Thursday, December 31, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
This is a posting I just wrote for our Karisimbi Partners blog. You can read more about our work with Karisimbi Business Partners.
We were only there to deliver a gift. What we received in return was nothing like I expected.
All three Karisimbi Partner families have always believed in committing the ‘first fruits’ of our labor, which is why it did not seem strange to want to donate a portion of the first company paycheck. It was not a huge amount, but somehow it just felt right to give a tenth of our earnings to an organization that honors those trying to rebuild after the genocide. In particular, we wanted to support an organization that encourages entrepreneurship. We decided on Amani Ava Hejuru, an organization committed to helping marginalized women in Africa find peace with God and one another. They focus on relationship-building while giving the women sewing and marketing skills. Their products represent excellence.
We wanted to buy three beautiful baskets made from fabric scraps. It seemed symbolic –first fruits are gathered in a basket, and our first fruits would support the business of women making baskets. Our donation could buy three baskets with surplus funds for purchasing a quilting machine that would allow them to produce more products. I communicated with Grace, the Managing Director, and was invited to their workplace. Upon arrival, their workshop appeared to be a small garage converted into a space for eleven sewing machines. Greg and Kristen Urquhart came as well (we have all since decided that the next time we present such a gift, we must all be present). We said some brief remarks and went to leave. Beata, who manages the store, asked if she could sing us a song. The drumbeats started. Her beautiful voice rang out. The others joined in. Hands began to raise and bodies began to sway. Three of the women began to dance the traditional Ingonza dance. Translated from Kinyarwanda, the following words filled that small space with such joy it moved me to tears. “Your husband cannot give you peace, your neighbor cannot give you peace, your friends cannot give you peace, your job cannot give you peace....only Jesus can give you peace.” In a way, this is a Christmas message… one that they sing and feel all year long.
These are words sung by women who lost their husbands during the genocide in horrific ways – often at the hands of their neighbors. They know what can and cannot give you peace. Where we thought our gift was small, to them it was another way Jesus was showing his love to them. And they celebrated that recognition through song and dance, completely uninhibited. I felt I was standing on holy ground. My three-year-old daughter, Anna, was hugging my leg as she listened. I said a silent prayer that she would remember this and someday be able to receive the gifts in her life with the joy and peace these women embodied.
We have the privilege of access – access to education, resources, networks. With this privilege comes responsibility. These women have received the gift of life – a second chance. Rwanda has received the gift of a second chance. We have the privilege to serve with what we hold in our hands. We also have the privilege to receive what this country extends to us.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
So today, after spending a few minutes playing on the see-saws with a dozen or so little ones, I asked the helper if she knew Isaiah (just learned I am not allowed to post his Rwandan name). As soon as she pointed to him, I recognized him from the pictures. What a child of strength. It was such a joy for me to tell him in Kinyarwandan that I am friends with his forever mom and dad and that they are coming soon to get him. I was able to play with him, help feed him, and just watch and observe this precious boy.
He ate in a room I hadn't been in before. In the room were five handicapped little boys all in one crib. Their legs are crippled and for some they cannot even sit up. My heart broke for these little ones. There was a woman there from Burundi who was volunteering and so I joined her in feeding and holding these precious little ones. Angelo was the one with whom I spent the most time. Judging by his facial features and size, I would guess he may be as old as four years old, but he is still eating out of a bottle and cannot stand, nor can he speak. I asked if I could hold him and the helpers were so sweet to change him, put on nice clothes and then let me hold him. At first he was so animated and I tried to hold him up so he could at least move his legs. Then they gave me a bottle with which to feed him. I rocked him like a baby and just sang these words, "You are loved. You are loved. You are loved." to the tune of an old worship song called "You are Lord." I could feel his body relaxing in my arms. I kept looking into his eyes and telling him, "You are not forgotten. You are loved." I felt like I could stay there forever.
And then my friends were leaving, so I tried to put him back in the crib. He just screamed and cried. I told him I would be back. And I will.
Monday, December 14, 2009
http://carolinejoan.blogspot.com/ - Caroline lives with us here in Kigali. I've known her since she was a baby and am super proud of the dance school she's launched called Ballet Rwanda.
http://www.urquharts.wordpress.com/ - Greg and Kristen are one third of our partnership with Karisimbi Business Partners.
http://www.karisimbipartners.blogspot.com/ - Our company's weekly blog.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
While I love Christmas more than any other time of year, I’m already thinking about 2010 and I want to share that vision with you. And, I want you to share it with everyone you know.
Our team set the goal of raising $500,000 to reach another 5,000 orphaned children in 2010. We’re raising these funds so that…
> Fewer young girls are forced to trade sex for food
> More orphans will have food to eat, and the protection and love of Christian mentors
> No girl will end up in the commercial sex trade
The enemy preys upon orphans like this day after day after day. I’ve seen our enemy; he goes by names like AIDS, extreme poverty, and sexual trafficking. He robs children of their parents, their dreams, and their dignity. Who will stop this? It must be us!
Today I am on a mission to raise $500,000 and I can’t do it without you. Will you help by visiting http://www.HopeChestPartners.org and sign up as a $25/month partner today?
Your donation will feed orphans in Africa and rescue them from extreme poverty. Your gifts will support lifechanging programs for girls in Russia that help prevent sex trafficking and forced prostitution.
These are CRITICAL gifts that form the foundation of our programs. Without that foundation, we could never have grown to reach 10,000, and sit poised to reach another 5,000 next year. It is those gifts, your gifts, that make the difference.
For the Fatherless,
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."
For the full essay: http://www.washingtoninst.org/resources/articles/guest/motherhood-vocation.htm
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
On Sunday, Kristin and I went to the Home of Hope orphanage, run by the Sisters of Charity in Kigali. We were not allowed to take pictures and I don't think I would anyway. Almost seems to trivialize the reality these children live in. So we went with some teachers from my daughter's school who volunteer there every Sunday. I have been to many orphanages before as a result of our adoptions and my work with Children's Hope Chest, but this was harder than what I've experienced before.
I need to preface my comments by saying that I know the Sisters there are prayerful, dedicated, hard-working and compassionate people. Yet, there are too few of them and too many children. One hundred and twenty children, ages 0-8 live in this home. Volunteers are not allowed in the baby room, unless you are a doctor, so as to keep the babies healthy. However, I could see them through the windows. Crib after crib lined the room - it was overwhelming to me. There had to be sixty cribs, at least. Outside the baby room were the 1-2 year olds, some of whom slept two to a crib in a very small crib. No furniture except the tables at which they all eat their meals. Outside in the courtyard, about forty 3-6 year olds, along with several special needs older children, were playing and getting ready to eat their dinner (a roll and some milk) and take a bath.
I thought I was prepared. I brought a Rwandan soccer ball as I thought that would be fun to play. Lesson learned, unless I had 40 soccer balls, I should not have brought it. The children stormed at us, wanting to be held, wanting to touch our hair and wanting to see what I had in my bag. They tried to grab it off of my arm. I finally got control and tried to play a game, but it was chaotic. They all began climbing on me and not in a fun way. I literally had to cry for help because the smaller children were getting trampled by the older. I just wanted to cry. This was not what I had imagined. And the caregivers (not the nuns) did not seem to know what to do. Finally, I put my bag in hiding, toys away, and just held a few small children, singing and blessing each one.
The smell of urine was everywhere - on the children, on my clothes, on my skin. It was overwhelming to me, yet I couldn't stop holding them. My son could be one of them in a few years. Lord, please hasten our process.
In the meantime, I will hold the children and support those who are coming alongside these children. I've met so many wonderful people who are providing medical care each week to the children, or working to provide material needs for the children. Specifically, another adoptive mom, Laurel Greer has started a non-profit to come alongside this orphanage. She is doing a "Crocs" shoe drive right now, which will be followed by a developmental toys drive. She sends the supplies from the States with other families who are adopting. To learn more, please visit http://four4-more.blogspot.com
My son, you are loved and longed for.
Monday, November 2, 2009
There was a well or cistern of some form full of trash, so I hunkered down ( to the surprise of the children) and started pulling out trash until a cockroach scared me out.
Lian, the hard worker.
Dano and the boys trying to fill the huge ditch at the end of the tarmac.
Anna and her fellow trash picker-uppers.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I went to a meeting the other day at the Free Methodist church in Gikondo. Good people. Incredible hearts for the handicapped, the widow, the HIV-AIDS victim, the youth. We walk past the old church, being remodeled for a new Bible training center. 165 people were killed there. In cold blood. By their neighbors and friends, sanctioned by their Bishop. I am asked to see the future. To help with the future. Yet, the past is right there in front of me and I find myself fighting tears, seeing ghosts. The dead still speak.
Our security guard and gardener returns home from an evening out. He asks me for permission to return home to the North next week so he can pay his school fees and receive his diploma. He asks me in broken, yet understandable English sentences. I have been paying 8,000 francs ($12 USD) a week to study Kinyarwandan and I still can't have a two sentence conversation with Zechariah. He could not speak more than three words of English three weeks ago, but each night he studies a worn out 1970s textbook the gardener across the street lent him. And he can talk to me. I envy him.
Our househelper, Consolee, can barely stay awake by 3:00 pm. There are no Starbucks runs here. I tell her that she can take an hour break – I had assumed she would. One can't assume. I am the boss. I direct the program. If I don't make it clear that she can take a break, than she doesn't. I want to kick myself for not recognizing this earlier. I ask her when she studies for I know she goes to school six days a week after working for us nine hours a day. She says she wakes up at 3 or 4 am to study, before getting her five children up and ready for school. Her mother died when she was 16, so she had to quit school. Now she is determined to finish. I let her go early that day.
I met a woman on the plane. We are becoming friends, having weekly playdates with our daughters, taking Pilates together. She is Rwandan, but has only spent four months in Rwanda until now. Her family fled in 1959, so she grew up in Uganda. Her family returned to Rwanda after the genocide. She studied in the United States. Her family is of the elite. She asks me when I adopt if I will adopt a Hutu or a Tutsi. I don't hesitate to say, “It will not matter to us.”
The genocide is still the point in time by which everything else is defined here. The country wants to move forward. It is moving forward. I walk by people on the street and wonder what their story is. The number of crippled people here is staggering. No one needs to ask why they are maimed. I truly cannot begin to fathom the depths of the evil done by people to people. It has been fifteen years. My life here is good. We are doing good things to help build the economy. We will be forever connected to this country through our son's blood. My heart cries out for healing for this beautiful land. My soul is humbled by the people I meet. My mind seeks to grasp all I can learn so I can understand the stories of these people through their own language. It has only been three weeks. Time, time....
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I attended a Bible Study today with other Westerners and the theme was on...yes, "Being Still." The author of the study said the Hebrew word for this expression is "rapah" which literally means to relax, be lazy, be discouraged, be slack, weak." When I've heard or read these words before in Psalm 46, I never viewed them in a negative way. I always thought it mean to just be quiet, relax. But this Hebrew word implies so much more...it requires one to literally give up control. That is what I feel I am to be doing...to give up control of what my ideas are for my time in Rwanda.
"But, wait," I cry. "There are street children and orphans and widows...your word cries out for them, so I should do something now." And, yet, I keep hearing....just listen and learn.
So I have been here three weeks now this evening. While we're still lacking certain furniture and comforts of home, I feel quite settled into life in Kigali. So I want to know what is next. Dano is busy with Karisimbi and I am thrilled by how that is going, but my heart is for the orphan and I want to know what I am supposed to do for the orphan. I met with a wise woman today who has lived in Rwanda for five years and works with African Enterprise. I told her of my struggle and she was so encouraging to me today. She said, "The best thing you could do right now is to listen and learn because you're not just listening and learning for opportunity, you're listening to the culture."
The guys have commented that they are so glad we had several months to just meet with business leaders, organize our thoughts, meet with the leaders again, reorganize our thoughts, meet with them again, etc., because now the final product is so much better and the clients have tremendous buy-in. Every day the guys learn something new about a potential client or Rwandan politics or business and with each lesson comes a better focused direction for our company. I believe that is what is happening with me as I seek to discern how to best serve here.
So I have decided to just start meeting with people who are doing orphan care work, to hear their hearts, to see the needs, to simply be present. I'm starting to see and believe that so much "good work" that is often done is often done too quickly. It is still good work, but it could be so much better if the idea and heart behind it were given time to "Be still."
Friday, October 16, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
The reporter saw the chalk painting that our friend had commissioned of the girls at the Providence Street Festival and wanted to know the story behind it. Dano did the interview via Skype, so there are a few misspellings and omissions, but it was still nice to have the free press.
We also have a blog for Karisimbi at www.karisimbipartners.blogspot.com
So we've been here nine days already. In January 2008, my college roommate, Anne Mugofwa, told me on a phone call that I would find myself in Africa much sooner than I expected. I told her we kept getting sidetracked by Asia. Who would have guessed?! Anne has never been to Rwanda, but the company she works for just decided to open an office here, so she was here on Wednesday and will be back in a few weeks. We managed to get breakfast together. I think it was rather surreal for both of us. When we were in college, we always dreamed of doing some great work together that would bridge our continents. Now we are on the same continent. I'm still in a season of listening, absorbing and learning, so am not jumping the gun on any work-related ventures (outside of helping us launch our company), but it is fun to wonder how Anne and I may do something together in the future.
Lian had a great first week of school and seems to be doing well. We decided that we city folk need to embrace our new surroundings and our beautiful yard and welcome a few more additions to our family. So meet "Sunny and Joy" - these are our gifts to our girls for being such troopers this summer. We met this guy who was giving them away for free. And he has someone make the cage for us. The girls were so surprised! We saw them today and chose two boys (yes, boys, even though Anna named hers Joy) so as to prevent future bunnies from being born. We will go back next week to bring them home. Hmmmm...chickens might be next since we do have the chicken coop...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
It is hard to believe we have been here six days. I actually feel like I have lived here for much longer than that. Now I don't think I could have said that the first two days, but now I am starting to feel at home. The past two days in particular have been wonderful.
Kerry, Kristin and I went to a Bible study for women today. There are two women there who've adopted Rwandan babies, so another great community to connect with.
On the Karisimbi front, the guys have their first strategic planning retreat this weekend and it looks like three more definite clients are in the works. We have eight proposals out to other potential clients and things continue to move forward.
I just realized this posting isn't really my reflections, but more newsy. I"ll try to be more reflective in my next post because there is definitely a lot upon which to reflect here.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
We were without water yesterday. The emergency tank was empty. Then the electricity goes off almost every day for an hour or more, so that is fun. But, we truly have so much to give thanks for. One hundred yards from our home is a common clustering of shanties and mud houses. The children from this area hang out on our street a lot. While waiting for our ride yesterday, the girls and I orchestrated a game of tag with the neighborhood kids. We had a blast and I hope to see Jackie, Nadesh, Daniel, and Christian again soon. I truly have nothing to complain about when the water tank is empty. Most of these families have to walk to a well to fill their jerry can with water.
I am truly understanding the need for our home to be our refuge. Maybe that sounds selfish, but there are so many needs all around and just doing life takes a lot out of you - and it's only been 48 hours! It is nice to return to our home and just feel safe and surrounded by a few things that make us feel at home. I am very grateful for the beautiful garden we have and I am determined to grow something successfully :) Lian is most excited to eat the mango, papayas and avocadoes growing from our trees.
Lian starts school on Monday and we are going to meet her teacher tomorrow. Anna will really miss having her big sister around, but we met a young woman on the plane who is Rwandan, but has lived in California for the past ten years. Olive has a three year old daughter, who was also on the plane. We hit it off and she asked if we could get together sometime. She wrote me today and Anna has her very first playdate next week. Hard to believe my three year old has lived on three continents in three years.
The guys are hard at work already with Karisimbi. They are hosting a strategic planning retreat with Gerard Sina of Sorwatum, a tomato processing company, in a week or two. And they continue to meet with potential clients. The need for these small to medium size companies in this country is great.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Kurt and Mary completely surprised us with an incredible gift. Kurt was a sponsor of the Providence Rotary Club Street Festival fundraiser. He wanted to show us the chalk art done by various artists. As we were walking on the path, we came to one entitled, "Love is Patient" and there was an incredible portrait of our girls. Kurt had hired a local artist friend to creat the beautiful picture you see here. Dano and I did not know what to say.
It seems we've been speechless most of this trip. We are blessed with incredible friends and family members who inspire us with their generosity, humility, good works, and faith. So thank you to everyone who made this "Great American Journey" possible. Now we set off for another tomorrow morning...one we know is already changing our lives forever.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Today, Anna said, "Thank you mommy for getting me a little brother. I SoOOOO excited!"
And Lian is already making her list of names for him.
We feel very blessed.
12 days left till we move to Rwanda...in that time we will attend my brother's wedding, drive to Boston, see some Revolutionary War sites, visit our good friends the Mollenhauers, drive to Warren, RI to stay with our dear friends, the Jamiels, and then attend Amy Macera's wedding, which will be my annual reunion with my college roommates, and then finally drive to NJ on the 27th to stay with the Peixotos, before their daughter, Caroline, joins us on the flight to Rwanda on the 28th. Whew....my emotions are starting to run a little high by this reality.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Read This Year
A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It by Steven Kinzer
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
The Bishop of Rwanda by John Rucyahana and James Riordan
The Mission Song by John Le Carre
Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowd
The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence by Martin Meredith
The Covenant by James Michener
Still to Read
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It by Paul Collier
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz
Please let us know if you have any other suggestions for us.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"Where are we?"
"Did Mrs. Sippie eat my fruit rollup?"
"Keep your eyes open girls for a restaurant."
"No, Daddy. I will keep my eyes closed for a restaurant."
Monday, July 13, 2009
“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.”
and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner.
This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century’s liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of another nation, it is even more important to build one’s own.
So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana — and for Africa — as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of promise. Only this time, we have learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. Instead, it will be you — the men and women in Ghana’s Parliament, and the people you represent. Above all, it will be the young people — brimming with talent and energy and hope — who can claim the future that so many in my father’s generation never found.
To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: development depends upon good governance.
As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend. I have pledged substantial increases in our foreign assistance, which is in Africa’s interest and America’s. But the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by — it is whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.
This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership.
The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on commodities — or on a single export — concentrates wealth in the hands of the few and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.
In Ghana, for instance, oil brings great opportunities, and you have been responsible in preparing for new revenue. But as so many Ghanaians know, oil cannot simply become the new cocoa. From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and infrastructure; when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled work force and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.
As Africans reach for this promise, America will be more responsible in extending our hand. By cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, we will put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves. That is why our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers — not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it is no longer needed.
America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way. And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; and financial services that reach poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interest — for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, new markets will open for our own goods.
One area that holds out both undeniable peril and extraordinary promise is energy. Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change. A warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and conflict. All of us — particularly the developed world — have a responsibility to slow these trends — through mitigation, and by changing the way that we use energy. But we can also work with Africans to turn this crisis into opportunity.
Together, we can partner on behalf of our planet and prosperity and help countries increase access to power while skipping the dirtier phase of development. Across Africa, there is bountiful wind and solar power; geothermal energy and bio-fuels. From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coast to South Africa’s crops — Africa’s boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad.
These steps are about more than growth numbers on a balance sheet. They’re about whether a young person with an education can get a job that supports a family; a farmer can transfer their goods to the market; or an entrepreneur with a good idea can start a business. It’s about the dignity of work. Its about the opportunity that must exist for Africans in the 21st century.
America has a responsibility to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity.
With strong institutions and a strong will, I know that Africans can live their dreams in Nairobi and Lagos; in Kigali and Kinshasa; in Harare and right here in Accra.
Now, that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: “It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice.”
And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it.
You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.
But these things can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. It won’t be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Opportunity won’t come from any other place, though _ it must come from the decisions that you make, the things that you do, and the hope that you hold in your hearts.Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom’s foundation.”
Monday, July 6, 2009
Daddy - "It's time for the Quiet Game."
Lian - "I LOVE that game!" (proceeds to be silent for the next ten minutes)
Anna - "No."
Anna - "Let's play game."
Anna - "What game, Daddy?"
Daddy - "The quiet game, Anna."
Anna - "Oh. What's that?"
Anna - "We play game."
Anna - "Mom, you be Bob. I be Cucumber (referring to Bob and Larry from Veggie Tales)"
Anna - "What, ma?" (I hadn't said anything)
Anna - "Momma - you be Bob. I be cucumber. Mom?"
Mommy - "Look, Anna, we are almost home. I can't be Bob."
Anna - "Home to Texas house?"
Mommy - "Yes, Anna."
Anna - "We aren't. You be Bob. I be cucumber."
and then we pulled in the driveway. So much for the quiet game :)
Children will rise to the occasion. If they hear you talking pre-trip about how tough the road trip is going to be in front of them, they will probably think it's going to be difficult. So make the preparations fun. Be excited about it in front of them. Don't complain in front of them.
Emphasize Team-work. We always start out any trip with a little family cheer. May sound corny, but I think it reemphasizes the fact that we are a team. If one of us is grumpy, it affects the rest of us. We are a team and we have to work together to make our trip a success. That means everyone has to help. S
The Power of Music and Podcasts. Prior to moving all our earthly possessions, Dano downloaded all of our music onto his IPod, so we wouldn't have to bring any CDs to Rwanda. According to Anna, classical music is her favorite. Anna is a non-stop talker. When she's not talking, she is singing to herself. This has driven us a little crazy on this trip, but we found that classical music helps calm her. We've also downloaded our own podcasts, not just kids music - i.e. BBC, 60 Minutes, Tim Keller sermons, along with enough 80's music to keep us going - stuff that makes us feel like adults. We tell the kids this is our tiem to listen to the radio and we expect them to respect that. Again, have high expectations - they will rise to it.
Two Hour Jumping Jack Stops and Find the Mc-Ds with a Playground. The kids need to run around and so do the adults. We tried stopping every 2 to 2 1/2 hours and we all did jumping jacks together outside the car. Pretty funny looking, but you'll never see the people at the gas station again :) The playgrounds at Mc-Ds were definite life-savers. We never spent more than 30 minutes at a rest-stop and never sat down at a restaurant. Always took our food with us - as that kept the girls busy in the car.
Fun, but relatively healthy snacks. The girls love the fruit roll-ups we brought and they take a long time to eat, so they're great! String cheese kept in the cooler is also great. We also got each girl a little bag of candy and when they're extra good, we give them a couple jellybeans or whatever is in their stash. And definitely give the incentive of at least one DQ stop. It's an incentive for the parents as well :)
Lian's Advice - Lian has her own blog for her friends called www.lianmeistravels.blogspot.com. If you want to check it out, send her an email at email@example.com, as it is a private blog. She wrote down some of her advice last night, which we'll try to post soon. Some of the advice was to bring lots of books and stickers and eat lots of snacks. I probably packed too many books. Would definitely go lighter on that load.
OK - those are some quick thoughts for the morning. Let me know if you have any questions.
It was six hours to Bend, six to Boise, ID, where we stayed with Laura and Peter Barton before leaving at 7 am on July 3. We thought it was a 12 hour drive to Colorado Springs. I was a little mistaken - 17 hours later we arrived to Matt and Melody Monberg's home - at midnight. And we only stopped twice for 30 minutes each. The girls were incredible.
On July 4, we drove 7 hours to Amarillo, TX, where we had the chance to stay with some friends of my parents - the Ramirezes. We watched the fireworks in the heart of Texas. Felt very patriotic. On July 5, we drove the last six hours to Ft. Worth. A friend in Dallas told us about some missionary housing that the Southern Baptists have. We cold-called Cross Timber church in Burleson, TX and they are graciously letting us stay in their guest house even though we aren't technically "missionaries." We cannot believe their generosity - it is a 3 bedroom rambler, super comfortable, with a huge yard. The girls are so excited to have their own room and Lian quickly set up and organized their room. As much as we are so grateful for the generosity and hospitality of our friends, it felt so nice to set up home (even though it's only two weeks) as just our family.
We took Lian to the Hope Connection camp this morning at Texas Christian University. This is a camp run by Dr. Karyn Purvis (author of The Connected Child) and is for adopted children who have some emotional needs (attachment/sensory) due to being in institutional care when they were babies. There are only ten 5-8 year olds. It is a normal fun day camp, but everything that is done is done in a way to help the children heal neurologically and emotionally. We immediately fell in love with Dr. Purvis upon arriving. We are the only non-Texas family and are grateful they made an exception for us. Lian was immediately put at ease and is so excited for the water-balloon fights, swimming, and arts they have promised. She has a buddy named Sarah, who is a senior Psych major at TCU. We left her this morning so grateful for this opportunity.
So...our time in Ft. Worth has begun. We do not have internet at the house, so our time on the internet may be a little intermittent. Thanks for everyone's prayers for our safe travel.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I'll try to post some photos of the move in a few days. Needless to say, life is going full-throttle right now. We have some form of a goodbye dinner with someone almost every evening for the next two weeks. Here is our plan:
June 1-19 - Live with our friends, the Selbys, while Lian finishes kindergarten
June 20 - Jen speaks at Pacific Northwest Conference about Children's Hope Chest /attend farewell for Dano's brother and sister-in-law, who also happen to be moving overseas for a year (to Brazil)
June 21-30 - Live with Dano's mom
July 1 - Lian's ballet recital and then we all get into the car and start driving across the country
July 6-17 - Arrive to Ft. Worth Texas for Lian to attend the Hope Connection camp - a camp geared towards helping families with adopted children.
July 17-Aug 5 - Travel Eastward, stopping to see friends and familyi along the way.
Aug 5 - Sep 19 - In Vermont for some much needed rest and to get ready for my brother's wedding on Sep 19
Sep 26 - attend another good friend's wedding in Mass.
Sep 29 - Fly out for Rwanda
Carter Crockett, our partner, moves to Rwanda July 14. His family joins him Aug 21. Dano may have to fly to Rwanda once during the summer. We are still waiting word on that.
I'll try to do a better job at posting, but hope you'll forgive our lack of communication for a few weeks. In the meantime, do check out our website - www.karisimbipartners.com. You can join our mailing list by clicking on "connect."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Dano, Carter and Kerry returned home a week ago after an incredible 12 day trip in Rwanda. The trip only affirmed the direction we are headed towards with Muhabura Venture Partners (we changed the name - that was one of the practical things that came out of the trip). They had over 40 meetings with Rwandan entrepeneurs, successful African businessmen and women, directors of various equity funds and associations, and governmet officials. The bottom line is that we cannot get there fast enough - the work is there, what we are proposing doesn't really exist yet, and our combination of gifts and experience would be invaluable. Carter and Dano have been asked to submit two proposals this week that could determine when exactly we will move, but right now it looks like Carter will be moving July 15, Kerry and the kids will arrive a month later, followed by the Jukanovich family after my brother's wedding in late September. Dano will probably need to make another trip or two before we move depending on how our proposals are received.
Many of our friends have asked what an incbator is. We hope our new name will describe our purpose more clearly. Muhabura means
"the guide" in Kinyarwanda. A venture firm invests in companies. We are investing our time and talent and potential financial investments into high-impact Rwandan ventures. We believe that in helping companies grow and succeed, that more people will be lifted out of poverty through the creation of capital and employment. We want to help people's dreams come true. Partners - many firms invest financial resources into foreign companies, but few get down in the trenches with the leaders of these companies on a day to day basis, helping them think strategically about where their company is heading and navigating the day to day challenges of a small business. We are committing the next 3-5 years to do so.
We are creating a business, but we are also asking friends and family to help us get to Rwanda. With airfare, 6 months rent (you have to put down in order to get a modest place), and shipping costs, we need $25K per family. Bridge2Rwanda has offered to accept these donations on our behalf - http://www.bridge2rwanda.org/donate/ just enter our names in the "other" section.
We are revising our prospectus this week. If you're interested in receiving a copy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The girls and I are holding down the homefront and will spend four days in Bend, OR visiting my best friend, Suzanne Baker. Twelve days is a long time without their dad, but we are thankful for modern technology that will hopefully let us see each other via video a few times during his trip. This is an exploratory trip to meet with Rwandan entrepeneurs, business folks, government leaders, potential investors and others who've heard about our incubator and want to help us get to Rwanda to launch it. Kerry will be spending a lot of time exploring life in Rwanda - visiting the school, looking at potential houses, hanging out in the markets, etc. They have the 12 days packed with meetings. Please pray for safety and health and a very fruitful time.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Just indicate these gifts are for the Jukanovich/Crockett business incubator. Thank you.
If you have a minute, read this article in Fast Company on the development of
I also went to a lecture last night by Richard Dowden, president of the Royal African Society/former
Caroline Peixoto went with me (Caroline is moving to Rwanda with us. I knew her mother when I was six years old. Now her 21 year old daughter is moving with us - crazy). It was like he was speaking right to us. He completely affirmed the direction we are moving in and provided invaluable insights. I was able to talk with him and in his words what we are setting out to do is “Brilliant.” Just a little encouraging. There also happened to be four Rwandans there who are interning at RealNetworks for three months. I talked with them for a while and will have them over for dinner. Just a really encouraging evening.
Dano leaves for
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It all started when our dear friends, Carter and Kerry Crockett, invited us to spend a weekend with them soon after the offer from Food for the Hungry was withdrawn.
We have been kindred spirits and dear friends with the Crocketts since we were first introduced to each other in Seattle’s inner city. Although we have lived in separate cities and countries for the past six years, this friendship has proven to be one of those rare gifts in life, the type that has connected, challenged and inspired each couple despite the distance and time apart. Carter had recently resigned from his professorship at Westmont College (he has been a business CEO/marketing exec and has his Ph.D. in entrepeneurial ethics). It seemed innocent enough to spend a weekend together considering God’s will for each family… but what emerged on that retreat was a common dream none of us suspected; a dream that has captured our imagination and interest in seeing what we could do together to join the work God is already doing in Africa.
Our families intend to move together, as families, to Rwanda to help alleviate poverty, build communities and share the love of Christ by nurturing new and existing business enterprises. We believe that there are two trends that favor such a vision. First, there is a significant demand in Africa today for enterprising individuals and innovative companies with the potential to build self-sustaining communities (and prevent undue reliance on aid or philanthropy). Secondly, there is a growing trend to use “business incubators” to facilitate and nurture practical aspects of this development in developing countries. Business incubation is seen as a potential next stage in poverty alleviation (beyond micro-finance), offering more than banking services, but the facilities, training and coaching required to aid in the creation of thriving enterprises. We are hoping that our experience as students and practitioners of business may equip us to provide the type of services typically encapsulated in the business incubator model.
Dano, Carter and Kerry will be traveling with Bridge2Rwanda at the end of March to begin the on-the-ground research needed for the business plan. We'll keep you posted.
Thursday, January 8, 2009