“Can’t believe I’m back in Rwanda”. I say that every year and with the same surprise as if I should be. That phrase can have multiple meanings, depending on how you view it. I shouldn’t be because this is my second home and the children we impact require my time here. They are the sole reason and the fuel for my continued passion for the country and it’s development of youth.
This year will be different, it already was from the start. Mack, my 14 month old son, is traveling with Steph and I. Needless to say, what I thought was a brutally long enduring flight already, turned into an even longer test of physical and emotional endurance. Many lessons were learned over the last 2 days of travel, and most involved traveling with a baby boy that doesn’t want to sit still. I tell myself, it was a good bonding experience that only could be achieved since Mack only slept 3 hours of the 35 hour journey!
As I get adjusted and mentally prepare myself to lead on the ground, I am thankful to all the volunteers, donors, bag packers, my wife, pro-bono partnerships, contributing board of directors members, and our country staff for the preparations leading up to the trip. It takes a village, but honestly when you work as a two person staff in a small yet highly impactful organization, it takes a city!
I’m excited for a second year of camp for 36 children that desperately need us. They need us to bridge the gap between their lack of resources and a future of opportunity. The need us as much as we need them. In fact, the care givers of our children remind our staff here of that on a regular basis. To provide basic needs and a resource center alone gives so much more hope to children and the families. There are of course always challenges in this line of work, most frustrating, but all worth it when looking in the rear-view mirror from time to time. This time around I can say “I can’t believe I’m back in Rwanda” because of the potential to change lives in youth that require it. I’m ready to take on another challenge as well, and that is trying to hide my smile when 36 are running at me with screaming and excitement. It’s just another form of fuel in this, and my journey.
Dan Gladden Executive Director, Hope Shines