I am sitting here talking to my travel partner, Charlotte, who is from Australia. We have spent a week and a half helping women in their cooperatives, making beads, baskets, etc. As we sit there and help them, we think how we can help them on a larger scale. The conclusion we've come to is that we simply don't know. There are so many infrastructure problems here that I'm not sure how I can really apply my skillset. For example, things I can help them do is create a business plan, set up a budget, marketing, etc. The issue - they have no access to the internet, to transportation, nothing. A lot of the women walk up to 2 hours to get to their coop. So how are they going to deliver their goods to the post office, to the market, to anywhere? How can they promote their business if they don't have access to the internet. They need someone who can help them permanently. They need someone 1) who can speak kinyarwandan since most of them only speak that 2) who can advocate and market their products 3) who can teach them how to create a business out of what they do have and much more. That task seems impossibly daunting.
I will be interested to see what the orphanage is like. Based on previous volunteers descriptions, the orphanage is fairly self sufficient because it has to be. It can't depend on volunteers coming down to spend a month teaching them english. They need to have some type of process in place to make it when there is no one else. So I think what we'll be doing is essentially helping them fulfill basic duties like feeding babies, teaching english, things like that. What they need are more resources. They need money to provide a cleaner place, to send the older kids to school, things like that. There are 600 children in this orphanage alone.
So, with all of that in mind, my thoughts are - how can I really help? I don't think I can. I don't know how to contribute other than showing up daily and doing what is asked of me. It's only 3 days so I don't even really know how that will help. It's a bit discouraging thinking that what I'm doing here may really not be that helpful, but what can I do? The struggle I think society has is that it seems almost impossible to abandon your own life to help others. It's not something that can be done on a 2 weeks vacation once a year. People need to be helping all of the time. But people have to support themselves as well. That's where my thoughts are today.
I also very homesick and am ready to be back. If I could get an earlier flight, I think I would, but because I've spent most of my time with the women in Gisenyi and no time in the orphanage, I'd like to do that even if it's only for 3 days. That's where I am today.