Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Amy Benilde Uwonkunda
There is no better exercise for your heart, than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.
— Bernard Meltzer
It was really a good day but a bit challenging as I was thinking about the site where I would be deployed. Despite the moments of learning and enjoying everything within PST (Pre-Service Training) I had learned different new important things, acquired new skills, met new friends, and new experiences as well. I really love the life we spent in PST with my colleagues through sharing ideas, and life; I felt like we could keep staying together all the time although we had to prepare for being deployed to our respective sites. Sincerely speaking, “saying bye” was not easy to separate from my follow Volunteers and heading to my site at Bugesera District-Nyakayenzi Site due to the bond of friendship that have been built.
Since day one reaching my community it was a new experience and new lessons to learn, with significant help and skills acquired from PST. Staying with a host family was much safer and easier due to love, the way host parents welcomed me. I wished and felt like I could have that experience before; without being worried of where I should start to engage in domestic and integration activities. I find myself feeling at home in doing everything as part of the family however, host mother kept avoiding me from doing domestic activities and I was like no mom I have to but as days went on I fully get engaged.
After two weeks within host family I moved out and get installed in my house within my community as I started integrating different activities together with my community. It was a good experience and what I love most is how people feel for me. Most of them were asking how possible one can came in the remote areas live the same life, engaging with them daily; this is something that really touched my heart too much and made me realize that “love and kindness are never wasted, they always make a difference, they bless the one who receives them and they bless you as the giver.”
Another thing that took my attention most of community members were really in need of someone to talk to and listen to them. It made me realize door-to-door visiting has made significant impact to community psychology. I always engage in every activity that is organized within community. This helps strengthen trust and enables the community to be a conducive environment to work in. We always visited each other, which improves my level of confidence, empathy, my public speaking as way of communication, teamwork and I learn a lot from them. The most interesting thing when you get a chance to interact and work hand-in-hand with the community is bringing hope to someone just by listening, inspiring, sharing positive thoughts and this really comforts them. They feel and value their presence within community; listening to community means a lot. I feel courageous and forged me into another human being. This is an important lesson in my life because people here live a harder life but still they have accepted it. I have even made new friends from my community and really helped so much at the time of being bored. These kids visited me like every day as we play together and life goes on, which really makes me happier, feel inclusive and alive.
So far life is good with my community and I am really thankful for the progress that is being made through finding solutions from grassroots and letting the community design the kind of development that is better for it by engaging in different activities together intended to help our fellow members. This is the joyful moment because everything we do keeps us together and leads to purpose. As the saying goes, “Volunteers do not necessarily have time, they just have the heart; you make a living by what you get and you make a life by what you give.”
The most powerful thing that I observed within remote areas is that people have different gifts and talents even are really committed. It is a great opportunity for me to learn new things and meet people with different behaviors, expanding my perspective and becoming a part of a whole new community, that’s why I am still learning!!
“A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen, and a hand willing to help others.”