1. ZOOMING INTO RWANDA
As described in a previous article, my interest in Rwanda began in 1994 when I was listening to the car radio while watching my son's soccer game. The news announcer described how Tutsis were being massacred by machete-weilding Hutus while United Nations soldiers - led by a Canadian general - stood by and watched, having been given orders not to use their weapons in defense of Tutsis.
The radio continued to talk about Rwanda and so I didn't get out of the car and go join the other "soccer moms" in the spectator stands. I stayed inside the car - with the door open for a clear view of the soccer field - and watched the game from there.
On the drive back home I told my son - Kevin is his name - what was happening in Rwanda but when he asked me where it was all I could say was "in Africa", having no idea exactly where on the map it would be located.
I have since learned that Rwanda is "the heart of Africa" and "the source of the Nile". The key to spotting it on the map is to find Lake Victoria (the big circle of blue near the centre of the continent) and from there go left to the top of the long strip of blue (which is Lake Tanganyika). Or find the equator at Lake Victoria and go left and down a fraction. Rwanda is almost on the equator (a hundred miles or so south) but so high up in the thousands of hills that it doesn't get oppressively hot.
Since my discovery of Rwanda in 1994 my interest in the country and its people has grown to such an extent that my husband and I travelled there last summer. Then, this past spring, I returned for another visit.
I was going to the 4th Rwanda International Investment Conference being held in Kigali and about which I had become involved through the RWANDA ENTREPRENEURAL OPPORTUNITY event held in Vancouver this past winter. But, Rwanda being so far away, I didn't want to just go to the Conference and come back. I wanted to make an adventure and a holiday out of the trip to Rwanda. And I didn't want to go alone.
That's where Kevin comes in again.
In the 12 years since that soccer game (when he was 12 years old) he's been hearing stories about Rwanda. He often half-jokingly says that I should take HIM to Rwanda one day. Needless to say he wholeheartedly jumped at the chance when I asked him if he wanted to come with me to Rwanda this time. He arranged for two weeks off from his job in the city where he lives and works, and started brushing up on his Rwanda reading - and I tested him on his ability to locate it on the globe.
We flew out from British Columbia - the most western province in Canada - and headed north up to the top of Earth where the distance is shortest, then down south to England for a touchdown and a change of planes. Then up in the air again over Europe and the Mediterranean and into Africa with a touchdown in Ethiopia, then Kenya then finally - after two days of travelling - we were zooming over Rwanda for final touchdown.
The beautification of Kigali was continuing, with new trees and flowers planted in the boulevards along the way.
As the taxi zoomed us from the airport to our hotel, I snapped a photo out the window of the changes that were evident in the eleven months since my previous visit. It felt good to be back, and it was being made even better by watching someone new to the experience, Kevin, become enthralled in it.
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