“If you knew me, you would not have killed me.” -Rwandan modern saying Since the genocide in 1994, Rwandans and their government have worked hard to ensure that they learn from their past. You can see signs of this throughout the country. One such thing is called Umuganda. It’s the last Saturday of each month which is set aside for community to come together to discuss neighborhood issues and do community work. While it’s roots precede the genocide, the government now has pushed this concept not only to save the country money in upkeep costs, but also to bring communities together to know each other.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” -Maya Angelou We met so many hurricane-strength, rainbow color mommas during our interviews and time in Ethiopia.
Meet Aseged. When I asked him what he wanted the rest of the world to know about Ethiopia, he told me, I was in the government for 40 years. I'm going to speak to you honestly- we were on the wrong track. There was corruption. But now with our [new] government, we are on the right track. Now our government is caring about the people. I think it is now our turn in the world.⠀
In t-minus 2 days, I'll be on a plane headed out to meet more people and hear their stories. We will be doing everything from creating content for local organizations to interviewing a woman who has been an influential voice in Ethiopia bringing more women into leadership in their government to just enjoying the incredible culture. I'll be posting lots of instastories, but you can also follow the journey through the eyes of some of my other team members- @shaughncooper @kristopherslens @joey_wren or @brihallofficial
The beauty of getting to go back and work multiple times in the same place is that you make friends that become dear friends. My family already has messages for me to pass along and my daughter has made her cards for Uncle Zelalem and Aunt Nardi with strict instructions to make sure they receive them. It took me until adulthood to really appreciate the loveliness of friendships that can be held across long distances.⠀
Sweet little family on a snowy morning.⠀
Yesterday, a car crash took this beautiful soul from earth. ⠀ I met Nomonda, a 55 year old woman, in the township of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa. She said that after seeing one crisis after another her community she told herself nearly twenty years ago, Let's do something.⠀ She started by simply opening her home to children who needed a home or during the day to children whose parents were in desperate need of childcare. She became a sort of halfway house between children in neglectful situations and foster care as the authorities turned to frequently for urgent needs. All the while she continued her childcare/education center for neighborhood children. As if this were not enough, she then began an after-school program.⠀ One can only imagine the number of young lives she has touched. ⠀ She told me, I am a woman of dreams. ⠀ I believe her dreams will outlast her for years to come through the lives of those who had the privilege to be loved by her.
Meet Elise, the artist behind @wonderandpaper .⠀ Elise using water colors for a unique spin on hand lettering. Her customizable work is so lovely; but her kindness towards her fellow human is even more beautiful.⠀