The first time I traveled to Africa, I was unsure whether I should go on the trip or just send the $3,000 that the trip would cost directly to ALARM (African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries), which is the organization I traveled with. I was eager to see the world but was unsure exactly how my presence there would benefit the people. I was assured by ALARM that my presence would help the people of Rwanda & Burundi know that they have not been forgotten; that there are people in the west who care and want to help, despite our lack of response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
For me, this first trip was life-changing! I saw how the people suffered and was convicted by my own personal lack of response to their needs. I determined that I would no longer remain ignorant to the plight of the suffering; that I would do something.
Since then, I have been involved in numerous initiatives in Central Africa including:
- Managing a Sponsorship Program at the Institute of Women's Excellence in Rwanda
- Marriage & Women's Conferences
- Micro-Business Development
- Starting the Blessing School for the Visually Impaired in Musanze, Rwanda
- And of course, developing products & training women on how to make jewelry and sew products for Fashion & Compassion.
I have now traveled to Africa 7 times and each time I go, I am humbled more and more by my lack of knowledge & understanding of the culture and how I can best help. I have read countless books about Africa and effective work with the economically poor but still feel inadequate. Of course, this is exactly where God wants me so that I rely on Him instead of my own knowledge.
One thing that I do know is that I don't need to live in Africa to help the women we work with. In fact, I can help them A LOT more by connecting them to markets in the US where we can sell their products versus what I could do "stationed" in Africa. We visit all of our projects regularly to deepen our relationships with these precious women & work on product designs. Of course, each visit only makes us more passionate about selling the beautiful products that they make!
Thanks for your interest & support of our work as well as the women in our projects! Without YOU the burden these women carry in providing for their families would be far more difficult.