Three planes and 2 days later we finally land in Kigali, Rwanda. It's been a long journey, over 19 hours in the air, but we're excited to finally be here!
The first thing I notice is that every Westerner in baggage claim seems to be here for some humanitarian purpose, as evidence by the large crates and boxes of goods coming off of the conveyor belt. It's easy to see how locals could view visitors from the "more developed" nations primarily as aid givers. I've been here less than an hour and that's my assessment. While I see the need for immediate and direct aid, long term solutions are important and at the core of what we're here to do.
Very few people come to "holiday" in Rwanda and I understand that. But what concerns me is what I call "kamikaze aid", aid that provides a short-term solution but doesn't have lasting effect or get to the root of the problem. (Over 40% of water pumps implemented with this type of aid are broken within 3 years so I'm very sensitive to this idea and am excited we've taken a long term approach that empowers the local people and includes them in the conversation...but more on that later.)
Tonight we had a quick dinner and met the rest of our group which includes 2 Engineers, one Winemaker (Environmental Engineer in another life), one Writer, a Finance Expert (our own Bryan Batson) and 3 Development/Fundraising Professionals (including myself). Tomorrow we'll have a briefing with our local partner, Water for People-Rwanda, and visit some of our water projects in the Kicukiro district. Stay tuned…exciting things are in store!