“I don’t know how you could do what you are doing for people that you don’t even know. It makes me feel happy and blessed that people who have never met me are helping send me to school. I pray that God will bless you with seven times what you have given us and I thank you.”
I think this was the most moving thing I heard on our first day in Kigali. Spoken by a young man at a vocational school that Aspen Heights helps to sponsor. These men value their education so much and have such hope in their futures that will be created through education that we are helping to provide.
When I first heard about Aspen Heights in Africa, and Africa New Life (the company we work with in Rwanda), I had my doubts. Are we actually donating like we say we are? Are we really making a difference? Is Africa New Life being responsible with the money being donated?
After today, we have all been moved and inspired by the difference we are actually making. Our first day in Kigali was mainly spent seeing the impact that Africa New Life and Aspen Heights are making through providing education. We began our day by visiting a men’s vocational school in Kigali, where we met multiple boys who wanted to make a change, get a job, and thank us for the opportunity to do that.
In that first visit alone, our eyes were opened to the impact that Aspen Heights has actually made on this project. We saw our funding being put to use through equipment, food for whole families, inspired men, and the start to a new and hopeful life; I cannot express the joy that I was flooded with.
Following that overwhelming experience, we headed to the Dream Center — the headquarters for Africa New Life. There we met the sheltered women learning skills that will enable them to free themselves, made advocacy videos with children looking for sponsorship, and the street boys longing to get into the schooling program at Africa New Life.
After seeing the impact we are making on schooling, we traveled to three homes of boys wanting to get into the Africa New Life Program. They had entered into the program after meeting the qualifications of finding somewhere to stay off the streets, and will spend a year learning and proving that they are going to work hard. Once these qualifications are met, the boys will start school with the program and hopefully continue on to higher education and make a significant impact on their country.
All because our residents invested in Aspen Heights, and Aspen Heights invested in Africa New Life. In the homes of these boys, we experienced many moments that were life-changing; from mothers and fathers blessing us and thanking us for the money that we give that allows their children a better life, to prayers said for us and our organizations for having sponsors that provide these students with an education and food to keep their families alive.
There are no words that can express what a day like today does to someone; but to be thanked and loved for the work we are doing touches your soul deeper than any superficial thing possibly could. For everyone who will not make this trip, know that what we saw today was a change. A change that Aspen Heights and Africa New Life are making together to build an eduction system that will result in the rebuilding of a country.