Student Leadership Initiative, Africa

Seven members of SMU’s recently formed Student Leadership Initiative (SLI) are in Rwanda, Uganda and Johannesburg during May 2012. The students are researching human rights issues and empowerment solutions for three African countries recovering from decades of genocide, war, famine, disease and apartheid. Pat Davis, associate director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, is accompanying them on the program.

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Urukundo

An update from Hayley, a junior majoring in anthropology and French. She is also blogging here.

Today we got back from our two-day trip to Urukundo, a home for children near Butare in southern Rwanda. It was such an awesome opportunity!

Yesterday we went to the genocide memorial at Murambi, which was a technical school where 50,000 people died in 1994. This was the most difficult memorial we have been to as there were 24 classrooms in six buildings containing lime-preserved bodies. The stench was awful, and the sight very gruesome, especially seeing the bodies that were clearly children. Just horrific.

After that rough start we headed to Urukundo orphanage where we met Mama Arlene, who, at age 85, cares for 40 abandoned 3 to 7 year olds. Truly amazing!

We were greeted by a bunch of joyous little kids who we played with all day! My favorite was 4-year-old Kenny who attached himself to my hip and was the most adorable thing ever!!!

In addition to playing with the kids we did some manual labor. Allison, Amanda and I took down a brick wall and spent the rest of the day covered in dirt, which was funny. Although the home severely lacked proper facilities, it was clear these kids were provided with love and a good home, which was awesome to see! Ill miss them so much!

Today we also went to FIDESCO, one of Allisons NGO contacts that provides a five-month home for street kids and introduces them to dance. We attended a dance class and all the kids were so cute! Katie and Ketetha joined in on across the floor exercises, also really funny.

Ate a yummy dinner at an Italian place called Sola Luna and going to bed soon so I can get up at 5:30 to start the 10-hour drive to Kampala Uganda…I am excited but will miss Rwanda so much!

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