Well, I keep referencing Rwanda, so I better give you a taste of what I experienced and learned. In the fall of 2007, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Rwanda on a mission trip for about 3 weeks. Now, you wouldn’t ordinarily expect a 3 week period to be completely life-changing, but it was!
For the first time in my life, I saw with my own eyes the living conditions of the majority of our world, and the joy that overflowed from the poorest people that I met. The simplicity of their happiness in a country wracked with grief following the genocide of 1994, a country that had to piece itself back together and somehow have two acrimonious people groups blend to become a Rwandese nation was astounding.
A few genocide victims we were privileged to see at memorials.
I toured the genocide memorials with the rest of my group, and the graphic presentation of the reality that existed in 1994 was shocking. My family is of German heritage, so as a young teen, I read a lot on the world wars and when we visited family, toured some holocaust memorials – but in Germany these experiences are sanitized – pictures of dying/dead people, bare quarters, and many religious memorials.
In Rwanda, there is a genocide museum with exhibits showing all the historical genocides, clothing and machetes and guns, and mass graves that visitors walk through. The reality of the genocide is hammered home as you walk between twelve-foot shelving units that are piled full of bones. Rwandans are determined to never forget that the genocide occurred, and beyond that, want to work to prevent any future genocides by teaching others about their experiences. Another memorial we visited was a church in which villagers had taken refuge. It was attacked and all the people who died inside remained as they died – fallen over benches, by their children and cooking pots. This was changed a few short months before we visited, and the bones were moved to shelves – but for more than a decade, visitors walked the aisles of the church surrounded by the reality of those deaths.
And yet, the gacaca tribal court system has the perpetrators of the genocide returning to their homes and working for the living families of their victims. As strange and difficult as it may seem to have the killer of your family working your garden and living as your neighbour, this reparative justice system is working.
As I have continued to learn and grow from that experience and the past few years of university, I have learned that while that may be a good aim, to often we resort to feeling sorry for these poor, poor people, or feeling guilty because we have so much and they have so little. The people I met do not consider themselves to be weak, lost causes, etc., but rather, are ingenious, entrepreneurial, and able to make do on very little. They are grateful for what they have, and thankful if they receive some help, but are more concerned with building relationships that last. I have learned to take action by choosing deliberately to budget and spend money wisely, to live joyously with less and remember their simple lives and the joy that they shared, and to contribute to causes that help to equip and build communities.
Third year INDEV cohort picture, compliments of the cohort facebook page.
Let me introduce you to the rest of my cohort - a year's worth of change agents being moulded by the teaching and life experiences we are sharing at the University of Waterloo.
We are all writing blogs to give friends, family, and supporters a peek inside the life of an INDEVour. Check out our blogs and follow along!
I will also be adding these links to the sidebar of my blog (by title) so it will be easy to find the link in the future!
Danielle L: http://naivepoliticalramblings.weebly.com
Danielle R: http://theindevidual.wordpress.com/
Rasha A: http://thecornersoftheworld.wordpress.com
Sung (Jason): http://jasonsunghyuncho.blogspot.ca
Something that has become a rather significant thing to me over the years is becoming more environmentally friendly in the way that I live. I also have quite a few allergies, most of which are triggered by man-made chemicals, so finding alternatives to those chemicals and solutions to my reactions has also been important.
I have begun looking at ways to make my food healthier, my toiletries more natural, and my purchases fair to both the producers and the environment.
There are a lot of bloggers who deal with these issues and I am learning from them as I go. Here are some of my favourites, from various schools of thought:
Mother Baby Earth
The Nourishing Home
The Spunky Coconut
This video (which is not mine) succinctly shows a very cool solution to a problem that often occurs in developing countries. A friend shared this with me a few years ago, and when I looked it up for this post, I found that the 'technology' has since spread around the world and is being used in many countries. Recycling, renewable, and solving a problem? Wonderful!
One of the Sevenly designs for Reece's Rainbow.
This business is a really neat for-profit that is helping not-for-profits. Their name is Sevenly because every 7 days they publish new limited-edition shirts and other items with unique designs. Each sale of one of these items contributes $7 to that week’s featured not-for-profit.
Sevenly sets goals for the amount they want to raise each week, with a tangible result – i.e. a goal will sponsor a certain number of items specific to that organization. They also set goals for the number of shares on social media during that week.
They have three points to their model – first, to raise money for the featured organization, second, to raise awareness for the featured organization online, and third, to spur conversations about the organization through their customers when they wear their purchases.
I love a lot of the causes and organizations that they feature, never mind the beautiful designs, and am rather quickly building a Sevenly wardrobe, and emptying my bank account! Quite recently, the featured organization was Reece's Rainbow, a special needs adoption ministry that I support, and the designs were fantastic!
Go check out what the featured organization and designs are this week at www.sevenly.org.
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.