Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reflections - Ryan Twaddle

Ryan at Ubizima

When asked to give one word to describe how I was feeling, I said accomplished. Our adventure in Rwanda is over, but the journey never ends. I went to Ubizima where I learned the power of support and faith and how it can be used to fight AIDS, I saw giraffes, hippos, and zebras, I experienced the life of a refugee, I made friends that I will talk to for the rest of my life, and I had Happy Birthday sung to me in three languages. I accomplished phase two of Rwanda and now it is time to go home and spread the word.

With my new knowledge of Rwanda and of the International Team's Ministry, I know how to spread the word. I want to work with the Leadership team in FLY to create fundraisers to raise money for one of the many ministries we participated in. For example, $100 a month can power a pump to get water to families who currently walk miles twice a day to get maybe 20 L of water or for $20 a month we can send a refugee child to boarding school to receive a high school education that they desire more than almost anything else. There are endless opportunities to help the ministries, all we have to do is start fundraising. But, one group that I will be supporting for sure is Ubuzima. As they sang and danced, I could feel, see, and hear God in everything they did. I want to help them raise money by selling their products in our community to raise awareness of the group. They taught me that with support anything is possible, but I learned much more than that during my adventure in Rwanda.

As I sat in played in the refugee camp, I constantly noticed kids with chipped, rotting, and missing teeth. Almost every person had yellow or black teeth. I have always debated what I wanted to do when I am older, but I feel that this trip gave me a new idea of my future. I want to return to Rwanda as an intern to work on the refugee's teeth. But, this is not the only reason I want to return. When we talked to people in the camp, a common topic was that they like to talk to Mzungus to practice their English. I want to help teach the students English and talk to the adults who simply want to practice their skills. I am going to start creating short term goals, that result in a long term goal of Ryan Twaddle practicing dentistry in the Kiziba Refugee Camp. But, going to Rwanda has changed my life in another major way.

If you did not hear, both of my bags did not make it to Kigali when I did. Then, on the last day, hours before going to the airport, my carry-on bag was snatched from the mini bus that had be driving us around all week. He or she made away with my emergency food, my photo journal, my malaria pills, my journal that had entries from everyday, and my camera with 407 pictures from the last two weeks. At first, both times hurt, but I steeped back and noticed the bigger picture. I do not need my camera, bug spray, or more than two sets of clothes. All I need is my friends and family. When my things went missing, the boys offered me clothes and the girls offered me bug spray and sunscreen. When I lost my carry-on bag, my friends offered their pictures and a journal for me to write in. Yes, I lost every single one of my belongings at least once during the last two weeks, but my friends and family will always be there to support me when I need them and I will always be there to return the favor. I now understand how truly valuable everyone is and I will never forget that.    

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