Unlike writer Charles Cantalupo, I have yet to see “wonder” in Africa…Stevie Wonder that is. All jokes aside, the image of Stevie Wonder checking into a Senegalese Hotel whilst wearing “a one piece suit of alternating ankhs in red and gold entwined by grapes and monkeys,” puts quite the image in one’s head. More importantly it raises the topic of wealth, which in Rwanda is a topic I have found to be hard to escape.
Because of my white skin, my muzungu (white person) label has caused me to be considered “wealthy” by association. This can be seen in the daily ritual of being asked by children for money, water, pens, and other gifts often given away from other muzungus who come here.
But what is wealth and how do we measure it? According to the oxford English dictionary wealth is defined as being “The condition of being happy and prosperous.”
For some, this means collecting material goods and for others it means having strong relationships with friends and family. Wealth can even be determined by how many cows or goats one has.
So far during our time in Rwanda, we have met many people and forged new friendships. In this regard I would argue that we have been blessed with wealth. From teaching English at both Covaga and the Health Center, from eating at Lakeside Restaurant every day, and from our general presence in Gashora, all of us in the group have gained a new understanding of what it means to be happy and to prosper, thus fitting the definition of being “wealthy” just not in the traditional western materialistic understanding.