Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Farewell, dear boy

Farewell, dear boy. You came to my house so very often, just wanting to write and draw and be. Since you were three you could not hear because of meningitis. You lived in a world of silence, yet you spoke so deeply to me and all those around you. With a wave and a smile, you would usher my car by each day. You taught my children compassion. You taught my children love. You couldn’t tell Lian how much you were grateful for her friendship, but you made her bows and arrows that took hours to make. You showed her how to shoot from them. You made her smile. You rode bikes around my yard and laughed. You connected with my Aunt’s fifth grade class and without words explained how you really just wanted to play basketball. You loved doing math sums and were so proud when your grades at the school of the deaf placed you second in your class.

In your silence, you fought an unseen battle. The HIV/AIDS that inflicted your family was taking its toll. Your body just couldn’t fight the battle any longer. Your heart was stopping. Your kidneys were failing. And money or access couldn’t take the pain away. You fought harder than anyone imagined or asked. And you knew,  last night, that it was time to go as you said goodbye to your father when he left the room. He left still wanting to fight, but you knew. Somehow, across the oceans, my aunt was awoken in the middle of the night and prompted to pray for you. Without her knowing, they were prayers for the angels to take you and escort you into the highest place where you could truly live and be free.

I had the privilege today of picking up your father and taking him to you. There were no words spoken in the car. Only tears. And the only words I felt prompted to say were, “You are a good father. God is pleased with you.” And yet my Kinyarwandan couldn’t do justice to what I really wanted to say. I could only cry. As I lifted the shroud and placed my hand on your cold head, I could only say you were a blessed son.

And what can I say to them. My heart breaks for them. You are their third child to be taken away. One to malaria. One to doctor error. You to HIV/AIDS. Another miscarried and lost just two weeks ago. Your sister is left. Her name carries so much weight. Precious. She is precious. And we will care for her. She will start school this week. She will be loved. So many people love your family.
I loved your family and I know you needed to rest. Sleep in peace, dear boy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Join Us in Launching IMPACT Rwanda

Please help support New Horizons Foundation and the local church in Rwanda to IMPACT the lives of neighborhood children across the country…with the pilot program launch in our neighborhood and surrounding community in Kigali, Rwanda.  We are seeking to raise $45,000 in order to launch this program in March.  Donations can be made online - just indicate it is for Rwanda (and not their Romania program). Many blessings, Jennifer

IMPACT (Involvement, Motivation, Participation, Action, Community, Teens) Program:

“To develop responsibility, young people need to have responsibility. To learn to care, they need to perform caring acts.”
Thomas Lickona, Developmental Psychologist and
Professor of Education at SUNY

Imagine a country devastated by the loss of one million people in 1994. Imagine being a youth growing up in post-genocide Rwanda. Imagine trying to rebuild a country from scratch. Imagine 67% of the population being under the age of 25, but the majority being unemployed. Imagine the trust issues and suspicion involved in working with people who still hold bitterness over the deaths of their families. Now imagine…
A youth movement that truly involves young people in real social change.  Imagine youth lobbying their city government to successfully shut down drug laundering businesses in their city. Imagine youth petitioning their mayor and gaining 1,500 signatures to get speed bumps installed on a busy city thoroughfare to protect innocent lives.  Imagine youth getting the first ecological outhouse installed in a key area of a National Park. Imagine youth raising money to buy a milk cow for an orphanage so it can be more self-sustaining. Now consider that through these projects youth learn important life skills like project management, problem solving, teamwork and computer skills.  Can you imagine this next generation of youth becoming change agents, problem solvers, expressing compassionate competence and entrepreneurial energies for the public good?  If you can imagine this, then you have just imagined the tangible achievements of IMPACT Clubs, but we need your help to launch this in Rwanda.

We began this conversation because we know so many youth in our neighborhood who are without hope and without the practical skills needed to further their education and earn a decent living. Seeking a funding partner, Jennifer brought this idea to a very large-NGO. They are so excited that they are seeking funding to launch it in 30 of their areas of development, impacting close to 1000 youth. Unfortunately, the two larger communities in which we know youth are not in those areas of development. We hope to see both happen. We are in conversation with the Pentecostal church in these two communities to partner with them so that this program can take root among youth we know personally. A Rwandan pastor and friend of ours has been spearheading this partnership. The trainers are ready to come. Yet in order to launch this program and impact 275 youth in our local community, we are seeking to raise an initial $43,500 to launch this program in 11 neighborhoods and impact 275 youth.  That is $13/month or $160/year per young person and the tangible projects they create will impact their entire community.

We don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. If something is proven and tested, then let’s see it work in areas where the need is greatest. This is our fourth year in Rwanda. We have built many friendships with the youth in our village, but we have to ask what will be sustaining when we are not here? Many of these young men and women are the “sandwich generation.” They have been lost under the educational transition from French to English and by rapid rebuilding of the educational system that will greatly benefit today’s 3-5 year olds, but not the 12-18 year olds. Over 40% of those under 25 are unemployed and less than 20% are finishing secondary school. We see a huge desire in them to improve their lot in life and yet the opportunities just aren’t there. We desire to see these innovative and impactful clubs started throughout Rwanda, in partnership with the local church. IMPACT, a model developed on the ground in Romania by my friends, Dana and Brandi Bates, is now not only the largest youth community service movement in Romania, but is recognized globally as a best practice by international youth experts

The IMPACT Program is a powerful vehicle of holistic social change; it is based on a field-tested curriculum and has four broad learning pillars.  The pillars come with a corresponding set of curricula: active citizenship, employability, social entrepreneurship and leadership.  Youth come to know firsthand that they can make a difference and be part of positive change.  The IMPACT model empowers youth to learn how to envision social change, brainstorm together and then write and implement strategic community service projects.  Projects that not only transform youth and their communities, but give them concrete employable skills. The development of moral capacity in the youth served by IMPACT is singularly preeminent, interwoven through the 4 pillars above.  Behind all of this are over 100 field-tested education modules, curricula developed and fine-tuned both on the ground and in consultation with global experts since 2002.  

We already have the trainers, the facilitators and the youth eager to participate. What we need is the funding. World Vision has expressed significant interest in taking this country-wide and has requested three years of funding from its headquarters, but this initial launch will need to be self-funded.
We look forward to partnering with you to impact the youth in our neighborhood and throughout Rwanda.

Please consider investing in a portion of the following:

Training Costs       $15,000 (covers translation/airfare/honorarium/meals and lodging for ten days for trainers)
Administrative/Salaries $23,000 (provides jobs for 12 people – 11 local facilitators and 1 regional coordinator)
Grants for Community Project Grants $5,500 (students can apply for a grant to accomplish their community project)
An online donation can be made at New Horizons Foundation. Just indicate that it is for Rwanda.

The New Horizons Foundation was founded by Dana and Brandi Bates in 2000, to promote top quality experiential education models that advance life skills among youth as a means for sustainable development.  Experiential education is about learning by doing, learning through a problem solving approach to education.  In addition to the IMPACT program, since 2000 NHF has operated the first and only adventure camp in Romania, VIATAVIATA utilizes the non-formal educational methodology of adventure education and service learning to develop youth.  VIATA has served over 5000 youth in the 10 years it has operated.  NHF recently celebrated 10 years of sustainable development work in Romania; there currently are over 20 fulltime Romanian staff and 3 American volunteers working with the Foundation in various capacities, as well as one staff member stateside.  There is much more information on the programs, awards and focus of New Horizons on the website:  www.new-horizons.ro.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Update on the Sewing Coop

The poor are always prophetic. As true prophets always point out, they reveal God's design. That is why we should take time to listen to them. And that means staying near them, because they speak quietly and infrequently; they are afraid to speak out, they lack confidence in themselves because they have been broken and oppressed. But if we listen to them, they will bring us back to the essential.”

Jean Varnier

My neighbors are poor. Very poor. The homes that buttress mine are built of mud and tin. There is usually one outhouse with three holes in the ground for 10-12 homes. The paths in between the homes are strewn with litter and washed out maize bags full of mud and trash that are used for stairs. Children play with whatever they find on the street. Their diet consists primarily of potatoes, beans and a green leafy vegetable that grows everywhere. I employee two of the women from this neighborhood. They now earn double the average wage and have the chance to learn English. Their children are now in school. Every week I have someone knocking on my door asking for a job. I so wish I had a multitude of jobs to offer. There are no unemployment benefits here. You don't work; you don't eat. But I can't, which was one of the impetuses behind enrolling 11 of the moms in sewing school for six weeks and partnering with Noonday Collection to purchase products they make. We are now less than three months away from graduation and I am in awe of what these women have accomplished and humbled by what they are teaching me.

We started the process of becoming a cooperative, but the way it works here is that you actually have to have be in operation before you are approved as a cooperative. One of the steps in becoming official is to elect leaders - president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Since our first step in meeting with the local chief last month to tell him we wanted to become a cooperative, I have not done anything except facilitate the gathering of the women and the relationship between them and Noonday. They have ownership. Today I hosted them all in my home once again to discuss who should lead. This is what I heard from the women prior to a vote:

Alleluia! Amen! - This is their official opening.

A leader must know her workers.

A leader must start work early. If she says to her employees to be there by 8 am, then she must be there by 7:30 am.

A leader must be sharp and know her product well.

A leader must give of herself.

A leader must serve.

After this discussion of the traits of leadership, they selected from among themselves in an open, democratic way. Some of it was practical, as in, the president must have a Rwandan ID card and not a Congolese (several of our women are from the DRC).

They chose all of their officers. They made a to-do list for their next step in becoming an official cooperative. And then they ended.

A woman, who was so shy the first time I met her, asked to pray. They all stood up. She prayed. There were tears. There were amens. There were alleluias.

I know their stories. These women have become my friends, good friends. These are women who have been broken. Who have been oppressed. Who had to flee from enemies and live like refugees in a foreign country. Yet, they sing and they pray with a new confidence and new hope. I took a deep breath, praying all the details of our business partnership in the States would work out, but when I opened my eyes and saw their faces and saw how far we'd come in such a short time, I knew....I knew....that my and their lives were changing for the better.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Family Newsletter

Wishing you and your loved ones a year full of joy, love and inspiration.
There are more people than a heart could ever hold, More places than you could ever see
The scrolling list of needs just grows and goes, 24 hours, 7 days a week
‘Cause we think about so much, And do nothing at all, Afraid that what we have to give is so small

You don’t have to save the world, All that hero talk is only superficial stuff
If you want to change the world, What you’ve got to do is show up, show up, just show up

We’re so used to an immediate response, So used to giving up when things don’t work
We know the long obedience is hard, No shortcuts will make it easier
‘Cause the journey is so long, But the difference is made, By the million small steps along the way

You don’t have to save the world, All that hero talk is only superficial stuff
If you want to change the world, What you’ve got to do is show up, show up, just show up

No great things have I done, No great things have I done
Only small things with great love, And love makes a world of difference, You don’t have to save it

You don’t have to save the world, All that hero talk is only superficial stuff
If you want to change the world, What you’ve got to do is show up, show up, just show up

Jill Phillips, Show Up

Nathanael. Our 2 1/2 year old little boy is gentle, pure and strong. He loves life and has a smile and a hello for everyone. He spends most mornings with our house-helper, while Jennifer homeschools Lian, and as a result is our first bilingual child and understands everything in Kinyarwandan and English. He loves to talk, but we are still waiting for when we can understand him. He loves his Nanna and Poppa and is always asking to Skype with them. This boy can dance and loves to play the piano and drums. He is a wonderful brother and wakes up in the morning calling for Anna. As he is very social, we’ve decided to enroll him in Anna’s French preschool in January. He may understand three languages before he can speak one. He is a little fish in the water and loves the shores of Kivu as well as Shadow Lake in Vermont. He will truly melt your hearts when you meet him, as he has ours.

Anna. Our 5 year old is a creative spirit! It is so fun to see each of our children develop their own loves and talents this year. Anna’s highlight of the year was performing in Ballet Rwanda’s Nutcracker with her friends. She practiced every night and was poised and beautiful in the performance. We changed preschools on her again and she loves her new school, Le Petit Callines. In three months, she is already reciting poems in French. We also found a Chinese tutor, so the girls go twice a week to meet Lao Shi in this tiny apartment in a downtown alley where their teacher makes and sells tofu and soy milk. Jennifer has to speak in Kinyarwandan to the Chinese husband in order to communicate with his wife. Anna has also started playing soccer on a new international kids’ league. She was the only girl and the smallest player at first and we were so proud of how she overcame her fears. Her new best friend is Marcel Urquhart, who was adopted into our partners’ family this year. They are like two peas in a pod.

Lian. Lian has also really come into her own this year. A friend coaches the National Rwandan Tae Kwon Do team and offered to give Lian private lessons. Every morning she practices with her dad and in six months she has earned her yellow belt and blue stripe. She is now inspired to train for a competition next year. She attends 3rd grade homeschool with Mommy and has loved learning about Ancient History this year. Another new hobby this year is horseback riding. It has been another great joy to see her overcoming fears and learning to ride. As there is not much entertainment and we don’t own a TV, Lian is the queen of creativity and loves making up games, art projects and stories with her sister. Our house is usually a disaster as a result, but we love watching them bond.

Highlights for Dano and Jennifer.
Seeing Karisimbi Partners grow and highlighted by the Daedalus Experiment and New Times.

Taking the family on vacation in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Legoland this summer, before spending time with Jen’s family in Vermont.

Annual Gordon reunion with Jennifer’s friends and their families.

Leading an orphan care training together in Kaziba, Democratic Republic of Congo for 32 caregivers.

Jen learning a new job as Communications Specialist for a USAID agriculture project.

Hosting Easter camp for 45 kids and then Christmas camp for 130 kids in our house and watching them all respond to the good news of Jesus.

Starting a sewing school for 11 moms in the neighborhood and working with Noonday Collection to purchase their products upon completion of their training.

Welcoming friends Mary-Catherine Lader, Melanie and Marissa Usakokol, Santiago Sedaca, Steve Beck, Peb Jackson and housemates Celine and Dar to Rwanda.

Facilitating adoptions for two Rwandan children.

Weekly Sunday worship and fellowship times at our home.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Need for Vacation

We are now in our third year of life in Rwanda. After a wonderful time with family and friends on the East Coast, plus a week’s vacation in Amsterdam and Denmark, we were ready to reenter life here. I have never craved vacation as I have until I moved here. As a child, our family rarely took vacations. I’ve tried to place my finger on it and I think I need to face the reality that sometimes life in a cross-cultural situation is just challenging, thus draining and thus we crave some distance.

What are the challenges?

Constantly known as the Muzungu. Even if I’ve sought to learn some Kinyarwandan and have immersed myself in the neighborhood, I am still the muzungu the moment I walk out my gate. “Chocolate, amafaranga (money)” are the constant requests. Even if I have been to the market a thousand times in a year, I am still the outsider having to barter for what I believe should be the fair price and not the price due to the color of my skin. And even though I seek to understand the cultural nuances, I will most surely end up offending someone because I did something that is not acceptable here, but I just hadn't learned that nuance yet.

Constantly expecting something to not go as planned. As I’m currently reading Little House on the Prairie to my five year old, I am struck with the reality that my living situation here is quite comfortable in comparison to life on the American frontier in the late 1800s. Yet, compared to 21st century America, it is not. Water can turn off without any warning. My neighbors often come to share water when the village well is dry. A new road in our neighborhood is a God-send, yet, I am well aware that this will mean a power outage of at least an hour to four hours for every day during construction, which can last weeks. So I never stock the fridge to capacity, even though it is only a third of the size of a standard American fridge, because I don’t want to risk losing food. Even in work, I can plan for two weeks to get invitations out for an event, but when the printer actually runs out of ink and then asks the customer to purchase it for him, that was never in the plan.

Constantly reminded that a little can go a long way. Every time I open my gate and see my neighbor, I am faced with the reality that my Bourbon latte could pay for her son’s three months of education. Do I have a coffee that day or do I help my neighbor? I have to say that I have stopped buying as many coffees out and purchased coffee for my own home. It saves a lot and allows me to spend more on those in my neighborhood, but sometimes I just want to enjoy that iced late. My children have lots of art supplies – there is not much to do here, which is a positive. My children have become very creative at creating their own fun. Yet, there is always the tension of how much do I just keep the supplies and toys for my children and when do I use them to bless other kids in the neighborhood. These are daily decisions that weren’t always as apparent to me in the States even though we lived in an inner-city neighborhood.

These are all tensions for which I am actually grateful as they are forever changing how my family looks at the world. Yet, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes they just get tiring and the shores of Lake Kivu cry out for perspective, beauty and fun. Thankfully, I am married to a man who loves to both work hard and play hard and is committed to seeing as much of the beauty of this country and Continent as is possible.

After two or three days away, I do feel rejuvenated. When I look out into the beauty of Lake Kivu, I stand in awe that I am here in the heart of the continent for such a time as this. When I return home, I have the energy to have tea with the women in my neighborhood and to dream and plan with them regarding their future employment; I shed tears as the house staff for the Karisimbi team pray over us and thank us for treating them like family; and I celebrate with the 12 year old deaf boy, Imanishimwe, as he runs to my house to tell me he is first in his class! It is a good life here. Sometimes I just need perspective.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trip to Kaziba Orphanage, Congo

Our time in Kaziba was short and meaningful. All of my anxieties about being in Congo seemed to disappear as we drove up the beautiful escarpment leaving behind beautiful Lake Kivu and headed into mountains reminiscent of the Fjords in Norway. It didn’t seem that different from Rwanda, but it was. Somehow I felt safe and secure heading towards the orphanage, yet the reality is it is a lawless region. Vigilante justice is done towards those who commit crimes because the government cannot be trusted. Bribes are the currency of business and so there is no infrastructure, no industry sectors. Except for mining. And mining is lucrative for those at the top, as long as you close your eyes to what happens to those at the bottom. But this is what we heard, not what we saw….what we saw was… (For pictures of our trip please go to - http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150307917392926.413861.760487925&l=cd3eaef862)

A home…full of children…a home that a year ago housed children so malnourished that many of the newborns weren’t expected to live. The one year olds did not receive enough Vitamin D through milk and sunlight that their fontanel lobes were not closing. There were two caregivers for 32 children. That is when Holly Mulford met the children and adopted two twin baby girls. Through the generosity of friends and her own personal motivation, she did a formula drive that has ensured each child receives adequate formula every day. She got medical care for kids who needed it. She raised funds so they could hire more staff – they had 4 last year, now there are 17 women. She raised funds to build a wall around the property so that the home would be safe and therefore they built their own garden and are now supplying the orphanage with beans and maize from their own land. They just recently got chickens for eggs and will have a cow soon. Holly has helped facilitate several adoptions from this orphanage as well as she shares the news of these children who lost their mothers in childbirth. (If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please go to http://www.tumainidrc.org/.

We were there to do a training on building attachment between the caregivers and the children. I structured it around the parable of the Good Shepherd. I believe orphans will receive better care when their caregivers are honored and cared for themselves. So we spent a lot of time holding their hands, looking into their eyes, acknowledging their names, giving them gifts, showing them we see them – truly see them. Yet, there were times when I almost had to look away from their eyes because their eyes were crying out for love and it was almost too much for me to handle. I don’t know their stories. They wouldn’t share what they wrote or drew during our reflection time, but I know God spoke to them. When we talked about how the Good Shepherd walks his sheep through the dark and dangerous places they all began to sway and say, “Amen.” I cannot imagine their dark places. Yet, here they are caring for children and for many of them this is a lifelong commitment. They have been there 17 years, 25 years, 35 years. There are only three orphanages in the whole south Lake Kivu region. There are always new children being brought in. These caregivers are tired, but thanks to the work Holly has launched they said they now have confidence in the work they are doing.

We had them play…a lot…I think that is the best way to learn by experience. This was different for them, but they jumped right into it. Attachment games, sensory building games. Pure joy. We gave them blankets made by their “enemies” – the Rwandans. The irony of it is the manager of Amani in Rwanda lost her husband to Congolese soldiers when Rwanda invaded Congo in 1996. Here she was making 35 blankets for her enemy. But isn’t that how forgiveness happens? One heart decision at a time?

Yet, will what we did be implemented? To move from survival to development is the challenge of any work in a developing country. It is a complete mindset change. As I told the director, if they just spend 15 minutes a day in focused play it will actually save them time in behavior problems for the rest of the day, but he is so overwhelmed by what it takes to clothe, feed and bathe these children that he can’t see the forest through the trees. It is just hard to comprehend. But I believe Mama Lili got it. I believe she will use the toys and methods for discipline we discussed because I sense in her heart that she wants the best for these children.

I could have used a week there I think to really help with the implementation, but that is my struggle here. I have my own children to attend to. Three days was enough. They need their momma. They need their daddy. And when we returned, I held them close.

On a personal note, I struggle. The needs in Congo were overwhelming. The lawlessness prevents any good from surviving here. That is the difference between Congo and Rwanda. For all the critiques of Rwanda’s police state, there is law and order and so civil society can flourish. That does not exist in Congo. Just last week there was a change in regiments in the local Bukavu military base. The new regiment came and robbed the local bank. They shot a local man. Tons of eye witnesses, yet no one comes forward because there is no one to listen. And so my heart feels heavy for this country. My heart feels heavy for the children we saw this weekend. What is their future? I am not sure, but I pray that the caregivers felt cared for and will in turn love on these children.

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
(what I am made of)
and what I know of love

we've done what we've done and we can't erase it
we are what we are and it's more than enough
we have what we have but it's no substitution

Something on the road, touched my very soul

I say what I say with no hesitation
I have what I have and I'm giving it up
I do what I do with deep conviction

Something on the road, changed my world

Sara Groves

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reflections on April 7

We have now lived in Rwanda for one and a half years. Last April, I could feel something change in the air as April 7, the anniversary of the genocide, approached. I wasn't sure what to expect. In some ways, life went on....for me....I was fearful of large crowds (and the US Embassy Warden definitely advises staying away from them at this time of the year), so I did not attend the memorial gathering at the national stadium. The streets were quiet. We do not have a television, so we were spared the telecasts reminding people of the atrocities that occurred during those 100 days. I tried to talk with our staff, but I could see they were struggling. So it was quiet. And we prayed. And life went on...for me...

Now I have more Rwandan friends. And I've realized that it is not a question of "Did you lose someone?", but rather "Who did you lose?"

I asked our househelper how she was doing yesterday. She doesn't like to talk about it. She simply said that in the month of April everyone becomes 1994 again. Now she can forgive, but it is still hard.

Just today, as part of my work in doing communications for a USAID project, I was interviewing four farmers up in the northwestern region of Musanze. This region borders both Congo and Uganda. It was encouraging to hear them share how their life has improved since joining a cooperative that is progressing. I asked them what their hopes were for their children now that they are seeing progress in their economic life. I expected to hear the usual hopes of education, success. Instead, what all four said to me in different ways was, "When you have seen and experienced what we went through 17 years ago, all you want for your children is for that to never happen again. You want peace and stability."

I returned home to an email from a friend. We had invited him and his wife to dinner this Saturday. We knew it was the memorial week and said if they'd prefer to postpone until next month, we would completely understand. I have known him for a year. He was actually our attorney for Nathanael's adoption and I have continued to work with him. He shared how he and his wife both lost their parents in the genocide and he lost four of his sisters and brothers as well. Prior to this, what I knew of this man was his incredible heart. He facilitates adoptions because he loves to bring families together. He does free legal aid for orphans on the weekends. Now I know why and my heart broke.

Another friend and colleague shared his story with us. It is one of incredible tragedy. They all are. He is the only survivor. We asked him if he would rather be alone this weekend or would he like to join us for dinner. He said he is usually alone during this memorial, so he would love to be with our family for dinner. How do we honor the family he lost and let him enter into our family at the same time? Lian's response was simple, "I'll teach him how to play Uno! That would be something fun for him."

I met a woman from our church this past weekend. She has written a book called Frida: Chosen to Die, Destined to Live. I read it in a day. I have read so many of these stories. Sometimes I ask myself why I subject myself to them. But in reading them, I find incredible stories of forgiveness and grace amidst incredible evil. I see the hand of God in the midst of a world that denies his existance. I find strength. And in reading their stories, I somehow feel I am honoring the lives of those who were tragically killed in this place I now call home.

Rwanda may feel very far away. But today, I would ask you to just offer a moment of silence for the almost one million people whose beauty and talents this world has lost. May we never, ever see such tragedy again.