While watching the BBC, I was reminded that 20 years ago today I was at the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong with a CA Trade Delegation watching the events at Tiananmen Square enfold. It had special meaning for us because we were scheduled to leave for Beijing the following day. Needless to say, we were not allowed to leave and spent a few more days observing the events in China and similar demonstrations in Hong Kong.
That was my first extended business trip outside North America and was my most interesting adventure until this trip in Rwanda.
Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, and Hong Kong were exotic locales but full of every modern convenience and food I could relate to. There are inconveniences for me here but 57%of Rwandans live below the poverty level defined by the UN of less than one dollar per day.
Rwanda has worked hard to emerge “from the dead” and is forging a remarkable path to development. It is the safest and least corrupt country in Africa, with the highest % of female members of Parliament in the world-49%. It has a low % of HIV/Aids at 3% and all suffers receive antiretroviral drugs at no cost. One of its biggest investments is in Education. President Kagame knows that in order to reach their 2010 Vision, Rwanda needs an educated population and there is currently a 60% deficit of trained people in the private sector.
Whether it is philanthropic or private, US organizations and companies are assisting Rwanda on education, energy, water, railroads, eco-tourism, consumables, etc. I may have to deal with some inconveniences but I am fortunate enough to work for a company that allowed me time to contribute to a cause greater than myself…