Reflections on Rwanda from a Muzungu

Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills

Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills

Today’s blog is written by PeacePlayers-International Development and Communications Intern Ruth Logan.  She recently spent a month in Rwanda as a delegate of the Global Youth Connect:  Rwanda Human Rights Delegation. 

This summer I spent four weeks in Rwanda as a delegate of the Global Youth Connect:  Rwanda Human Rights Delegation to better understand international human rights on a local and global scale.

The GYC group went on an island tour in Lake Kivu

The GYC group went on an island tour in Lake Kivu

In the Gihembe Refugee Camp in northwestern Rwanda I learned from the youth what life as a refugee was like.  I spoke with local teachers and health providers as well as with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representatives about the main issues Gihembe (and most other Rwandan camps) deal with such as healthcare, education, food, and resettlement.  I learned that in the camp one doctor serves 15,000 refugees and for most refugees schooling ends at ninth grade.  This means that with limited resources and experience the Congolese refugees are forced to provide for themselves.  Their life is painfully more difficult because they are refugees and cannot return home.

One morning our program visited MindLeaps, an organization that teaches dance and information technology skills to Kigali street kids in order to help them rejoin society.  Eugene Dushime, the country director, explained the concept of MindLeaps.  We spoke with the young dancers and then they showed us their favorite dance steps/moves.  Finally, we all danced together to fun, exciting music.GYC Rwanda & Paris 106

This incredible experience reaffirmed my connection to the field of sports (in this case dance) as a tool for peacebuilding and youth development.  It is for this reason that I sought out PeacePlayers International, which promotes youth basketball and leadership in regions affected by conflict.  It is amazing to see positive effects sports has on both a child’s development as well as a community’s development.  If children can play together and overcome differences, then their parents and neighbors can eventually also.

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