A chronological log of the homicides recorded in 2013, with statistics broken down by island. The Source…
On Thursday, April 25, the St. Thomas community was enjoying J'Ouvert when the celebration was shattered by gunshots which injured three people. Public safety officials immediately canceled the remainder of J'Ouvert.
The Forum presents the third in its series of foreign films. It is a Chilean movie called "No."READ ENTIRE ARTICLE
The 10th annual Beach to Beach Power Swim is set for Sunday on St. John and, with the entries capped at 300, time is running out to register. Last year, 283 swimmers raised $20,000.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE
According to police, Vasheo Donastorg was washing his car outside his home on Lime Street when shots rang out Monday evening, killing the 18-year-old. Police are urging anyone with information to call.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE
But Disney World is a place of fantasy and those characters sweating under their costumes are paid (very little) to make you feel welcome and comfortable in their clean, safe microcosm.
However, Rwanda, a tiny country in the heart of Africa where I have been privileged to spend many happy, enlightening days in the last four years, is a very real world where 17 years ago 1 million people died in one of the most outrageous tragedies of my lifetime.
Today, Rwanda is rapidly becoming the example for the rest of the continent, if not the entire world, of progressive social and economic policy and growth.
There is not a spot of litter to be found anywhere in the country and the people are warm, welcoming and anxious to engage in meaningful dialogue about their stunning recovery- a recovery effected by everyone pulling in the same direction.
At Kigali’s Genocide Memorial, a gut wrenching commemoration to those who died in three months in 1994 and where to date the remains of about 250,000 people rest , these words are etched on the wall at the end of the first section of the memorial’s journey through the country’s horrific history of ethnic hatred – “And Rwanda was dead.”
I have seen those words three times in visits to the memorial and still they bring me to my emotional knees.
But outside, with a view of Kigali’s rolling hills peppered with new homes, skyscrapers, trees, gardens and thriving commerce, it becomes abundantly clear the country has risen from the bloody grave where it lay in 1994 to a place of stunning hope and determined peacefulness.
Amahorro is the Rwandan’s caio! It means peace.
On the third Saturday of November, we were off to see the famed mountain gorillas, when my Rwandan friend Freddy Budaramani mentioned it was Public Works Day. Though he was away from his village where his neighbors would be planting trees on that day, he texted his village leader to let him know he would work on something in Musanze, the district that is entre to the Virunga National Park where the Rwandan gorillas live.
On Public Works Day which takes place on Saturdays, the roads are closed to casual traffic as villagers and community members pick up trash, plant trees and make other physical improvements to their neighborhoods.
A few days after my return, directly from Rwanda, to St. Thomas I turned into Frenchtown to where I was joining a friend for lunch. The layer of trash, plastic cups, paper, styrofoam containers, plastic bags (which by the way are not allowed in Rwanda) casually dancing in the wind or lying crushed and crumpled nearly everywhere in that little village, was even more starkly distressing than my re-entry from Disney World so many years ago.
What is happening in Rwanda, though not completely spontaneous, is today driven by its people’s pride of place. People who take pride in their country. People who gave up successful lives in other parts of the world to come back to Rwanda and serve; people who are grateful today to have a place to call home.
Out of dust and blood, Rwandans have created a country they can be proud of – emphasis on “they”
If we want to be proud of our place in paradise, it is our job to create a place to be proud of.
We have to stop waiting for some magical “they” to come and fix it all. It is up to “we” to pick up that piece of trash and plant a tree or a garden. It is up to us to decide what we want our home to look like, and make that happen. Despite repeated “clean ups,” we have still not managed to create a culture where people don’t throw their own trash on the ground for someone else to pick up, or worse not pick up before it blows into the ocean.
It is up to us to shun the prejudiced, rageful, disrespectful, deliberately divisive and hateful among us. Shun them by not listening to their radio rants, shun them by not voting for them, shun them by not giving them any room in our conversations.
There is so much more we have to learn from this tiny country 7,000 miles from here. And more to come on this blog.
Sadly, however, there are too many among us who think we have nothing to learn. And that could be our death knell.
While the rest of the world, including our very own U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice –who I was invited to hear speak at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in November – reverberates Rwanda’s stunning progress, the world can today be treated on YouTube to the disgusting display of vile, verbal abuse delivered by our own former Sen. Pickard-Samuel to Virgin Islanders carrying on a peaceful protest at the V.I. Legislature.
This is our shame. This is ours to change.