Five of us have taken time to write today. As you’ll see, Rwanda has made a big first impression! Here’s the first in a series of posts from travelers, written by Dorthe.
Rwanda – indeed Africa’s pearl. The land of 1,000 hills has captured my heart. We started our day in Opportunity’s Kigali headquarters with the staff gathered for their morning devotions. What a perfect way to start the day and this trip. I was truly moved by the spirit that filled the room. The lesson & reading was from Genesis 47, where Joseph teaches the people to save, as there will be seven years of feast followed by seven years of famine. Joseph established the law in Egypt of putting 1/5 of their produce or income aside. The lesson to the staff was poignant and, throughout the day, the importance of every farmer and market client doing the same was made clear to us.
(Germaine, Opportunity Rwanda COO, giving a devotional talk)
We met rice farmers in cooperatives on their first loan cycle and merchants in the market on their 24th loan cycle. All were appreciative of the difference their loans, however small, were making. A 30-year-old woman, whose name I didn’t understand, was introduced to us. She was selling coal behind the public latrines and next to the rubbish dump. She was a true success story. Her loan enabled her to buy wood to make and sell coal. Her profits enabled her to buy a cow ($1,400 Frisian import) which produces 10 liters of milk per day, versus the cheaper domestic cow that could only yield one liter per day. Then she invested in a motorbike that was used as a taxi. She had two kids. A true business lady, but that was not my first thought as we were led to her rather sorry, dirty spot behind the main market. The day was filled with women like her.
Inspirational and impressive, this was a day full of great impressions! The landscape is captivating. There’s an order and cleanness unlike anywhere I’ve been in Africa. The people are smiling yet slightly reserved. I feel completely safe and at ease. Can’t wait ‘til tomorrow for more impressions. Factoid of the day: as we are at the equator the earth is moving at 1,000 m.p.h. rather than 600 m.p.h. in London. Should we be dizzy? Either way it seems that things even out as not much gets done faster apart from the drinks at the pool bar this p.m. Very impressive. The rest of the day much of the time was spent just waiting. Getting our balance, perhaps?