Hope Global Blog

My heart is full

The HOPE Team - Monday, January 23, 2017

"Hey everyone, my name is Maddy, I'm 18 years old and have been privileged to be apart of the Hope Global Youth Ambassador program for this year. Throughout the trip, we've collectively seen things and experienced moments that truly bypass verbal comprehension, but touch the heart. The Rwandans we encountered throughout the first week of the program were nothing short of friendly and undoubtedly inspiring. I will always treasure the special connections we made with them as well as the unique course of each program and the beautiful smiling faces of the children. Our program in Ruhinga was potentially the most confronting experience we've had all trip, due to the large number of village kids that came to join. However I found it the most rewarding by far. The trip to Ruhinga itself honestly blew my mind. Considering this was my first time overseas, I think it's valid to say, I've never seen anything so breathtakingly stunning and picturesque in all my life. Rwanda definitely lives up to their catch phrase, "the land of a thousand hills". Driving into Ruhinga, all you could see for miles were a blends were these glorious rolling hills of raw earth and growing crops. Little mud houses dotted the surroundings and we were continuously greeted by the familiar sound of "Muzungus" (white people) out the window, followed by the excited waves and infectious smiles of the local village kids.

The church in which we held the holiday program in was located on the face of a mountain, overlooking grand hills and valleys as far as the eye could see. It was something quite unforgettable. Day 1 of the program, we walked inside and were greeted by a few shy smiles of little Rwandan children in their uniforms, bright eyed and ready to learn. More and more kids came to join as the day progressed, and the school children blessed us with some songs and dances they'd been learning. It was super special. With the help of our gorgeous translator, Jasmine, we were able to effectively communicate with the kids and get our message across that they are unique and have individual purposes and plans for their lives. I was surprised at how utterly enthralled and engaged the children were throughout our skit, story and craft considering the language barrier. It opened my eyes to the eagerness of these children to learn and engage, especially the village kids.

When you see that, it really makes you reevaluate the things we so easily take for granted in Australia, like education. It was confronting to know that the fee for a uniform to attend the school was only around $1, and that was a stretch too far for some families, so having the village kids attend too was a beautiful experience. It was an honour to be in a position where I could place value on them and show them how truly loved and special they are. The craft we do at the end of each day is always a usual highlight for the kids, especially in Ruhinga where some of them had potentially never held a colouring pencil before. I loved being able to go around to help and connect with each child. My heart was so full from the amount of beautiful encounters I had with the kids at the end of the day. It really showed me that love does speak louder than words, and a language barrier is no real issue when you can connect through things as simplistic as a cuddle, a smile, teaching them how to fist bump! The human heart connects through showing them a love greater than words could express, and that's been a special realisation for me personally.

Day 2 was equally, if not more rewarding for me. During our skit, we have a section where the kids are asked to show the rest of the class a talent of gift they have. Considering the group of kids we had was far younger than the previous programs, I didn't expect anyone would be willing to participate. However, I was blown away by multiple children wanting to come up the front and dance and sing traditional Rwandan songs and dances. They were so gorgeous, my heart was just bursting. After a really successful day, we got to hang outside with a few of the kids who refused to go home until we left. Jasmine our translator had left, so we were really left on our own. However, it really reinforced my idea before about how love can speak louder than words. We laughed, played games, sang songs, said some sad goodbye's. Overall, Ruhinga was such an enriching experience for me, and I feel beyond blessed to have shared so many special moments with the kids, as well as hopefully planting seeds of love and hope in their life. I hope they know how truly loved and valued they are, not only by us as a team, but by their creator and dad." - Maddy