Volunteering in Rwanda – the start of my compassion journey.

A local charity – The Goboka Rwanda Trust

A couple of years ago I volunteered with The Goboka Rwanda Trust for two incredible weeks. It’s a really small charity focussing on community projects that help to re-build Rwanda.

They work closely with local churches and PHARP (Peace building, healing and reconciliation program) to understand the types of programs that truly benefit the communities. Their promise is to give the communities what they know they need, not what we think they want.

Community honey

bee-header

I was effected by many things I saw on this trip, but the biggest impact was my new relationship with food.

We visited a community centre that produced honey, as well as taught carpentry and sewing. We were given a taste of it straight from the source and discussed the benefits that the income was having for their community.

Seeing the bees, the bee keeper and the community that were all involved with producing this everyday product changed the way I spread my toast forever.

The life of land

A second project which stood out for me was a piece of land that the charity gave to a very poor rural. It cost around £1400 and provided the whole village with food and an income. The smile and pride that the villager had for his cabbages was, again, life changing for me. These cabbages were a whole livelihood for this village – their production and sales fed and clothed everybody.

As we travelled from project to project we always saw women in the fields picking tea. They had huge loads balanced on their backs and often carried a baby at the same time. I was in awe of the physical and emotional strength of all of the women I met in Rwanda, and I saw the incredible hard work that went into our brew back home.

Conscious fashion

At the PHARP centre I was lucky enough to join a class of students who were learning how to sew. The popular western styles from magazines were pinned up on the wall and there was a board demonstrating techniques.

We also visited small groups in other rural villages that had been given a sewing machine and the skills to have an income for life. The villagers were mainly women, making them more susceptible to taking a dangerous path to earn money.

For £100 they had a sewing machine that provided them with a safe and reliable income. Again, I realised that the clothes I wore back home had a whole life behind them that I don’t know about.

Compassion for life

I will be forever grateful for this trip and what it inspired in me. The first steps of a rewarding journey into viewing the world as a whole, living and breathing the story behind everything we consume, and having a new compassion for people and the planet.

Get involved

Visit www.thegobokarwandatrust.co.uk to see how you can get involved, whether it’s £100 for a sewing machine or £5 for health care, you’ll be changing someone’s life.


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