When my two sisters, when they were still happy and full of expectations, they saw us as the end of their miserable existence. We would mean to them the redemption they had been waiting for for years. This hope was maintained and increased by the man who acted as a liaison between Rwanda and Europe. We would make them rich.
From the first minute, the path to the highlight of our visit was meticulously prepared, namely the question of money. All life stories and experiences were put on the table, the whole village came out to meet us too for a better life. We sang, danced and even slaughtered a goat for the whole village. (we had to pay for everything ourselves)
We were indeed treated as the saviors. I came for my sisters, for the family feeling, to get to know them again and to taste something of their current existence and way of life. But also to tell something about our lives.
On day 4, the real intentions surfaced. We were now fully informed and acquainted with their present existence and their problems and now the main purpose of our coming emerged. 1 by 1 they put their future dream on the table and asked for our money. Money, money, money. Money is a thought that would solve all problems in their eyes. Unfortunately, the reality is different.
I could do 2 things: see how I can manage to get the money together and pay for everything, or do something about their passive attitude towards money.
I chose the latter, no matter how difficult it feels. Money is not just for spending, but a means of making more money. To develop this awareness it is necessary that people become active in helping themselves and that we, in that process, can offer support and help towards a better future. Waiting for help is not an option. So we didn't give any money.
This message came hard, to tears, because how are they going to bring this message back to their village where they waited hopefully for the money for a better future. The shame is enormous. Totally incomprehensible to my sisters and their children. In Europe there is an abundance of money, they think and so when a family member from Europe comes to Rwanda it is the great gift they always bring.
I think this should stop. This is only a short term solution that will not structurally bring the people of Rwanda further into the future. Giving money does not give development but only pays debts and creates dependence.
What we did do for the children (18+) was a challenge. Each received Rfr 15,000, not to spend but to grow this amount. This in the form of a game to change and stimulate their mindset and focus.
Our general impression of Rwanda is unfortunately different from the picture shown in the world. We have seen Rwanda, the prosperous part, but also the poor part up to the houses of the people, which actually only has 4 walls with a minuscule mat on the ground, nothing else at all. Future possibilities are only for the happy few, total control from the government as a result of which large groups of people, who are not elected, remain without existence.