travel [HANDS in RWANDA]

I spent my time in Rwanda at markets, with artists and with farmers, and in the Heaven kitchen, side by side with people as they worked. I've always loved photos of hands doing (holding, caring, working, playing), and my project with Heaven gave me a great reason to focus on this strong, active part of the body.

Below, market merchants, a painter, a community organizer, a soap-making wife of a genocide perpetrator, weavers, a wood-worker, Heaven's wide-smiled security guard and auditor, and a handful of children gathering water for their families.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
— Thich Nhat Hanh


I'm missing Kigali, big time. Yesterday, Alissa & I had a long meeting over skype, going over some final notes as we get ready to launch the site. I can't wait to share the project with you guys, and give you a taste of what Heaven is.


Mwiriwe neza.

I woke up late this morning and trekked up the hill to the famous Hotel des Mille Collines. Minutes from Heaven, Mille Collines is a beautiful, upscale hotel with a large pool and a poolside cafe. During the genocide, 1,268 people took refuge inside the hotel - the film Hotel Rwanda tells the story.

I met a friend's little sister and her university group for lunch - most of them are biomedical engineers about to head out to smaller cities and villages to repair equipment throughout Rwanda. I've been so impressed and inspired by the people I've met here who are sharing their education and specific skill-set with communities that will really benefit from their work.

I stayed up late last night googling houses of worship in Kigali (I have a fascination with how religion influences identity and am excited to visit a few churches here). I also realized that if I am going to seek out churches to experience and explore, it might be important to also find a group of people who connect with god and themselves in the way that I do. I found only one Kigali meditation group, the next meeting scheduled for today at 5pm.

The get-together was held in Nyratorama, a quiet, neatly arranged neighborhood at the top of one of Kigali's many, many hills. I arrived way early, so I took some time to roam around.

I still had an hour to kill when I came across a group of guys warming up for a pick-up game of soccer. I sat on the side with a kid named Élan and we entertained ourselves by offering commentary and being equal-opportunity cheerleaders.

The meditation meeting was small but meaningful. My practice has actually been pretty steady since arriving in Rwanda, but it is so nice to find a couple people here who are interested in sharing their own experiences and growing in our practices together.

I shared a taxi with the kid who organized the meeting - of course he also knows Grace so he invited me along to a party at her old house. They were celebrating La Noche de San Juan, a celebration of the summer solstice which invites people to write a list of what they'd like to leave behind from the past year. Then you toss the note in a bonfire and jump over the flames.

It was a good day.