By Patricia Shafer
One of the wonders and challenges of service work is that you can’t guarantee where super results will happen. But if you do your best to be strategic and the right people get connected, magic can happen.
If Mentoring Mwiko volunteer catalyst Jerri Hatch had never gone to Rwanda for gorilla-trekking, what would have happened? If, in her trip planning she hadn’t noted that there was an impoverished school near her lodge and visited, what would have been missed? If, after bringing a duffel bag of pencils, crayons and paper, and seeing how inadequate these were for a school of 750 children she hadn’t declared “I’ll be back,” what window would have closed? If she hadn’t reached out to Mothering Across Continents and said, “I want to make a difference, but it seems overwhelming,” what itch would have remained unscratched? What if, when we recruited Canadian Frances Klinck as a guest teacher and trainer, she had responded, “Too busy.”? And what if, when we met with JD Lewis and asked if he’d make a special detour visit on his Twelve in Twelve trip, he said, “Nope. Trip is set.” What potential connections would have been left unmade?
Instead he said, “Can you just assure me that my boys and I will have a place to sleep and someone can pick us up at the airport?” And off he went. It could have been enough to just have Mwiko and its community seen by JD and his sons . . . But JD’s surprising follow through went above and beyond. It also put a critical chink in a harmful habit that sometimes occurs in challenged communities. Strangers come and go – for travel or humanitarian reasons. In contrast, the chain at Mwiko has been getting longer.
Yeah to Jerri for being an original voice. Virtual hugs to Frances, Daniel and friends like Tom Allen at Bridge2Rwanda. Thanks to our donors and partners like Oli Dreike and the Dreike Scholarship Fund as, together, we support 18 Mwiko secondary school scholars this year. Super kudos to JD Lewis and his sons for their unique passion, compassion and follow through from a year spent learning about the world.