Lana Zazelenchuk’s blog post after her trip to Rwanda – December 27, 2015:
It’s weird to come home right before Christmas. I didn’t have any down time to process.
I was mostly ready for Christmas, made sure 90% of my shopping was done, tree went up before I left…… so I was ready when I came home, but I wasn’t.
My kids and Pat were so excited to see me, hugs galore for days. I was excited to be home but felt pressure to be normal and excited for Christmas with no time to process.
Once again I left Rwanda before I was ready… I don’t think I have ever left Rwanda thinking I’ve had enough time. I love every single minute of being there and learn more every time I go. I learn more about what Home Of Hope does, about how the program works and is changing lives and I learn more about how I want to help.
After interviewing a bazillion youth it became clear to me that sponsorship does work but it doesn’t end with sponsorship. There are other pieces to the puzzle and not everyone fits in the way you think they should, everyone has a unique experience. There are youth who get it, who work hard, who see their sponsorship as a gift, a stepping stone to a better life. They see it as an opportunity to change their future. It’s not simply a handout. So for all of my friends and family who sponsor kids and wonder if it even works, the answer is YES! Yes, it does. I met about 20 children who are not currently sponsored and it is physically noticeable what sponsorship does. And for all those who sponsor I highly recommend meeting your sponsor child. Truly there is nothing greater and you will never be the same. Home of Hope makes it possible for you to spend as much time as you want with your sponsor child as well, not many organizations do that. And it is an experience felt on both sides of the relationship. I met countless children who asked me about their sponsors and wrote special letters to them to let them know how they are doing. The joy and the love go both ways in sponsorship.
I am super excited to see the youth in Rwanda continue to become amazing leaders in their communities. I am excited to watch them be the first ones in their family to go to tech school or university and have regular income. I am excited to see them use their lives for something amazing.
I wish I could have stayed to learn more about each one of them and help them with some of the hurdles they face. A big hurdle being entering the work force, being allowed to apprentice for a company, for someone to take a chance on them. I don’t know how it is all going to play out but I do know I met several youth who have the brains and ambition, they just need the right connection with the right person with the right business. I am praying that doors will open for all of them and we can come along side and support them. We need someone on the ground in Rwanda with a desire to help the youth become productive members of society, because after all they are our future.
I hope I can go back again and see the progress they have all made… and more time to get to know them… I think about all the things we could do if we were there full time… I have dreams of where the youth program could go. And I hope one day I will get to see those dreams become reality.
The bean farmers! Co-op groups for the youth are working, they are saving money as a group, learning business and changing their futures. This was just one of many group projects in Rwanda (see picture above).