Last summer on a partnership trip to Rwanda with IF Gathering and Africa New Life, I found myself standing in front of a room full of brilliant, teenage young women who were attending one of Africa New Life’s boarding schools.
I shared poetry with them and told them stories about my mom and sister. One of the students asked me which country in Africa I was from. I explained to her that I, like many black people in America, didn’t know my ancestral African country of origin; that during the Atlantic slave trade no records were kept about the countries, tribes or villages from which slaves were taken. She nodded and said, “You are Rwandan.”
I smiled and felt healing in my soul at the way she welcomed me home to a continent I wanted to know so badly, for myself and for my ancestors.
They asked questions about history, self-esteem, dating, entrepreneurship and womanhood. We talked about hair, body shaming, and loving ourselves. We hugged each other and chatted until the sun went down. There wasn’t enough time for the conversations we needed to have, for sharing the commonality in our curves, curls and skin and the differences in our journeys in Rwanda and in America.
As I spent time with these young women and the women in Africa New Life’s vocational programs for sewing and cosmetology, as I met the many Rwandan women who are on staff with Africa New Life, I knew I had so much to learn from them and so much I hoped we could share. I wanted to come back to Rwanda and bring more black women from America with me.
This summer, I am returning to Rwanda with a team of brilliant black women leaders who are poets, preachers, writers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and engineers. We are calling our trip Woman to Woman Rwanda and we will return to the boarding school to connect and share with the young women there. We will facilitate workshops on entrepreneurship, experience the Kigali Genocide memorial, and participate in a reconciliation learning exchange with women and leaders there.
Ours is the first trip of its kind with Africa New Life and we hope it is the first of many trips with Africa New Life where black women from America can connect and serve with Rwandan women.
Here's How You Can Help
1. Give to our trip! When women are educated, empowered, and encouraged our communities grow and change for the better. Each dollar you give is supporting the betterment of communities in Rwanda and the betterment of communities right here at home.
2. Pray for our trip! Pray for safe travels, communal connections and an impactful learning exchange. Pray for our team as well as the Africa New Life program participants and staff.
3. Share about our trip! Share this blog post with your community and network for other people who may want to give or support.
More updates to come as we embark on our road to Rwanda!