One of the greatest joys of working for TVM is how often I get to share our story with new people…to tell them about the magnitude of our project. I love watching their eyes grow wide when they hear just how many lives are being changed in Rwanda.
And, often, people will shake their heads and say, “It’s so hard to wrap my head around the poverty issue in Africa. I mean, it’s so BIG. Where do you even start? How do you begin to make a difference?”
And I get it. Figuring out to help…how to impact those in need in a way that is meaningful, transformational and (perhaps most importantly) respectful is no small task.
I love that TVM follows the “Teach a Man to Fish” philosophy. You can offer fish to the hungry all day long…and that fish will be accepted with gratitude. But when you do that without teaching those in need the skills necessary to catch fish on their own…when you withhold the opportunity for self-sufficiency and independence…you end up creating a cycle of dependency and, often, bitterness toward the giver.
I love that TVM has moved away from calling trips to Rwanda “mission trips”. There is a connotation, when one goes on such a trip, that there will be a specific task to accomplish – a building to construct, land to clear, goods to hand out. The problem with that type of “mission” is that it is often accomplished at the expense of the local people. The building you erected could have been completed by locals while teaching them skills they could use for future work in the process. When you do the work others could do for themselves, you are likely to breed seeds of resentment.
So…what is the answer?
TVM still takes teams to Rwanda, but we now call them vision trips. The purpose of these trips is to immerse people in the beauty and culture of Rwanda, to educate them on the lasting effects of the Genocide against the Tutsi, to inspire them to be advocates for change….and to help them as they seek to find out where God can use them to help God’s people.
The key to alleviating poverty is not a quick trip. It is not giving things to people who are without.
You alleviate poverty by sticking around.
By planting roots.
By employing and empowering the local community.
We have been in Northern Rwanda for twelve years now. We are now the largest employer of women in the Musanze district. Every person we employ there – from our in country director, to our quality control supervisor, to our trauma counselors – is Rwandan. We continue to work toward our goal of breaking the poverty cycle…
…and I invite you join us.
You can support us through financial donations by clicking here.
If you are interested in joining us on a vision trip, you can find more information here.
And you can always share our story. Tell people what has happened in Rwanda and the transformation that is taking place there now.
Shout it from rooftops.
Let everyone know that God is moving in Rwanda…
Bringing hope to the hopeless and transforming God’s beloved from the inside out.