Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Amanda's Farewell Dinner

I had my first dinner party last night and I had to borrow things from most of the attendees in order to prepare and serve the meal. That is the norm in Rwanda because every rental house has different pots, pans, utensils, serving dishes etc so everyone contributes. It was inconvenient when the oven did not work but we pulled it together. I received two bottles of wine and one of them was “Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes”; I wonder how that got here!

The evening was a celebration and send off for Amanda, a talented young woman (In the photo above with Filbert) I have worked with the past six weeks on Project Akilah. Her pedigree is impressive being a graduate of the Hospitality Administration Program at Cornell. She has accomplished much as Country Director and if it had not been for her, Project Akilah would have NGO status or the MOU signed for the school land grant. She has also been involved in developing the curriculum. She has worked very hard to make things happen on the ground and the fundraising support will determine how quickly we can begin the next phase of work. Amanda will be missed by all the people she has touched in Rwanda.

The food was good and the conversation very stimulating. All ages (22-60) were present with every decade covered. Lot’s about everyone’s volunteer projects or work in Rwanda, people we have met, situations that are different from “home” (wherever that is) and how FRIENDLY everyone is here. It is amazing to all of us how many NGOS and non-profit organizations from around the world are working in Rwanda. The government supports growth and development that will help all Rwandans therefore it has an atmosphere of accessibility and partnership. In the next 5-10 years, many people will be trained and educated so organizations will be run by Rwandans instead of people from around the world.

Filbert is an Anglican priest and Executive Director of an organization called REACH. We talked a lot about his peace and reconciliation work with prisoners and victims. His new facility in Kigali (Photo of great hall under construction above) will be dedicated on July 18th and is very impressive. You can learn more about his project at

Erin is a student in Social Entrepreneurship at TCU and works with a jewelry coop that sells their products in the states. Most of the products are beads made of recycled paper. You can visit her site at

I feel very fortunate to have met and continue to meet such inspiring and interesting people.

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