Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Welcome ...Or Shall I Say... Murakaza Neza!

Hello Friends and Family...

It's Rwanda time! I'm just a few weeks away from my trip of a lifetime. I'll be there for four weeks, doing corporate pro bono work with 11 other SAP colleagues, experiencing Rwanda at a time of great promise for their economy and society.

But truth be told, I was somewhat reluctant to go at first. I'd hoped to go to China, or maybe Brazil. But then, the letter read, "Kigali Rwanda." My thought balloon filled with: "OMG! Yay! Oh, sh*&!" In that order.

Africa was one place I never wanted to go.

And let's face it, not all of your reactions inspired confidence.

My letter of acceptance into the prestigious
SAP Social Sabbatical Program, July 2015.
When I  first told some of you, your jaws dropped. Your eyes bugged out. You looked at me like I was crazy. Some said, "Good for you!" Others managed a smile and a tentative, "Oh, that's...great?"
One person even told me I should dye my hair dark brown or black.

At first you scared me with your response. But now I thank you. Because you made me want to go even more. Kind of like when you're four and your mom says do not put your finger in the hot candle wax. But you just have to.

So I'm off to a tiny landlocked country on the gigantic continent of Africa. Tiny as in the size of Maryland. Located in eastern Africa, it is surrounded by Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is true, Rwanda has a sad, brutal history. During the 1994 genocide, more than one million people died in 100 days. And that's what we mostly think of when we hear "Rwanda."

But 22 years later, Rwanda is writing a new chapter--one of hope and promise. Economically this landlocked country is on the upswing. It's capital, Kigali, is considered one of the safest cities in Africa. I will be working and living in Kigali. And on weekends, exploring. I even have a date with the mountain gorillas.

This new adventure reminds me of the time I put the dog in the car and drove cross country to live in Southern California. (I found beautiful beaches, a great job, and silly boys). Or when I took my first international trip ever, on business to New Dehli and Mumbai India, alone. (I found silk rugs, spirited people, and shoe shines for a penny).

Butterflies and all, I'm off to Africa. I hope to do great work that will mean something to at least a few people. And to learn all I can about the "real" Rwanda. I hope you will follow my adventure and share your thoughts along the way.

I can't wait to see what I find this time.