Rwanda: One Sister
As each day passes, it gets harder and harder to write or talk about Rwanda. You'd think it'd be because of faded memories...time taking its inevitable toll.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
An article about Rwanda scrolls across my newsfeed, and the blood pumps faster in my veins. A friend from my trip posts a picture from a Child Development Center, and I can hear the children laughing. I wake up, daily, to texts and messages from my friends in Rwanda. Living six hours in the future, they ask for updates on my family, assure me that they're praying for us, and send their blessings across the ocean.
I walk through Copley Square, formerly my favorite place in the entire world, and ache for the streets of Kigali. I walk along the docks on the bay and remember the shores of Lake Kivu. I wrap my arms around my children and long for the day when my arms will encircle my other children once again.
Absensce has performed it's loveliest duty: the fondness in my heart has grown beyond anything I could have imagined.
This week, I pray that I'll be able to impart a bit of that fondness upon you by introducing you to the most amazing part of Rwanda: the people.
I am so excited to introduce you to Dariah.
Isn't she gorgeous? And her physical beauty is just the very beginning.
I met Dariah my second day in Kigali. She was there to serve as one of our translators, and I was immediately drawn to her. That night, as I headed into the dining room for dinner, I saw her and her fellow translator sitting alone in the outer dining area. Of course, I found that to be completely unacceptable, so I pulled them into the main dining room with the rest of the group. My reward was spending the entire dinner learning more about Dariah and Hyacinthe (our other translator.)
Dariah is a young woman currently attending university full-time; she's studying to be an accountant. She's also passionate about health and fitness, working part-time at a local gym. And when she isn't in class or working at the gym, she's supporting Compassion as a translator. Dariah is witty, charming, friendly, warm, open, and caring. She is intelligent and quick. Dariah didn't just translate Kinyarwanda into English. She interpreted words, intonations, emotions, facial expressions, and body language into a beautiful exchange between our group and our Rwandan friends.
Dariah and I spent much of our free time together: laughing, sharing, learning. She chided me for my lack of fitness. I grilled her about her romantic interests. We fell into an easy friendship, and, as our days drew to a close, I cherished every single moment I got with her.
Friday, the day we met our sponsored children, was Dariah's last day with us. She was assigned to a different group member, and I was frustrated that we hadn't gotten any time to say a proper goodbye. Before I knew it, our visit was over, and we were shuffled onto different busses. I cried all the way back to the hotel...sick to my stomach that I had taken my time with her for granted, neglecting to get her contact information.
I was scheduled to meet my final sponsored child the next day, and I thought there might be one final hope. I approached our trip coordinator, Eugene, and asked him if there was any way that Dariah could be my translator the next day. He informed me that it wouldn't be possible. She wasn't available.
The next morning, I woke up, excited to meet Pracidia...the first child I ever sponsored through Compassion. I went downstairs, ate my breakfast, and then one of my team members came out into the dining hall: Pracidia had arrived. I walked into the lobby and got such a great surprise: Pracidia *and* Dariah were sitting there waiting for me! I was beyond overwhelmed.
Later in the day, I got the details from Dariah. Her cousin was getting married that day. Of course, she was supposed to be at the wedding. However, Eugene had called her to ask if she'd consider translating. She initially declined, and then, she reported, "Eugene said, 'Dariah, it's Lindsay,' and I knew I had to come. I wouldn't miss it."
Pracidia took this picture of Dariah and me right after that conversation. It's completely out of focus, and you can barely make out any of our features, but I think this is my favorite picture of the entire trip. Taken by a little girl that I love more than I can describe, it shows a young woman that I love more than I understand.
"I have never felt like this before," she said, "I feel like you are my family...a very close friend. But I've only known you for a couple of days."
"In America, we might call it 'Soul Sisters' or, if we're being funny, 'sister from another mister,'" I explained.
Dariah started laughing and told me they have a similar phrase in Kinyarwanda. "Yes!" she assured me, "You are my soul sister, my sister from another mister."
I didn't waste any time. I got her contact information immediately, and we enjoyed the rest of our day together.
Since that day, we have continued to stay in touch, and I can't wait until we're in the same room together again.
Dariah is an incredible representative for her generation. She is determined and ambitious. She is generous and open. She is full of potential and ready for the opportunity to fulfill it. Dariah is amazing, and I am so proud to call her my sister. I hope that you've enjoyed meeting her, as well.
At the end of this week, I'll be sharing an opportunity with you to help support young men and women just like Dariah. Please stay tuned! :)
My dear Dariah,
I know you're reading this. :) Thank you for the time you spent with me. Thank you for the sacrifices you made for me. Thank you for the love you shared with me. I love you so much, and I can't wait to hug you again.