It has been a long time since I have posted, everything has been so crazy. But I just had to make the time today to sit down and write about this past week of my life. A few months ago I agreed to host a woman from Rwanda for a week in my home and work life. The request came through the International Economic Empowerment of Women organization - the Peace Through Business program (http://www.ieew.org/programs check it out people) via the National Association of Women Business Owners. I struggled with the decision as it is a big deal (in my world anyhow) to take a week “off” of normal life to bring value to a mentor relationship. But finally I figured that since I would be in the country and actually in Houston during the required time, I would go ahead and give it a shot.
If I attempted to write everything that has happened this past week - funny, poignant, intense, familial, emotional, intellectual and well – everything – it would take me until tomorrow and your eyes would be rolling into the back of your head. I will say that I am a different person today than I was last Saturday while standing in Bush Airport waiting for Josephine (Phina) to arrive. I am sitting at work and I am overflowing with emotion – gratitude, sadness, happyness, concern – my mind is full of ideas about how we can band together and cure all the ills of the world (anyone who has spent an evening over a bottle of wine with me knows I have LOTS of ideas on this issue).
I realize that alot of folks think I am a bit idealistic and maybe even naive – and you know what – you are right. Before this week I was a bit ashamed of this part of me, but actually, I have come to embrace this peculiarity of my personality over the past days. I mean – without optimism and hope and wishes and dreams – what’s left?
But hey – enough about me. I want to talk about Josephine. She is one of the kindest, nicest, beautiful, smart, strong, sharp and sincere women I have ever met. She is from Rwanda, although her family fled to Uganda during the time of genocide. She taught me so many things this week about life and myself and our place in this world. It was surreal, we could discuss the fact that 1,000,000 people (mainly Tutsis) were murdered in Rwanda during 100 days starting April 1994, and next topic was the various merits of the contestants on Master Chef. Crazy. But the point is that she was so open and shared her life with me. We visited my charity and had a heartbreaking meeting with a women who was there with her daughters through no fault of her own. But there is a hopeful ending to her story. I do not want to give any other details – but everyone – please pray for “E” and her girls.
And she is patient. I had a little gathering and she so graciously answered the 10,000 questions everyone asked her about life in Rwanda. She gave a talk to my staff and did not even get offended when one of my guys asked her how many cows her husband had to pay her family for her hand in marriage (8 is the answer).
From my side, although they called me the mentor, I really think that we mentored each other.
So Josephine, THANK YOU for one of the best weeks of my life. I know that you are going to continue to have a successful career and personal life. You will always have a friend here in Houston (or wherever I am). I look forward to working with your company as partners. And I am absolutely convinced that you will knock their socks off in Washington DC over the next days. You are the perfect person to present to all of these important people.
And please – say hello to the Rwandan Ambassador from me. I do not know him yet but maybe some day. And please give Forrest Whittaker a hug from me. I don’t know him either but hey – getting a hug from him can’t be all bad right?
Peace out friends!