Greetings and Updates from Rwanda – Board Member Michael Stromme

[panelHeader icon=”icon-plane”]Board Member Michael Stromme Travels to Rwanda[/panelHeader]

The end of my time this trip is nigh, although it’s been very well-spent and productive, as well as immensely enjoyable. This past week a lot of time was spent with Phillip, Hope Shines’ local contact and one of our translators and friends. More details later, but we were driving around researching as much information as we could find with the time we both had here together. Hope Shines is looking towards the future and how certain projects and programs can be im-plemented and sustainable within Rwanda, as well as how the orphans can be better served and supported in the nearer future. This “quest” has been a very interesting experience, and a lot was learned and gained about how healthcare and governmental systems work here.

The vitamin and hygiene supply donations were successfully delivered, and thanks once again to everyone who helped contribute them. Many thanks again, also, to those who’ve helped support the funding for this trip… I honestly couldn’t have done it without you.

The first day after I arrived, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the Hope Shines tutoring ses-sions called LEAD (Life Enhancement and Academic Development). Most of the kids weren’t expecting to see me, so it was a real surprise! It was also great being there and seeing what we worked so hard to raise the money for at last September’s fundraisers. Seeing how involved and enthusiastic the kids were (not to mention the improvement in their grades!) makes it all worth it.

In thinking about these kids we’ve come to know, and for myself that’s really only a couple of years now, I realize how similar we all are. I’ve lived in foreign countries, and known people from all over the world, so for me it’s something I maybe take for granted. But for others, and especially American kids their own age, the similarities would actually be quite surprising and unexpected. These kids do have a promising future, and one where there will exist more oppor-tunities than they have now. I think about that. I think about what’s possible and feasible in the near and more distant future, and what we as a small organization can achieve. Every genera-tion hopes the succeeding one will be better than their own, despite “the good ol’ days.” As a song says, these are the good ol’ days. It’s up to us all working together to ensure as best we can that hope and promise lie around the bend, so they can thrive and sustain their physical, educational, and financial well-being.

It’s the rainy season here, so on most days there have been heavy downpours. But when it’s not raining, Kigali is truly a beautiful and magical city. I get a kick out of walking around town and bumping into sometimes several people I know in one day! It can be a small town like that, and in a very good way. It’s also very easy to meet people and make friends, and people have been so open, helpful and supportive to me, as well as to our organization. It’s been priceless seeing and spending a little time with the friends I already have here, too, sharing a meal, drink or coffee, and catching up and laughing together. I’m picking up a few more words and expres-sions in Kinyarwanda… A little goes a long way, and I’ve discovered an expression that’s a fail-safe way to make someone smile or laugh. To make someone laugh in their own language is the best! 😉 Kigali really has become another home for me… I’ve found such a comfort level in being here, so it always makes it hard to leave, and my friends aren’t thrilled about it, either… But the consolation is that I’ll be back soon for the kids’ summer camp, and for that I can’t wait!

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