By Donna Edwards Weber — and Bryan Weber too!
2017 Learning Trip Participants

At first, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the ongoing mission of the Togetherness Cooperative. The horrific Rwandan Genocide happened in 1994 — 23 years ago. The people affected are now adults. Why do they need a Cooperative, and why should we lend our support?

Glenda, Grace, Kelly, Rikki, and Donna visiting with neighbors fetching clean water from the Togetherness well.

I finally began to understand when I came to the realization that my own kids are almost that same age. My kids have had ongoing support throughout their lives to provide love and support, as well as opportunities for growth and enrichment. My kids have a community and family to come home to, and a safety net as they launch themselves more fully into the wider world.

A family and a community — that’s what my kids have, what all kids need, and what Togetherness provides.

Togetherness soccer team

These young Rwandan people who were the victims of unimaginable tragedy in their tenderest years have a family, a community of support, a place to call home. This community that they have formed together has supported their emotional growth and their education, and now provides a safety net as they launch their education and businesses to support themselves in the wider world. They come together for community, to be brothers and sisters to each other, to form businesses together, to celebrate through music and dance.

Togetherness girls’ dance troupe members

We travelers had the privilege to visit this extraordinary community as part of our African Road learning trip. We had deep conversations with Steven about his history and the founding of Togetherness. We visited the many businesses formed by Steven, Providance, and the young people to support their livelihood — the farms, livestock, well, and football pitch. We immersed ourselves among little children on the floor of the preschool classroom. We kneaded bread shoulder-to-shoulder with the young women of Togetherness Bakery. We provided an audience of loving “aunties, uncles, and grandmas” for the young people’s joyful music and dance production.

Donna kneading bread with the women of the Togetherness Bakery

Through African Road, we have the opportunity to partner as extended family with Togetherness, and to share in the story as these young people continue to grow as leaders in their broader community.

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