One of the greatest moments I had while serving in the military, was when I would get deployed to different places. Living in Alaska, training in Texas and Las Vegas were great experiences, but being overseas before war time was even a more memorable moment when I took a tour of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. One thing about me is that I love to travel and see the world and the different people that inhabit it. Seeing new places, meeting people and seeing how they live differently, is always a great experience to me. I will soon be on a new experience, an experience I feel will be the experience of a life time, because not only do I see a new place, but it’s a place I thought I would never get the opportunity to see. That place is AFRICA.
In July, I will be taking a trip with my fellow classmates who are in the counseling program with me at Long Island University. We will make our way to Africa and journey through Tanzania and Rwanda, where we will experience how the people live, see the wild life, but most importantly, we will meet and work with survivors of genocide at a local hospital and even visit an orphanage. Never in a million years would I think I would be talking about actually taking a trip to Africa, though it’s always been a place I wanted to go and it soon will be a reality.
In my college program I’m studying to be a School Guidance Counselor, but a big part of this program is learning how to work with others in a counseling type of setting. Our program gives us the ability to learn the mental health side of counseling as well as the school counseling side, which I will be using in a school someday to work with students. Though I feel pretty well prepared to help someone out using the counseling steps I have been taught, I’m not really sure what to expect when I will be face to face with a survivor of genocide that has been through so much tragedy.
Genocide is something that is unheard of in the states, and it is one of the most atrocious acts humans can do on one another. Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or a cultural group. Rwanda is known for its instability in the past and the year 1994 is well known as one of the worst acts of genocide to have ever taken place in Africa. Mass killings left well over 500,000 Rwandan people dead, men, women and children.
Although my whole trip to Africa will not be just be about genocide, I know this will be the most emotional moment of my trip. My trip to Africa will also lead me to places such as Tanzania, where my classmates and I will be site seeing and learning about the Tanzanian culture. We will also be given an opportunity to enjoy a safari trip, where we will find ourselves in Tanzania watching the great migration take place.
I’m now working on completing what must be done to prepare for my trip to Africa, and I also began to look online to find what I can learn about the places I’m traveling to. Without ever realizing it, our military forces actually are serving overseas in Africa, working on numerous missions. The U.S. military presence falls under the title “Africa Command” and has been created to not only help American forces with tracking down terrorists, but also to help African forces maintain security, stability and peace throughout the country.
This shout out goes out to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are serving overseas in Africa.
My journey will begin soon in a couple of months, and currently my classmates and I are beginning to reach out to anyone for any cash donations that we will be giving to help sponsor a mental health clinic to be established in the capital city Kigali. If you’re interested in donating you can click on the link below, any amount will be gratefully appreciated from the people of Kigali.
For the first time I have applied for my passport, and I realized what a way to begin my travels around the world by making my 1st journey, AFRICA.
Learn about the Rwanda Genocide
http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide_in_rwanda.htm – Human Rights Council
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/ – Frontline / PBS
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1288230.stm – BBC News article
http://www.kigalimemorialcentre.org/old/index.html – Kigali Memorial Centre
U.S. Africa Command
http://www.usaraf.army.mil/ – Check out the documentary about the mission
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyafrica/sets/72157622637541002/ – website provided by Africa Command Facebook