Agahozo-Shalom and Mwiko!!!

The boys and I have had the most extraordinary experience in Rwanda.  We wrote a one-act play about the First High School of Performing Arts in Rwanda with the teens from The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. With traditional music and dance, we wove in some hip-hop and modern music and spoken word.  We performed it in the Amphitheater in the village.  It was amazing.  They tore it up!!!!  So exciting to watch. Every last one of them (20 actors in all) blew my mind. So gratifying for all of us.  We wrote the piece from scratch with the ideas of these students.  Every subject from Love, Friendship, Betrayal, Conflict, The Genocide, Discipline, and Passion.  My dear friends Medea and Longine saw to our every need and we miss them terribly. I’m hoping to have Medea come to Charlotte to do a Rwandan Dance and Singing workshop at NorthWest School of The Arts next year.  I think the kids would benefit from her talent and her story… she was a survivor of the Genocide.

Once more the hardest part is saying goodbye.  These teens have been our family for the last 3 weeks.  Each one of them has made a difference in our life, truly. After the show we had a “get together” and they all shared what they had learn from the experience.  It reminded me why I’m an artist.  They said that they learned passion was an important part of life, that speaking up and being heard is giving a gift, that discipline is important in the process, and that love and acceptance is the answer. Wow!  Nearly bawled my eyes out.  These kids are the future leaders of Rwanda… remarkable spirits.

So once again, we packed our bags.  We headed to a school in the north of Rwanda called, “Mwiko”.  This particular school has no running water or electricity. With the help of Francis and Danny, our incredible hosts, we had a remarkable time in the town of Musanze. Each morning we headed to Mwiko Primary School, set on a mountain top between two pristine lakes… Gorgeous!

But even more gorgeous, were the kids…  I can’t describe the joy and wide open spirits of these kids. Shy at first, they each unfolded before us to allow us into their amazing world.  These kids live with the bare necessities, but have taught us a substantial lesson…. that happiness cannot be bought.  They LIVE joy.  They are all in need of scholarships to go to secondary school. For $2,000 a year, you can help a child get an education in Rwanda that will change the course of their lives.  Twelve In Twelve is committed to help in that department.  If it sounds of interest, please let me know. Needs are great….

The kids of Mwiko and I shot a movie together… they were able to shoot with my camera and we came up with something we were all proud of….   I will post it shortly.

Thank you also to Mothering Across Continents (www.motheringacrosscontinents.org), who helped us arrange our visit to Mwiko.  They are doing wonderful things for the school there.  We also had the great pleasure of meeting a man named Tom Allen, who has an organization called, “Bridge2Rwanda”.  He’s an American here in Rwanda, who has been instrumental in the development of many programs here in Rwanda. Please check out their website (www.bridge2rwanda.org).

And if all that wasn’t enough, we had the opportunity of spending time with Dr. Jan, the gorilla doctor!   She was awesome!  She shared with us many fascinating stories and insights into the world of the Rwandan Mountain Gorillas.  And then… I was able to go on a GORILLA TREK!  Yep… right up close… they brushed up against me!!!  Wild!   And yes, I took this picture and this Silver Back was right in front of me, checking me out.  The boys were too young and they have strict rules for visiting the gorillas… so I owe the boys a gorilla trek…

After sadly leaving Musanze, we returned to Kigali to lead a two day workshop for WeACTx… a program for kids living with HIV. We played games and did Improv…. danced, sang… laughed..  Thanks to Noam for all her help and inviting us to have such a meaningful experience with these beautiful kids.  They taught the kids and I songs, dance steps… but the most important lesson they taught was courage…

And if that wasn’t enough of an experience in Rwanda, the icing on the cake was getting to meet His Excellency, Ambassador Koran.  We were guests at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali and sat and chatted with the charismatic Ambassador Koran. Many thanks to Susan Falatko, Public Relations Officer, who made it all possible.

The smell, the earth, the sunshine, the tropical rain, the people, the warmth and the children will stay etched in our memory for eternity.  Rwanda is a special place that I know we will return to….  Getting on the plane now to Tanzania is bittersweet.  We have heard great things about Zanzibar … that’s where we are headed to work at an Art School in a little town called Mangapwani. More to follow:

 

 

10 comments

Good morning !!! Was itching for a update !!
Looked on ur facebook last nite before Dreamtyme !!
Will read in a minute !!!
Hey Turkey day & Christmas in another part of the World , how do they celebrate ?
Wishing you all a Happy & Healthy HOlidaze , filled with peace , Love , joy , harmony
Good Health , magical moments & lots of Laughter —francine

JD I am lost for Words !!! WOW — reflecting on the March days hanging out in ur Home
Figuring out what U needed for Visas to visit these Countries I kept saying what an experience this will be , an Adventure that would change Jackson & Bucks Life . Just reading ur accounts & the fotos , the Love , time , wisdom and Energy that you have shared and received nObody will be able to feel it the way you three will . With tears & a Smile and unknowns I am so grateful U followed Your Dreams, Passions & Heart —- one step at a Time Making a Difference in this. World ——-

Wow! I cried just looking at these children and hearing about them! Wish I could be there to hug them and love on them. Still miss you all, but I’m living vicariously through your journey and I’m so happy for you. You’re setting your hands to what your heart has a passion for; I couldn’t be prouder! Can’t believe that your trip is almost half way over. Miss you, love you and praying for you. xoxo

Incredible and so inspiring. Love you guys so much!

JD– I sent you a note at the actors lab email with the email of my friend who lives in Tanzania. She is a wonderful american girl who gave up theatre to work for world hunger, met a tanzania man and now lives there. You astonish me. xxxooo

I know I shoulnd’t but, you guys keep on amazing me … a play with native music !!!!!!! you definitely know how to reach people’s hearts.
Hugs and best wishes for the comming Christmas.

May the joy of celebrating the Birth of Jesus, help you bring peace and understanding to all those you find in your path.
May He always guide and protect the three of you …!

Roberto.-

The parts are so great….when all is done how will we all ever be able to wrap ourselves around the whole that is twelve in twelve! I am always amazed at the experience you boys have had in each place, and the telling of the story is beyond captivating…and it must be true that a picture is worth a thousand words because the way the light shines from your eyes and the smiles on your faces speaks volumes of the lives you have become part of and the love you have shared…and as hard as it must be to say goodbye to one “family” there are so many more that you have yet to meet and share and laugh and love with!!! My good fortune is that at the end of it all, I will have you still part of my family, and I get to bask in the glory that is the Lewis family….my heroes all! Hard to believe that in just over a month….yikes…we will be hooking up in Kenya. SO excited!!! XOXOXOBO

Such a wonderful break to take a minute to follow your travels and get reminded what it is all about. It’s a crazy time of year and your logs do such a great job to put it all in perspective. Thanks and safe travels

Again – you astound me!!! These pictures are so incredibly beautiful and you and the boys look positively joy filled!!! LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! As usual I can’t wait for the next report!!! xoxo

Hello from the Crawford family! Hi from Michael to Jackson. What an unbelievable journey you are on! While most kids Jackson’s age are playing Call of Duty 3, your call of duty is quite different. Continue the great work. The hardest trip will be back to Planet Charlotte…or atleast it will feel that way. Enoy the ride and adventure. All the best!

Leave a Reply