Urukundo Iteka or Love Everyday.
It was a phrase that struck me immediately after I read it in the chapel inside the Xaveri Centre in Rwanda. I told myself that it is such an inspiring phrase to keep in mind everyday as I start my journey in the World Camp in Rwanda.
Love everyday. We arrived at Kigali International Airport on July 15 and we were welcomed by the very accommodating Xaverians in the Xaveri Centre, our home for almost a month. The moment they greeted us, you can see their enthusiasm upon seeing us. I felt like I was with the people of our country, the Philippines. They were all smiling and very eager to talk and spend time with us. They toured us around the place while sharing stories about their daily life, their personal life. We ended the first day by shaking hands and hugging each other.
Love everyday. We experienced the Umuganda in Rwanda. It is a national day for community service held every last Saturday of the month. The people of the community are required to come together to clean, build or repair in the community. No wonder Rwanda is the cleanest country in Africa. Umuganda is making Rwanda a cleaner and better place.
Love everyday. We got the chance to visit the Kigali Memorial Centre where the remains of the victims of the Genocide in 1994 are buried. In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and some Hutus were butchered to death. This memorial is a very solemn and a tear-jerking museum. I remember that I found myself crying after watching the first video to brief the visitors. What made me weak was the section that has the life-size photos of the children who fell victim to the killers’ machetes. It is accompanied by intimate details about their favorite toys, their last words and the manner in which they were killed. Some were killed by the militia, some by their neighbors and friends while others were killed in the hands of their own husband or wife. It is beyond human understanding how the families of the lost survived this journey.
Love everyday. In the evening after visiting the museum, we were able to have a brief encounter with some of the Xaverians who shared their experience during the Genocide. I was uncomfortable that time because I really felt like crying again just hearing them tell their story but also looking forward to hear their bravery. They were able to share what they remembered during the tragedy and after that small talk, I found myself amazed at how resilient they are. I realized how committed they were to move forward and forget that horrible past they had. I am inspired how forgiving, strong hearted and faithful the Rwandese people are. Truly, commitment and forgiveness can explain Rwanda’s journey to resilience.
Love everyday. During our stay in Rwanda, we were divided into four projects. I belong in the group of Collection of Rainwater at the Southern Province. We helped in making two water tanks to collect the rainwater since water is very limited in Rwanda. We also made a vegetable garden beside each tank. You can see the people of the community helping each other. Even the children in the area were eager to help. We were also given a chance to play with the children as part of our program for Children’s rights. The children were all curious with us, the “muzungus” or white people. It was amazing how they want to touch you and to talk to you in English. Maybe, that’s how it is as part of a developing country like my country, the Philippines, you are very eager to encounter different cultures.
Love everyday. A beautiful family became part of my stay in the South. I lived with Chrys, Chantal and their two kids, Winner and Light. I was with Stefanie, my fellow participant from Germany. Together, we experienced being in a Rwandese family. My foster parents were so lovely and treated us like their own children. Everyday with them was so comfortable because we felt very welcome. My stay with this family will always remain my heart for they showed me love even though I am a stranger to them. My salute to Chrys and Chantal who showed me the value of family, simplicity, perseverance and dreaming big.
Love everyday. Being with my fellow participants from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, taught me many things. I realized that we may differ in our color, language and culture but our goal to make the world better by caring for the children is the same. Our love for God and service can be felt everyday as we took part in the activities prepared for us. I can say that everyone went home to their countries with stories, lessons and new hope for their people and their country because of the experiences of culture during the World Camp.
Love everyday. As the saying goes, “Your life is your message to the world, make sure it’s inspiring.” Life is hard and the world is such a cruel place to live with the humanity in chaos with itself and the world. But it’s up to us to choose good and be the change in this world. We are given a chance everyday to change our situation. We are encouraged to move forward, to be resilient, to be faithful and to be forgiving like the people in Rwanda.
This World Camp taught me that little things can make a change. As an Ambassador in Children’s Rights and as a part of this fast changing world, I promise and commit myself to make this world a better place everyday.
Written by Rusella Paulina Vasallo
Note: What is the World Camp?
Every 3 years FIMCAP organizes a World Camp as encounter for young people from all over the world. The camp always takes place in the country of one of our member organizations. The World Camp is not only an encounter between youngsters from the FIMCAP member organizations but also an encounter with the local culture and reality of the hosting organization, as the participants are involved in social projects. This year, the World Camp was organized by Xaveri Rwanda from July 16 to August 5, 2015.