U.S. Ambassador DeLisi is hopeful as he and his wife celebrated a group of young Ugandan fellows at their residence who will spend the summer in the United States growing their global networks to build film schools, launch small businesses and pursue careers in human rights. The Honorable Minister Nsereko is hopeful about the public health partnerships we are forming together as she invited us to a ceremony in a rural province where they distributed some of the $400 thousand worth of medical supplies that we shipped over in partnership with Project Cure. And there is even hope for me that I will learn from my mistakes as my iPhone was stolen out of my hands once again as I sat in a cab with my window down in a Kampala traffic jam at night on the way to the airport. There is hope that next time I will roll up my window like the taxi driver suggested! Later that evening, I was reminded over a Skype back home that despite the “tragic” loss of my iPhone someone will at least eat better this week from its sale on the black market; a potent reminder that my very worst day is many people’s best.
The hope at the reception that the First Lady of Rwanda hosted for the Women’s Leadership summit as we arrived in Kigali was palpable. A parliamentarian, a deputy chief of staff, a minister of youth services, the head of a foundation, all gathered to greet us; all women. These are powerful women making positive change in a country with one of the largest percentages of women in parliament in the world. There is hope that my own country can humble itself to learn from Rwanda where in 2014 there should be more than one woman running for President. Jus’ sayin’!
The 300 children from the local villages that we hosted at Entusi on the second day of our summit for a basic health clinic arrived with hope that someone would pay attention to them. And we delivered. Everyone left with something. More importantly, every child who made their way through the clinic felt important and felt welcome. They had a seat at the table. For many, this was the first time they had been ever invited anywhere.
And so, our Second Annual Women’s Leadership Summit concluded yesterday and as 20 extraordinary women began making their way back to their families and their work in Kampala and Kigali and Colombia and Nigeria and the United States, Africa had changed each of us. It always does, right?
Despite the enormity of the challenges that confront us from girls in captivity to the unforgiving conditions of poverty; despite the very different backgrounds and life experiences of each of the women who came together over this past week; everyone left with something in common. They all left with hope.
On Lake Bunyonyi at the Entusi Retreat Center on June 11th, there was a sense of hope that was so pervasive and so thick that you could almost touch it.