I returned to Rwanda a week ago. I’m here for several reasons: first, to support our amazing and ever-kick-ass COO, Julie Greene, in all of her work; second, to on-board two new TWB team members (stay tuned!); and third, to welcome two representatives from our corporate sponsor, Rademaker, BV, to Rwanda. I’m only in Rwanda for one month, so it will be a whirlwind of a trip.
I usually feel a combination of anxiety and excitement coming to Rwanda.
The anxiety stems from questions like:
“Will I be able to accomplish my pre-identified tasks?”
“How much “help” can I provide, or am I really more in an oversight role?”
“How much can I actually do in a month?”
The excitement, however, thankfully and graciously, centers me to think: “Wow! Just look at how much progress we have made.” “Are you kidding me?! These women are now doing what?!” And, “Seriously, TWB team, you created this? It’s AMAZING.”
I had one of those “WOW” moments this week. I went to our bakery in Kigali to test the proper functioning of one of our ovens. I arrived and told the women, “Right, I’m going to bake some bread and test this oven. Would you like to help me?” They agreed. I began to prepare. I washed my hands and got my materials ready. Then, I realized, “Wait, where is the recipe?” I asked the women and they laughed. “We have the recipes in our heads,” they said. Impressed, but not discouraged, I said, “Wonderful! I don’t, so please pass me the recipe book.”
I started baking and one woman, Rose, laughed at me again. She said under her breath in Kinyarwanda, “You don’t know how to bake.” I stopped, stunned. Whaaaaaaat? I thought. I don’t know how to bake?! I taught you! But then the most beautiful thing happened: Rose gently pushed me out of the way and took over, still half laughing, half commenting under her breath that I didn’t know how to bake.
I stood back and realized that this was the best thing that could happen – the women were now better at baking than I was. The women were teaching me how to make bread!
If this isn’t a sign of success, I don’t know what is. And it is a testament to both the women and our incredible TWB team.