Running off to the developing world to make a difference and contribute to humanity used to be the realm of young college graduates. Now, more and more professionals, solo or with family in tow, are finding themselves drawn to areas of the world where they can see the direct impact of their work improving the lot of those who cannot improve the quality of life on their own.
This week, USA Today ran an article about Americans finding purpose in Africa, specifically Rwanda. For me, that country conjures up images of the gentle mountain gorillas juxtaposed to the images from CNN and MSNBC of the brutal genocide that the country endured. Today, there are ex-pats living and working Rwanda who think that the country is poised to be the next Singapore. After years of unrest and violence beyond measure, the country is fighting its way back to peace and prosperity. And Americans looking for purpose are flocking to lend their expertise, time, and energy. And while Rwandans are reaping the benefits of lower infant mortality, higher education rates, and greater economic opportunities, Americans are gaining a sense of self and purpose, empathy, acceptance, and faith in the goodness that we can create for one another.
As someone who’s always thought that my time for the Peace Corp had passed me by, this article left me encouraged by all of the future opportunities that exist for me to lend a hand, my heart, and my spirit.