Day 1 and 2 of my African journey consisted of traveling. We had one almost 14 hour plane ride, followed by a layover in Ethiopia, followed by about an hour or so stop in Uganda, followed by another hour and half plane ride, finally we were in Rwanda. All 30 of us hoped into two buses and drove a little ways to where we were staying the first night. The hotel rooms were extremely nice but what I was most excited about was the shower. After two days of traveling, being clean and putting on fresh clothes never felt so good. We had dinner that night as a team and than lights out. It's actually a little funny, as I was looking through my journal I read, "Well at this point I am starting to feel pretty lonely. Everyones so nice but they all already have friends. But when I see those kids tomorrow it wont matter either way." Well, it is true, that once I was surrounded by those kids nothing seemed to matter BUT the whole feelingsorryformyselfnotconnectingwithmyteam didn't last long at all. By the end of my trip I welcomed 30 more people into my heart and called them family. I know some better than others but every single one of them will always hold a special place in my heart. And yes, I already miss them all.
I know I said I would only write one story for each day but this day in particular day deserves two stories (and lets be honest, all the other days I'll probably be writing multiple stories as well).
Story 1: Today, before the Kimisagra Orphanage, we had the opportunity to go to the Genocide Museum. There are few museums that I actually enjoy going to but this was one of those special museums that I could have spent hours in. Every room and word that I read broke my heart but the one that just shattered everything was the Children's Room. In this particular section there were pictures of children on the walls, all donated by the families (some of the pictures were the only ones that remained of these children). Below the pictures were plaques. Each one was a little different. All stated the child's name and how they were killed, but they also added personal things, like who was their best friend, what was their favorite drink or food, favorite thing to do. I found myself covering my mouth, shaking my head, holding back tears, and filled with anger and sadness. How anyone could harm this beautiful faces. I can hardly find the words. As I walked through looking and reading about each child I wrote a few down that really stood out to me.
*In memory of our beautiful and beloved children who should have been our future*
Mami Mpiqanzima. Age 12. Last words, Mum, where can I run to? Shot to death.
Fabrice Mulinzi Mirega. Age 8. Best friend his Mum. Bludgeoned to death with a club.
Ariane Umuton. Age 4. Stabbed in her eyes and head.
Irene Umuton and Uwamwezi. Age 6 and 7. They were sisters and Daddy's girls. Killed by a grenade thrown in their shower.
Aulore Kireizi. Age 2. Burnt alive at the Gleondo Chapel.
Fillette Uwase. Age 2. Smashed against the wall.
Thierry Isimive. 9 months. Killed by a machete in his mothers arms.
"When I am in the midst of a large crowd I always think I might just find my brothers." - Rose age 10
"I didn't make myself an orphan"
Story 2: Kimisagra Orphanage was the first orphanage that I visited. There were so many faces, so many smiles, so many tiny voices, so many hands reaching out hoping that you grab on. Even in the short time that we were there I still walked away with so many things to say about Kimisagra. Some that will make you smile and laugh, others that would make you cry. That was every orphanage that I visited. So for now I will just tell you one story from Kimisagra.
Towards the end of our visit I had the pleasure of meeting Cloud, a 15 year old boy. He approached me and began to ask me questions. He had great english. We manly talked about Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, M&M, Lil Wayne and other "superstars" as Cloud liked to call them. Because this was the first orphanage everything was a little bit chaotic so as I was leaving Cloud asked me for my email address and I was unable to give it to him. I think about him everyday and wish more than anything I could rewind time and give him my email. But just because I was unable to give it to him than doesn't mean I am not going to do everything I can to give it to him someway, somehow.
There are so many stories, so many beautiful faces that filled the orphanage of Kimisagra. This was just one of them.
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