Our daughter Elana is going to be spending February 2011 at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. The village is home to orphans who lost their families during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The name of the village combines the Kinyarwanda word for hope, when tears are dried, with the Hebrew word for peace, a path forward for the hope.
Many people ask me (and Toby) if we think it’s safe for Elana to travel to Rwanda. The horrors in that country are now more than 15 years past; fearing Rwanda today would be like fearing the New York City subway system during the Wall Street boom of the late 1980s because of the crime rate in the early 70s. We want her to go, to teach English, learn some new dances, and come back richer for having given of herself.
Personally, this trip ties together so many of the things I personally believe in and support that it’s taking every ounce of my mental strength to not meet the Young Judea Year Course chanachim when they land in Kigali. It’s about physical sustainability and truly local community building, like projects run by Cameron Sinclair (a former Sun customer, visionary, TED prize winner, and great guy) and his Architecture For Humanity team. It builds on the notions of microfinance and boot strapping economic systems, which is why I was thrilled to join the board of the Microfinance Information Exchange. It’s engineering of the most constrained, and therefore most fun and rewarding kind, working on issues of sustainable power, water, and logistics (Read about the Tufts University engineering students involved in the Mango Tree Project tackling the electricity issues). And finally, it’s about tikkun olam, healing the world through hard work and “good deeds”, giving those things that are in perpetually limited supply: time and love.
Read Elana’s call to action on her blog (no, I couldn’t get her to use WordPress), or cut to the ask: Elana and her trip-mates have committed to raising $5,000 for the village before they arrive in February.
If you want to add your support, you can donate online, but please add the comment that your donation is “In support Young Judaea Year Course Social Action Rwanda (SAR)” so that Elana’s team gets credit for the fundraising and you get a heartfelt todah rabah (thanks) from them (and us) for it.
[Update]: Here’s how to get your donation attached to Year Course’s SAR. Make sure you select “ASYV in Rwanda” as the donation program. Under tribute type, select “Other” and then copy and paste “Young Judaea Year Course Social Action Rwanda” into the text box below it where it asks for details. You can honor whomever you like on the next page. Again, thanks for building hope where less than two decades ago none existed.