You might know that Pete and I have been building schools in Kenya for four years. We work in communities of refugees who were traumatized and displaced by political and tribal violence, and we have a special connection with the wonderful people struggling for survival in this part of Africa. In fact, we are now counting the days until we return to build another school in a new refugee community called Lemolo.
So it was especially inspiring for me to hear the current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, speak live at Wisdom 2.0. Kagame talked about Rwanda’s long journey to move past the tragic genocide that occurred in 1994 between the Tutsi’s and Hutus. Approximately one million people were murdered including nearly 70% of the Tutsi’s then living in Rwanda.
The road to rebuild after such massive trauma has been difficult. Essential to President Kagame has been finding a way to recreate a feeling of national pride and resilience in the Rwandan people.
President Kagame wants to build a strong feeling of everyone being there for each other. He uses Twitter to communicate more broadly with the people in his country. One special project occurs the last Friday or Saturday of each month when everyone is strongly encouraged to do a day of community service. All these hours have gone to building schools and clearing land for roads to be built.
Speaking of the government and the people of Rwanda, he says, “We must be accountable for ourselves. We aren’t victims. But, we can’t do it all alone and we will work hard to develop strong partnerships with organizations and governments around the world.” This is his overarching philosophy: we must be accountable and we can’t do this alone.
His talk ended with an inspirational performance by a women’s drumming group. Hutu and Tutsi women partnered together to form a drumming circle to help usher in a new era. Traditionally in Rwanda drumming was reserved for only men. These brave women united and crossed tribal lines to create music and support healing, love and connection.
Their next project is…..an ice cream business! Some of the women who originally joined forces for drumming are now going into business together. It’s a beautiful example of overcoming differences and forming new connections.
I was inspired to hear about Kenya’s neighbors in Rwanda rising to recover from their horrific history. And of course, my thoughts naturally go to couples dealing with trauma. What aspects of political recovery parallel couples recovery? I can think of a few similarities, and I would enjoy reading your thoughts on the subject.
I also look forward to sharing with you what I learn in Lemolo this coming summer.