Just before Christmas, I went on a semi-last-minute, semi-well-planned trip to Rwanda. Last minute, in that we booked our flights the day before after a small hold up at customs with the wheelchairs we were donating to the country with Walkabout Foundation, but well-planned in that everything else was set up to go.
One of the most exciting things about working for an international charity is the travel. I get to go to some of the most exciting places and see some of the most amazing sights, most of which you would never see as a normal tourist. You meet the real people of the villages and you give them something that changes their lives forever. That’s truly seeing the real world – you could go to a five star resort with a great pool anywhere. You wouldn’t meet kids like this there either.
We visited Kigali, Rwinkwavu, Kirehe and Butaro over the course of a week. Rwanda is a very rich and green landscape, the whole country is made up of people working the land. However, one of the things that struck me the most is that people are still cultivating the earth by hand, and the occasional hoe. The parents of the disabled children that I met work long hours picking and weeding one small area of land. With the entire world using machines, and before that animals, there must surely be a way to help and educate Rwanda so that they are able to be more efficient with their agriculture.
Rwanda was a place that struck me in more ways than one. Some parts of the trip were very hard – and very emotional – but that only serves to help you realise what a difference you can make in a world so far removed from your own. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Rwanda in my life, but I do know that I’ll never forget it.