Tom Allen, B2R Country Director, once said, "The village is as poor as it is beautiful." It's difficult to understand this statement without seeing the village with your own eyes. Until you have the chance to visit Rwanda, let me try to paint a mental picture for you:
To get to the village, you leave Musanze and drive about 20 minutes. You turn right onto a dirt road. You follow the dirt road for about 15 minutes as children run behind your car screaming, "Mzungu, mzungu!"
Our part of the village is at the very top of the road, near Mwiko Primary School. As soon as you reach a certain part of the road you don't hear "Mzungu, mzungu" anymore you hear, "Betsy! Betsy!" That's when you know you have reached the village. You are not some foreigner in this remote area in the middle of Africa. You are a friend, a loved one, a family member.
The view in the village is breathtaking. I can't put words to it and pictures really do not do it the justice it deserves. Imagine the most beautiful mountain top you have been on. Look down the mountain and you will see women in their brightly colored kangas working in their crops of beans, bananas, or potatoes. The land is blanketed with patches of various shades of green. During the rainy season, it is like a patchwork quilt God has placed to cover His land.
The next thing that catches your eye is Lake Burera. The lake is large and hosts three islands, one of which I have visited. The view is remarkable. You look straight ahead and see mountains continuing as far as you can see.
The houses are made of clay, wood and dirt. The water in the village is not clean. The village just got electricity about a year ago but that doesn't mean they all use it. Our friends who live in the village will eat meat maybe once a year. They will walk everywhere they need to go.
The beauty doesn't just lie in the landscape. The first smiling face you see catches your heart and doesn't let go. The child is most likely wearing his or her school uniform. It might be only one of two outfits they own. Their shoes will will be old and worn out from all the walking they do.
Everything about the kids might seem dirty on the outside, but on the inside these children are white as snow. Their hearts are kind and pure. They lead a simple life and dream of doing great things. Education is their top priority. They put their faith in God and read their Bible every day.
As word spreads that you are visiting, more familiar, smiling faces begin to arrive. The first face I look for is Didier. He is 7 years old and goes to Sonrise Primary School. He is sponsored by my family and was in my P1 class last year. When he sees me, his face lights up almost as much as mine does.
Two weeks ago was my last visit to Musanze and the village (for a while...I'll be back!!!) I pulled Didier to the side and told him how proud I am of him. He showed me his report card from school-he had great marks!
I explained that I am about to move back to America to go back to school. I gave him a small gold coin with an angel on it and told him that even though I won't be in Rwanda, I will be his angel and always pray for him.
I told him to continue to do very good in school and to pray every day. I gave him a big hug and I felt tear drops on my arm. Sweet Didier was crying. His older brother told me that "he has produced tears because you are leaving." My heart was hurting.
I gave one last hug to Didier and the rest of the kids before I had to leave. With a heavy heart, I drove down the mountain and away from beauty that is much more important on the inside than it is on the outside. I glanced back once more and I thought to myself, "This isn't goodbye. I'll be back."
"There are no goodbyes, wherever you'll be, you'll be in my heart." -Ghandi