My trip as a World Vision Youth Ambassador to Rwanda five years ago has left a lasting impression on me, and has helped shape the course of my life.
This experience exposed me to some of the gravest injustices of our world – poverty, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Through building relationships with our beautiful brothers and sisters from Rwanda, I learned about some of the challenges of everyday life that are encountered, and the impacts that this leaves on them. I will never forget the young children, without shoes, carrying jerry cans filled with water for miles between their water source and their home. I will never forget hearing from young girls, around my age of 18, sharing their experiences of gender-based violence and female genital mutilation. I will never forget entering into the genocide memorials, and seeing line after line of the human skulls of the victims of the genocide.
I had always been interested in human rights, but this trip allowed me to see the stark disparities between how human beings get to live. I get to come home every day to a fridge filled with food, go to different places on routes where I feel safe, and choose any program in school that I want to pursue. This is not the case for every human being that lives on our Earth. However, World Vision allowed me to leave Rwanda with hope. I got to see World Vision’s transformational development model in action, where they are empowering individuals and communities to gain skills for employment, pursue education, and have secure water and food sources. I also got to learn about World Vision’s role in facilitating post-genocide reconciliation initiatives, which have further strengthened relations in the country.
My experiences from participating in this trip will remain with me for the rest of my life. It solidified that a career in human rights was the path that I wanted to pursue, and gave me hope of the incredible opportunities that we have to work together to ignite positive, lasting change on our Earth. I am now in law school concentrating my studies on human rights, and am working this summer at the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which includes working on cases from the Rwanda Tribunal.
Alana Robert, World Vision Youth AmbassadorRead other posts from The Voice.