previously published; dates may no longer be relevant
by Jason Benedict
I made it here to Rwanda safe and sound. I had a good seat on the airplane but had a heartbreaking conversation with a Ugandan lady who sat next to me. She is now a US resident and was traveling back to Africa to visit family. She was very outgoing and told me all about her neighborhood in Massachusetts, The positive experiences her children and her have had in the US, and the way they have generally felt welcomed in America. Then the discussion turned to Africa, and she expressed the kind of hopelessness that I have often encountered in various parts of the continent: she was despairing that anything will ever change in Africa. She said, “you people (I assume she meant Americans) come and help, but nothing changes, your grandparents came, your parents came, now you go to help, but even when your grandchildren go they will still need to help because African won’t change. I tried to encourage her that we are seeing change and there is reason to hope. I shared with her than I am hopeful that my children will see a different Africa than I have seen. However, I didn’t feel like I was breaking through.
As I mentioned, I have encountered this mindset before. This is a stronghold that must be broken. Can Africa change? Yes, absolutely, and I believe it will. Yet the problems are formidable, and our hope is not in human effort, our hope is in God. Nevertheless, this is the time for effort – effort and hope and prayer and faith! Hope is budding here in Rwanda. I believe that Africa is waiting for one country to truly make it. For one country to change and show the way for a new Africa. Rwanda could be that nation. There are ways you can make a difference!
I was able to have a Skype call with my little girl Abigail. She turns 6 today! Skype is a marvelous thing. I had a good meeting with our office administrator Barbara. A major goal during this trip is to build our operational strength here so that some of the load that our team in Virginia is carrying can be carried here in Rwanda.
Class tonight was great – It didn’t take long to break the ice, and the group really is enthusiastic and sharp. Over the next two weeks we want to help them build a strong business model and marketing plan for their business concept. We had fun with an activity called Sizzle! They had to introduce their business using the template – my name is ____ and my customers love my [insert product or service] because [insert the way their product or service meets a customer need in a meaningful way – must have SIZZLE]. They practiced with each other then shared with the class. Lot’s of fun! Please pray for hearts and minds that are prepared, and that they will be able to grasp and implement these concepts easily.