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A Journey to Community-Led Development: Finding Home Away from Home

Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Gisele Uwineza

I first learned about CorpsAfrica/Rwanda when I was working on a climate change project with a fellow Volunteer at a health promotion organization. She asked me if I knew about CorpsAfrica/Rwanda, I replied, “No”, and after she briefly explained what it was, I immediately searched for CorpsAfrica/Rwanda on Google and discovered that there was an application process in progress. I applied at that time in February through CorpsAfrica/Rwanda.

A few months later, I got a call and on the other side of the call, a CorpsAfrica/Rwanda staff informed me that I had an interview tomorrow after I received an email in July after a long period. I was extremely surprised and called my friend who first introduced me to CorpsAfrica to let her know that CorpsAfrica had called me for an interview.

Therefore, I went to the interview in front of a large panel, which was unfamiliar to me, and I tried to respond to all of the questions. It wasn’t an easy interview but they tried to put me at ease as much as possible, and after two long weeks (that’s how it felt because I was so eager to get a response), I got the best email ever, congratulating me and inviting me to the pre-service training along with the location, the start date, and the duration. I was over the moon that day, I informed my family and friends that I would be attending training and would go to the community where the organization would send me to serve.

Sunday, August 13, 2023; I packed my belongings and headed to the training location. There, I made new friends and was excited to learn new things during PST, where we studied ABCD and HCD, two subjects that are very beneficial in community-led development. I engaged in several forms of enjoyment throughout PST, including dance, yoga, and even basketball. 

After two weeks of PST, we conducted a pilot in which we spent four days with a host family, traveling there in the morning and returning in the evening. Those days painted for me a picture of the community we would serve. The first day was a little challenging, and it wasn’t simple to fit in, but by the last day, everything was under control.

Let me talk about the day of the swearing-in ceremony event. I was overjoyed and eager to help the community by utilizing all of the packages I had gotten by PST in six weeks.

 

Going to an unfamiliar place has several benefits; including introducing us to new foods, cultures, and geographic regions we had never thought existed. 

However, I was a little bit afraid and concerned about what I would do to make them trust me. Before I arrived at my host family, we spoke over the phone to let them know I was on the way, and I got there later, around 7:30 pm. My host mother, host brothers, and the group president surprised me by waiting for me on the street. It gave me so much joy to see them there!

They helped me with what I had, and then we headed home. It wasn’t a lengthy trip at all, but when we came to a bridge that we had to cross, I was once again terrified to do so, they assisted me in doing so, and after a short while, we were at home. As soon as we arrived home, the entire host family welcomed me with open arms, declaring, “You are now our child.”

For the past two weeks, I have been living with my host family in the Rulindo district, Bushoki sector, Giko cell, and Cyiri village. They are incredible parents who have not only taught me a lot but have also played a pivotal role in helping me find my place within the community. Their benevolence knows no bounds, treating me as their child. Their unwavering support and kindness have made it easy for me to integrate into the community

Thank you so much for reading this far, stay tuned for new updates as I dive into this journey of playing a catalytic role in community-led Development!

Gisele UWINEZA, CorpsAfrica/Rwanda- COHORT 5!

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