As I was running with one of the Komera Scholars, my breath started getting faster and the orange dust was getting in my throat. All I wanted to do was relieve myself of the mile I was running and start to walk like some of the other girls. I thought about what Komera means, “be strong, be brave,” and I realized this run was not about my endurance. At the very least, I had to keep running for the girl next to me, behind me, and in front of me because their struggles are much more extensive than a run.
– Caroline Rintoul, ’17
I think I need to go back to the United States to really put this experience in perspective. I have never really thought twice about going to school, except to maybe complain about it. Here I saw children carrying jerry cans miles to get water and suddenly felt like I don’t do enough for my family… I saw a boy, Prince, who had a 2% average in his classes, but his teachers couldn’t help him because of the size of his class. I am so used to small classrooms that I didn’t know how hard it was for teaches to keep everyone under control. I never knew how lucky we are to be able to afford an education and as many water bottles as we want.”
– Daria Locher, ‘16
Seeing, meeting, waving, smiling at, and talking with the children of Rwanda will stick with me for the rest of my life. At first, I looked at them with pity and their eyes looked back at me with sorrow. But I have come to see not only the children of Rwanda, but Rwanda as a whole as not just another impoverished African country where Mzungus embark on journeys designed to change the world but everyone is still miserable. Rather, Rwanda is a country full of self-reliance, hope, happiness, and peace.
– Lydia Picoli, ‘16
The kids in Rwanda welcomed us with open arms and open hearts, which made the trip more meaningful to me. This trip gave me a better perspective of the daily life and culture of Rwanda, which I want to take with me to the United States and use to further my own life.
– Maddie Everett, ‘14
I learned that we don’t appreciate going to school in the same way that children appreciate school here. I was touched by the note that Bonheur, one of the students in Kigali City School, gave me. It said: “You are so great to us. I will miss you. Miss us as we will do so? Come back in Rwanda as a country that likes visitors. Anytime remember us. Anywhere you are.”
It was also great to see Olive, the girl that we sponsored through the Komera Project. She was so grateful for what we did for her.
I don’t know why I was so nervous before landing. I am so glad I did this. This trip was AMAZING. I am sad to leave.
– Elettra Baldi, ‘16
From the men and women who are paving the streets in front of our guesthouse to Cerafina, the tour guide at the Nyamata Memorial site, who is healing people’s hearts, Rwandans seem truly committed to their survival not just as individuals, but as a people. I walk away thoroughly impressed with how determined Rwandans are to achieve “agaciro” (self-reliance).
– Victor Llanque, US History and Global Studies
Meeting Olive, our Komera scholar, was one highlight of the trip because it represented so many of our goals in coming here – supporting girls and their academic dreams, forging lasting friendships, and experiencing Rwanda’s infectious hope for the future. A personal highlight for me was reconnecting with Emma and Betty from IEE and with the teachers from Remera school, where I volunteered the past two summers. Seeing their growth and joy in teaching gave me deep respect for the good work IEE is doing with the Rwandan schools. These five amazing GFA students and their leadership and passion made the past 11 days memorable and life changing.
– Robbi Hartt, MS English