When I got the placement for Rwanda, the first thing that I tried to find out was; just where exactly the country was on the map?
I looked, but to my amazement, couldn’t really find it.
However eventually I did find out, it was this tiny little speck on the map, a speck so small that one literally needed to strain their eyes to track it!
On the face of it Rwanda looks like a miniscule country on any given map , but it’s a country with a cherished history of resilience , a country that has shown the world what it takes to bounce back from the brink of ignonimity after a whole generation had been wiped out through the genocide of 1994.
My decision to take up the placement therefore was spontaneous, it was spontaneous because I knew what a great opportunity this was, an opportunity to be part of rebuilding efforts for a newly resurgent country
I could never have imagined that starting with hardly being able to see where Rwanda was on Africa’s map I would go through one of the most wonderful journeys of my life, a journey that would enrich me as a person and would enable me to touch so many lives.
A VSO experience has got the capacity to do precisely that for you, it can help you connect with people at many levels and in so many different ways.
I joined my placement as a District Disability Advisor and my job was to advise the Ministry of Local Government on mainstreaming disability issues in Nyanza District
The effects of genocide, poverty and negatively engrained belief systems had left Rwanda faced with enormous challenges
The country had long been toying with ideas therefore to come out with an effective strategy for bettering lives of people with disabilities.
I went to Rwanda as part of this wider initiative of the government which in collaboration with VSO aspired to strengthen local government capacity on disability issues by creating structures at a local level to work on disability.
Working as a Disability Advisor for Nyanza District was one of my greatest successes,
As part of my job-role I was able to get diverse stakeholders, prominent among them being NGO’s, civil society, donor organizations and government departments on board for implementing the District’s action plan on Disability. I was also able to do a range of capacity building trainings for helping government functionaries at all levels understands their roles.
Rwanda is a beautiful country, very scenic and it is famously referred to as the land of a thousand hills as most of the country is made up of hills.
Night skies in Rwanda are a treat to watch, crystal clear and without a hint of pollution.
Bus journeys up and down the hills in Rwanda can be really fascinating, with breathtaking scenery to look forward to for miles together and a chance to mix with locals while travelling!
One thing I can never forget is the grand farewell that I recieved from the District just before leaving. the District had invited kep people from the Disability movement in Rwanda for the farewell.
It was a special feeling to be in the midst of so many important people and to be applauded by all.
A memento, a Rwandan basket specially crafted for me was presented to me as a token of appreciation for the work I had done in the district,
The basket had this inscribed on it-
” When we said hello to you, we never thought we would end up having to say goodbye so soon, times may take away our moments with you but our memories can always bring them back”
With tears in the eyes of Emmanuel my district counterpart I felt a lump somewhere deep inside of me as well which was telling me, wish I could stay just a little bit longer, wish I could maybe enjoy this beautiful country just a little bit more?
I couldn’t believe that this was going to be it and my wonderful journey in Rwanda was about to get over.
I’m so glad I made this journey, Rwanda a land of a thousand hills you are special to me and always will be,maybe some day I’ll see you again!
Thank you I Volunteer Overseas and thank you VSO for making this trip possible, I owe it to you guys