The three hour-long trek to the small rural town of Bushoga in Northern Rwanda took us away from modern civilization and toward a village populated with houses made of clay.
Without any electricity for simple cooking or air conditioning, or bathrooms, I witnessed the discomfort that our hosts must bear every day. For them, it is life; yet, I was inspired that our classmate Markey Culver spent over two years in such living conditions and was able to grow accustomed to their ways.
Despite the fact that our living conditions are so very different, my group and I quickly felt at home in Bushoga. The kind-hearted nature of Markey’s friends made it seem as if we had walked down the street to a neighbor’s house. Yes, the language barrier existed, but we laughed when they made jokes in English and they eagerly exchanged business ideas with us.
I quickly became aware of the universal power of sharing a meal, without borders or stereotypes. Markey’s friends created African dishes that would satisfy our appetites without leaving our stomachs uneasy (yes, it is easy for your stomach to feel upset!). The mashed plantains, frites, beans, eggplant, and maize satiated our cravings and gave us the energy to continue our adventure touring their village.
To enjoy a meal while eating on the cement floor of the small 250 square foot house surely was a contrast from what we are familiar with in America. This was their only living space other than their two bedrooms, and only six of us could fit in the room at one time.
Our hosts prepared the meal in their backyard over a couple small pots above open fires. Nonetheless, our hosts were so gracious to welcome us and Markey reminded us that it was an honor for them to serve us a meal. Yes, on the surface life in this small rural town differs quite drastically from life in America. But it is quite simple to identify connections with their people and we were honored to have shared this day with them.
Heather traveled to Africa with the CEL Practicum team consulting with The Women’s Bakery. The team’s client is a fellow-MBA student, Markey Culver, a former Peace Corps volunteer who created a blended for-profit and non-profit business, The Women’s Bakery, to teach women in rural Rwanda how to bake and create a self-sustaining business model to improve nutrition and income for their families.