Friday, June 13, 2008

Stories from Rwanda

Isn't it funny how going from one site to another, reading one blog and clicking on a new link takes you to places you never imagined? Somehow I ended up on a photographer's blog, a wonderful, caring woman who just journeyed to Rwanda and came back with so much hope and love. It stunned me. I realize that here in America there are tons of people who need help, that there are children faced with violence every day, people who are struggling to make ends meet. But on the other side of the planet there are whole countries like that and much worse. Conditions even the poorest here couldn't imagine living in, and worse off, no way to fix them. There are no scholarships for the poor, no jobs that can help close the gap, not enough doctors to fight against the diseases that we have conquered here, and no judicial system to right the wrongs against throngs of humanity. Here in America, you can see a doctor if you have no money to pay, if someone rapes you you can go get help and society does not shun you, there are so many luxuries here that we don't even see as luxeries.

Once in awhile it takes a story to really make me reflect and put my life into perspective. Complaining that the gas is too much money, it is hot out, the refrigerator turned my fruit into frozen good, the toilet makes funny noises... how silly! How can I possibly complain when I am here, safe, able to stay cool in my house, have two cars to drive, have a beautiful yard with fruit and flowers? And most important- healthy children who are blossoming before my eyes, flourishing in this environment full of happiness, good food, and love.

I have heard lots of complaints when charities are asking for donations to help people in Africa, and while I can understand their frustration, at the same time I know that we cannot even fathom what harships those women face over there. I specifically say women because they are the keepers of the house and children while the men work, they are the victims of forced marriages, genital mutilations, and other punishments their societies create because of their gender. Here we can actively better ourselves, there there is little hope of rising above your station. All you can do is survive and pass your knowledge down to your children in hopes that they may find a way.

I light a candle for all those facing those challenges, and finding the courage to triumph. For all those women and children whose lives were touched by the genocide, whose dreams are speckled with memories best forgotten. And for those who are trying to help in any way that they can, even by lighting their own candles in thought and prayer.

Here is the story that started it all, thank you Jen.

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