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Getting Schooled

Jen and I are here in Arusha, Tanzania on our second Picture Hope assignment this week. We've so enjoyed sharing time with Mama Lucy, founder of Shepherds Jr. School; kind teachers; and more than 350 children ages 3-12 thanks to our friends at non-profit Epic Change. As in Rwanda, I'm finding that relationships hold great value.  It seems that connections between people are stronger here in Africa, or perhaps these connections are just more visible when you strip away unnecessary physical possessions – when you cut away the clutter and focus on the person seated before you or beside you.

Africa is flattening me. She's taking me back to the basics. Asking me in a gentle and honest whisper to question long-standing assumptions about my life. She makes me cry. She brings me great joy. She makes me want to rebuild a better me. I'm eager to let the images speak to you over the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.


Sights & Sounds of Home in Kizarakome

Picture Hope: Sights & Sounds of Home in Kizarakome from LittlePurpleCow Productions on Vimeo.

It took nearly three hours on a bumpy bus ride from Kigali to reach the quiet village of Kizarakome in Rwanda. I captured this first impression sequence of Mupenzi and his sister cooking in the kitchen shortly after we arrived to the Mahigigi homestead. If you listen closely, you can hear the soft voices of sweet young girls at my side.


This is what happens when you open yourself up to love. When you give it and let yourself receive it. It's a vision I saw again and again as we moved through Rwanda. There's something about the way Jen connects with people, particularly her extended family in Rwanda, that's difficult to put in words. I admire it, and I'm so thankful that I was the one to capture it.


Why I Hold Back

There was something about William. The way he leaned in when he spoke. The expressiveness of his hands and the kindness in his eyes. I liked him in an instant and was so moved by his story. William has 19 brothers and sisters and lived as a refugee in Uganda before returning to his family's homeland in Rwanda after the genocide. We talked for a long time on the sofa that day. Just the two of us. We talked about his love for his three daughters and his wife. The importance of education and the sacrifices he makes to offer this gift to his family. We talked about gratitude.

"Bite... (hi, how are you?) William!" I said nearly shouting into my headset on Skype the other day. "It's Stephania!"

It was the first time I sat down to call a few of my friends in Rwanda since my visit weeks ago. It's not that I haven't wanted to call, but in a strange way... I've felt a need to hold back. To hold myself in a space apart from their love to a degree. To keep myself from truly missing them.

"Stephania! Nibijiza (good)... How are you? I miss you!"

It melted me... this little conversation that lasted less than ten minutes... comprised of basic English phrases mixed with a handful of Kinyarwanda words that ended in "turikumwe" (we are together). Such sweetness. Pure love. And as I ended the call I couldn't help but wonder why I hold back.


What's True

Jen summed it up so well... "These two have got it going on." Big love. We spent an evening with Betty, Frank and their three daughters a few days after we first arrived to Konombe in Rwanda. I love how he slung his arm around her shoulder and let his hand hang over her breast, how he pulled her in tightly and smashed his lips on her cheek as she gazed toward the sky and laughed out loud. Unguarded. True. Love.

Jen and I are collaborating on their story – one of the first mixed media pieces to emerge soon. So looking forward to sharing these with you.

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