Board Member Highlight: Scott Burge
Flying into Rwanda at night, I saw the Land of a Thousand Hills saturated with specks of light across the city and the countryside. I would only be here a short time, but I wanted to see as much as I could.
The next morning, I decided to walk the neighborhood. It is beautiful to look out across the valley of the capital city, Kigali, and see the natural landscape amongst the construction. Looking closer, though, the duality is even more pronounced as I noticed the high-rises and government buildings on the tops of the hills and yet the more dilapidated housing down below. Rwanda is definitely in growth mode, and there is an enormous pride held by its citizens as they tell me about the progress just in the past few years. The problem with growth is that it is often accompanied by growing pains. Rwanda is approaching its 30th Anniversary of the Genocide of the Tutsis, and the generational poverty is still apparent - perhaps painfully so - despite the growth.
As I visited the main offices for Belay Global, though, I saw something different. The staff and the artisans act differently. Yes, they laughed at my efforts to make the earrings and yes, I believe I deserved it; But they have a joy and a peace about them, and they have formed a beautiful community. It’s a dim light in the darkness, and I think God’s redemption of the Rwandan story is only just beginning.
One thing I love about Belay Global is that we get to be a part of the healing God is bringing in our artisan’s lives and in the lives of their communities. The people of Rwanda have been through a lot, and no amount of window dressing can cover that up. But Belay Global seeks to meet women in the darkness. By providing trauma counseling as well as nutritional and medical resources, it begins to help overcome the emotional and physical barriers to healing. Then, economic stability is provided as we continually create work that the artisans are eager to pursue. When I first met the artisans in person, they were having a Bible study on the Book of Romans. How appropriate as we prepare for growth mode of our own with a new cohort of women joining our mission this year.
Upon leaving Rwanda, once again at night, all I could do was thank God for allowing us to be a part of their story both in the good times and the bad. God and these artisans are the heroes in this story… I just wonder what will happen next.