“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito. ’ -African proverb
I moved to Rwanda for my sanity, I wanted peace , joy and the ability to breathe again that can only be temporary in the United States. The chaos had become so maddening and unbearable, I literally could not breathe. My later years had to be my best years and they were not going to be in America.
Upon my arrival on the 9th of January, 2021 I found my “Forever Home.” I wake up every morning into the heavens, the birds are my alarm clock, the powers, the cleanliness, I eat fresh food, real food daily, and the crowning jewel of Rwanda – its people. I’ve never met such welcoming and accommodating people.
Sylvia McCarter, born and raised New Yorker
My first time visiting Rwanda was a couple years ago while doing volunteer work throughout East Africa. I remember relaxing at a rooftop cafe and God told me it was here. This was all the midst of my Dad battling with his health. So my focus was solely on his wellbeing and returning back to New York. Shortly after, My dad passed away so I began re-evaluating my life and purpose. But God kept giving me confirmation to come back to Africa. I was doing much soul searching and tuning to what God was telling me to do. Once the Pandemic hit I felt discouraged. But the pressing on my heart was to start packing my bags. So I did, and was led to Rwanda by faith. I’d also have a strong passion for sustainable living and agriculture and farming. Being here has been inspiring and eye opening to many opportunities, and to make an impact. I feel as an African woman it was time to come back to the Motherland. I chose Rwanda and Rwanda chose me…
Since 2017, I knew I wanted to leave the United States but had no idea where I wanted to go. In 2020, I finally decided I wanted to go somewhere in Africa. I watched hundreds of YouTube videos and read about the same amount of articles about different African countries and I finally settled on Rwanda.
I chose Rwanda because the landscape reminded me of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica (that’s where my family is from), it is very safe here and President Kagame is an amazing leader. Once I made my decision, business ventures started coming my way, it was almost like I was destined to be here. As a single mother, that never visited the country, it was a leap of faith that I do not regret taking.
My name is Pamela, originally from H-Town, Houston, Texas. I have been an international traveler for the past 20 years, and have visited 17 different countries, five of which were African. So, I had quite a bit to compare with. That made it a lot easier when I saw Rwanda in my research for an African country in which to live. It also made it easy for me to realize that My Cousin Connection was a very good and very needed platform. My background is paralegal and court reporting. I write poetry, sew, bake but Interior Decorating is my best gift and talent, and what inspires me the most.
I have very much enjoyed living in Rwanda, and feel just as comfortable as I did in the U.S. but with a lot less fear of the racist environment that I as a Black person had to contend with on a daily basis. It is so prevalent over there, today. That feeling was the main reason I decided to search for another place to live. That is when I discovered Rwanda.
I originally moved to Rwanda with US Peace Corps in September 2019 as an Education Volunteer conducting capacity building in local schools in the Western Province.
I was born in Belize, a small country in the Caribbean and had an opportunity to move to the US- this background allowed me to understand both sides of the development coin and I had always hoped to pursue development as a career so as to one day return to my home country to contribute to change making efforts. In college I had learned so much about the “Singapore of Africa” and had to see it for myself. I understood how committed the country was to progress, pushing to the forefront, innovative solutions to tackle issues faced by many, if not most countries, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
When I received the opportunity with Peace Corps, I thought that living in Rwanda, in addition to pursuing my interest in education and child development as a Volunteer, could give me further insight on development trajectories and sustainable change. This is not to say that I saw Rwanda merely as an experiment or study, as many westerners have been chastised for in Africa, because I also saw that there was a real need for improvement to primary and secondary education in the country and I desired to contribute, knowing the enthusiasm for change from Rwandans. That passion is something that I missed in Belize and the US and it was quite refreshing. I was slated to serve a two year term but was promptly evacuated in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Having returned to the US, I felt robbed of my time in Rwanda and overwhelming thoughts of abandoning service and my assigned communities remained with me for months. After all, the short time I had spent in Rwanda still allowed me to feel a strong connection with the culture and people. Learning all that I did about the country during pre-service training and then living at the local level gave me a taste of how life was for everyday Rwandans. Being back in Florida, I often thought about Rwanda, dreamt about the country and could not shake feeling misplaced in the US. In only six months, I had already began to feel comfortable in Rwanda, the same way I feel when I return to Belize. Upon realizing this, I knew I had to find my way back,…. somehow.
In August 2020, after months of job hunting and tireless interview rounds, I finally landed a remote job, saw an opportunity to move back to Rwanda and took it. I knew I had so much more to learn and to experience, to love and to enjoy. On the one hand, I entered Rwanda committed to service but I also found happiness in the country, something that after months of being on lockdown due to COVID-19, I learned I was entitled to. I never felt quite as home in the US and was unsure about when if ever, I’d return to Belize. Something about Rwanda felt right. I moved back to Rwanda because I found happiness in the pristine streets, the warmth from being surrounded by other Black folks (which is such an underrated feeling), the burning passion for improvement from government and society alike, the bargain culture, the love-thy-neighbor culture, the winding, seemingly endless roads with surprises at every bend. I moved back for a peace of mind and a way forward during one of the roughest years of my life.