Who are You?
When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror …do you know who you are? So here I am 55 years old (shhh just say 45) and living in Pretoria, South Africa since July 5th 2013. For years I woke up and saw myself and defined myself by my athletic achievements, my loyalty, my successful business in real estate and more importantly my amazing friends and co-workers. That was who I was…I knew it. A few weeks ago, that concept was challenged. We were visiting a small village outside of where we were going Gorilla trekking. A friend of ours was building a home/retreat there in the village with the purpose of creating a retreat, but more importantly providing jobs and a sense of self worth to those who lived in the village. We arrived in the early afternoon and it was hot and dry. The home is magnificent and perched on the crest of a hill with a jaw dropping view of a lake and islands.
After touring the home for quite a bit of time he invited us to go check out the school for the village. When I say village, I mean mud huts, dirt roads, no running water, not very many indoor bathrooms. He had developed a lending library at his new home and was helping build a library just across the road and wanted us to “see” the village. As soon as we walked down off the hilltop and to the road we were met by a group of 4-5 young people. We told them we were heading to see their school and invited them to join us. Within minutes we had at least thirty children walking with us, talking with us, practicing their English with us. Of course they would introduce themselves and ask our names, what brought us to their village, did we like Rwanda and of course…who are you..what do you do? Well, we all told them our names and what our “jobs” were and where we were from. Seemed like a complete package of information.
As we walked and talked and peeked into their school their spirits were vibrant. We were invited into a home and on the way, walking down the dirt road to the home the skies opened up and it poured down rain. Two girls grabbed my hands to help me slide down a path into a home where the owner was out and we all headed in. A mud home with an open room and a table and chair inside with photos on the wall. We were in a total strangers home…all thirty of us. As we waited for the rain to slow a well dressed gentleman enter his..home..and saw us all huddled there. He greeted us with a smile and said…welcome! We talked and thanked him and then started the journey forward as the rain let up. A little 7-yea- old grabbed my hand this time and helped me step up the slippery path…this little girl was taking care of me. We walked to the next home and we were greeted once again as though we were something very special. They had chairs for all of us and we sat, talked and we were asked questions as well.
We stepped out back for a minute to see the family cow and were greeted by the brother who handed his daughter, Gracie to me, to hold. I felt honored to have this small being in my arms, this child like the others who are going to lead Rwanda into the future, to make it a country that was beaten down and then is rising like a Phoenix.
So, now who am I? Yes, I am still a loyal and honest person who has a passion for people, real estate and business and am part of a beautiful family. But, I am more, just like we all are. My village is filled with children and people who are loving, kind and supportive…just like Tom’s village that we visited. I am one piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is a picture of the world.
So, now I ask you…who are you?