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Local youth ambassador's trip to Rwanda an eye-opening experience


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Karley Hewitt, right, and a girl named Colette the Bible Hill girl met in Rwanda. Hewitt learned about living situations in Tanzania, where Colette is from. Submitted photo

BIBLE HILL - Having spent two weeks in a third world country, Karley Hewitt is grateful for the simple things in life.

Hewitt, 18, was in Rwanda from Aug. 4 to 18 as a World Vision Youth Ambassador.

"We really do take the little things for granted," she said from her family's home in Bible Hill. "While there, we had to brush our teeth with bottled water, so we got to see some of the things that we take for granted."

Staying at a hotel that Hewitt said was nice for a third world country, she wasn't going to complain about having to shower in cold water on a daily basis.

"It was still so much more than others (living) there had," she explained.

During her two weeks as a youth ambassador, Hewitt, along with seven other youth, got to see the organization's area development programs in action.

"They sponsor communities in the hopes of empowering people toward sustainability," said Hewitt.

While in Rwanda, the ambassadors visited places such as an HIV/AIDS cooperative and hair salon.

"They train locals to do hair and after six months is done, those locals can go out on their own or start their own business," she said.

The ambassadors also had a chance to participate in a youth forum with African leaders in Gashora, where they met youth from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania.

"I really enjoyed meeting the different youth, especially one from Tanzania. She was 14 and was talking about an 11-year-old girl getting married. It's really interesting to find out what happens in other places from someone who sees it on a day-to-day basis."

She said talking to the 14-year-old girl also inspired her.

"To just see the hope that they have," she said. "They have no materialistic things but they have so much more. They have a sense of community - it's such a welcoming atmosphere."

During another stop, Hewitt spent time at a ‘child-headed' household.

"He's 21, so he isn't considered a child here, but he's has to grow up really fast because of his parents' deaths. He didn't have anyone that he had to take care of, it was just him."

Hewitt called the man "inspiring," and he gave her a quote that stuck in her head.

"We asked him why he wants to help others so much and he responded with, ‘because others have helped me.'"

The man, said Hewitt, attended the youth forum, however left early to study for his exams, which are in December.

"They are just so passionate about learning."

The man struck a chord with the Canadian youth, who all donated $10 to him.

"We learned that he was able to buy a goat, medical insurance, transportation for a year and some school supplies. It was very inspiring to see where the money went and how it helped him."

Having been home for about a week now, Hewitt has made one big change in her daily life - how much she eats.

"Food is so precious there," she said, adding the youth forum hosted a buffet for lunch. "The youth from other countries would go with their plates just filled with food because they haven't had a chance to have that much."

Because she has a passion in global importance and wants to work for the UN when she's older, Hewitt thought applying for the youth ambassador program would be a good idea.

"It was so worth it. Anybody that is thinking about doing this should definitely try new things. I came back so inspired by people. A moment of hesitation is not worth what you can learn in a program like this."

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

ABOUT RWANDA:

- Located in central Africa and known as ‘the land of a thousand hills.'

- Has a land area of 26,338 square kilometres with a population of about 12 million.

- Rainy seasons are March to May and October to November.

- Land ranges from dense equatorial forest in the northwest of the country to tropical savannah in the east.

- Highest point is 4,507m - Karisimbi volcano.

- Borders Uganda (north), Tanzania (east), Burundi (south) and Democratic Republic of Congo (west).

 

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