GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

My Returns Home

By Tara Pipes (GYC Rwanda Alumna, Summer 2013)

Tara in Rwanda, Summer 2013, en route to Kibuye/Karongi, where the delegation worked on refugee issues, rights of the historically marginalized "potter"/"batwa" people, and visited a hospital and two genocide memorials.

First Return Home: Tara in Rwanda, Summer 2013, en route to Kibuye/Karongi, where the delegation worked on refugee issues, rights of the historically marginalized “potter”/”batwa” people, and visited a hospital and two genocide memorials.

When I first flew into Kigali in July, stepping out of the airport into the open evening summer air, I knew immediately that this land, some how long ago is where I came from, and now I was returning. “I belong here,” I said to myself, “even if only for a time.”

I was right. Spending the summer in Rwanda part of the GYC human rights delegation was one of the most life changing and eye opening experiences. Not only did I learn about human rights, the practicality of action, but also my heart opened and ached with compassion for the people of this land, and the region. Visiting many genocide memorials sites, walking on the earth where so many peoples’ last breathes were taken, where so much violence was given, and so many bones remain along with untold stories, I was moved. .  As I spent the month in Rwanda, I listened to stories of survivors and refugees and I was humbled by the resilience of the human spirit.

Yet there are so many people that never got a chance to tell their stories, never got a chance to live their lives. Many children taken so young because of their ethnicity; innocent in their actions, yet taken because of a title. As I learned of these stories and all of the untold stories of children, I committed to do something. We all want to help. We all want to make a difference. We all say never again.  I wrote about one in a previous blog post called #26. Boy.

Getting on the plane leaving Kigali I wept not only for myself and leaving my new friends behind but for the unknown of how I can make a difference. What can I really do to help? Arriving in Europe to hike the El Camino de Santiago trial in Spain, I committed to two things along this journey. I would daily seek and pray for direction in love and in life. How can I be the change I want to see in the world? What is my purpose? And at the end of the journey there was only one answer. Return to Rwanda. Return to home.

Tara back home again in Rwanda in January 2014.

Second Return Home: Tara back again in Rwanda in January 2014.

In November I returned to Rwanda with my friend that I had met this summer, another international GYC participant. We are volunteering with the organization that we worked with over the summer, Uyisenga Ni Manzi, a NGO that provides psychological, social, and economic support to orphans from the genocide and HIV/AIDS. We are writing grant proposals to get funding for the organization for many different projects that help these orphans in many ways. Tomorrow we start another remarkable project that is exactly what I hoped to do: We are going to the cooperatives that these young adult orphans have started to listen and record to their stories. To hear where they have come from, where they are now, and what they hope for in their future.

There are many lives that were taken during the genocide and many stories we will never hear such as with # 26Boy,  but I am privileged enough to get the opportunity to hear survivors stories and make a short film to share with the world. I still don’t know exactly how I am making a difference or what my purpose here in Rwanda is but I know for certain one thing. I am trying. I am here. I am home, again.

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