Rwanda is often called the land of 1,000 hills. What's unspoken in that national slogan is that it's also the land of 1,000 valleys. As I traveled across Rwanda, I was struck by the winding roads, the constant up and down, up and down, hill and valley. Meeting with the Ingabo Ikingira Ubukene cooperative, I am reminded these highs and lows extend into every aspect of Rwandan life. From the severe lack of resources, to the pride felt in a hard-earned harvest.
My first experience in Africa came as as Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia. This is my first time in East Africa, as part of my Master's capstone project I am working with Africa Development Promise to improve our project cycle.
There is so much that is familiar to me here, from how water is more expensive than soda, the chaos that is the bus station, the ubiquitous calls of "sister!"
I have been welcomed during my time in Rwanda to stay with Africa Development Promise country manager, Diane. Her family has graciously hosted me and for that I am eternally grateful. They provided a solid home base, and helped me learn a little more about their amazing country. Diane took me to meet with the women of the cooperative. I was able to view the tomatoes in the greenhouse a week from harvest - they're expecting to get two tons (!) - and to see the training center in its final stages of construction. I sat in on a cooperative meeting and talked with the members about who I was and what I normally do for Africa Development Promise. After working for these women for 2 years, it was fulfilling to finally see their faces and shake their hands. They even taught me a song before the meeting was over.
Once you reach the top of a hill here, you are gifted with a stunning vista - made all the more beautiful by the valleys helping to define the landscape. It puts in perspective just how far you've come. These women are climbing toward their goal, and I hope soon they will be able to take a moment to look back and enjoy the incredible progress they have made - and smile knowing they've done it themselves.
--Carrie, Marketing & Communications