Wednesday, May 23, 2007

African Stories

I went to a talk at the University recently given by two men from Sudan. They were some of the "lost boys". Separated from their parents as children, they walked barefoot hundreds of miles at night, while being hunted by enemy soldiers. They recounted a life growing up in refugee camps, a life of hunger and deprivation. They decided early on that education was to be their father and mother. They have written a book.

Paul Rusesabagina also wrote a book, An Ordinary Man, which I finished not long ago. I then listened to the recorded version of the book, just to hear the sound of his voice and how some of the local names were pronounced. His story inspired the movie, Hotel Rwanda, so, of course, I rented the DVD and watched it. It was not too graphic, considering the subject is genocide.

Initially, I felt like getting on a plane and going to Rwanda to volunteer. The Internet allowed me to read some journals of Americans and Canadians who are doing just that. I felt less like going after a bit. So much of the volunteer experience is getting to know other volunteers and going on side trips and bonding with like minded people. Also, we carry so much of ourselves and our culture along when we go to "help". One woman wrote of being there at Easter and organizing an Easter egg hunt for an orphanage. She noticed the kids went along with it all and had fun, but really what they wanted was to eat the eggs. They didn't get eggs very often.

Mr. Rusesabagina has established a foundation to aid in the rebuilding of Rwanda and to care for orphaned and ostracized children. The website is here.

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