I never come to the Mille Colline in Rwanda.....it is Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda. Today, for some reason I had a few hours to burn before I head to the airport to pick up Jock, Obed and Kiki. I stopped into the Mille Colline for a drink. I've been here two other times, pre and post remodel. Preremodel still had the original pool. Today it looks like any other modern hotel, however, I still have visions of desperate people drinking from a polluted pool in 1994. I look around the bar....I am one of the few expats (translated white people), and that's good. Very good. They have a band, playing a mix of very American music mostly old, Otis Redding currently. It is nice. I still see desperate people at the pool.
When I walked into the lobby I noticed a photography exhibition they were having. As I walked down the stairs to the pool area I notice the quote above posted on a wall near some photos of people who have impacted African over the decades. This quote sums up why I am here.
I talk to the bartender about the Team....Adrien Niyonshuti, he exclaims, he is a hero. The Tour of Rwanda? I want to know more. You work with the Team. We love our team. This is the new Mille Colline.
This country has come so far since 1994.
I look at pictures from Napa and the school visits Kiki and Obed have been attending with our documentary, Rising From Ashes. They talk to the young people about conflict resolution as only people who have lived through a genocide can.....
They are inspiring teens half way around the world.
Andy, our UK volunteer tells me in the car on the way to Kigali he wants to come back and stay to help grow a small farm for Team Rwanda to not only feed itself but to feed a community.....
Sometimes I am so caught up in the laundry, the search for money, keeping the riders fit and healthy I forget the impact all of us are making on the world in our own unique ways. Jock and I are not easy people to work for...we set the bar high, we are not warm and fuzzy...well Jock is, I'm not, but still people like Andy and Jody want to come back and stay, stay for a long time and help.
When Andy told me he wanted to come back to stay I laughed. Perhaps a bit too loudly....our life is not easy but I've come to believe some of us continue to search for meaning over convenience.
I believe we are not wanting to just visit Rwanda...we want to live Rwanda.
I say this with a moment of incredible hopefulness combined with a big black cloud of sadness hanging over me. That is how Rwanda and this experience has always been...incredible joy and crushing sadness within the same moment. This is the saddest week of my 3 1/2 years of living in Rwanda and being with the Team. I have been trying desperately to hold the tears at bay, but it just doesn't seem to be working anymore.....and the difficult part is I cannot even talk about it.