Four months to go- A huge Update

Dear Family, Colleagues, Church Family and friends

A not so brief update about my life- Feel free to skip through the headings to the parts you are most interested in.

Lord Willing, in less than 4 months time I hope to be living in Kigali, Rwanda working for an amazing organization called Best Family Rwanda. I have committed to them for two years with the intention of staying long term. This is all based on how long I can financially sustain myself in Rwanda, and also is based on whether I can get a visa to stay as long as I want to. I am leaving NZ on May 15th, 2018 on a One Way Ticket.

Background to my decision/story about how I came to Rwanda:
Since I was really young I have really felt a desire in my heart to one day "help the poor children in Africa." This sounds a bit condescending and disempowering now but I guess this is how the mind of a child works. My mum told me a story of when I was really young and I saw a picture of a young child that had been burnt - somewhere in a third world country- and it had really upset me and I had talked about it for a while.
I don't think desires like this come naturally to most people, and I don't think most people grow up to think that their dream job is to be an aid worker somewhere in Africa . I truly believe that it is God that placed the desire on my heart and actually created me to be the kind of person that would actually thrive in a country like Rwanda.

Through College I fundraised money for world vision, organized fundraisers, started sponsoring a child, volunteered at Trade Aid and read books about aid workers.

My biggest encouragers were my childhood best friend Holly who was equally (probably more) passionate about social justice and helping the poor, and my parents who taught us always to think about others who did not have much and to be generous with your money and time.

When I was about to finish Year 13 I did not know what I wanted to do with my life (who really knows) so I spontaneously decided that I would volunteer in Africa somewhere. Africa is made up 54 countries and I was adamant not to go to the countries where everyone seemed to go such as Kenya and Ghana. I found a Volunteer agency based in New Zealand called Global Volunteer Network and decided to have a look at their programmes. They had programmes in a few different countries in Africa, so I chose the country that I knew nothing about- Rwanda. I decided to go for 3 months.

I can't really remember my parents response but I was so adamant and confident that everything would be fine (so they tell me) so they were reassured that I would be. 
I was 18 years old when I first stepped on that plane. I had no idea what to expect. The two people/families that I knew who had been or lived in Africa had traumatic experiences there and had shared their concerns about my safety. I was determined to prove them wrong.

Even though I was very up to date with politics and world news at the time (probably the only teenager that read the newspaper for fun) I actually did not know anything about Rwanda or the horrific genocide that occurred there in 1994.

I was a little scared about going to Rwanda and had even written a Will and left it in my drawer at home. I was more scared that I would hate my time there.. but I was going to the Netherlands straight after Rwanda for a while and I knew that I loved the Netherlands (having been there before) and that was something I could look forward to if my stay in Rwanda was torture. I therefore did not research Rwanda and tried to not think about my trip at all until I was flying from Kenya to Rwanda, that it hit me.

I got off the plane in Rwanda and I just remember a whirlwind of red dusty roads , a million Rwandan people on the streets, carrying everything from sewing machines, water and fruit on their heads. I remember the crazy motorbikes and the laughs with the person who came to pick me up who taught me my first work in kinyarwanda "Muraho" - Hello. And I remember this amazing spiritual overwhelming feeling that I had come home. It all made sense now. 
Hand on heart - in my first ten minutes outside of the airport in Rwanda- I knew that this was the place that God had called me to be and this is where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

8 years later - with two further trips (of 3 months), a million messages and phone call on wattsapp and facebook messenger with my friends in Rwanda, a degree, a student loan, no student loan, getting fully registered as a social worker, a lot of working, a lot of saving and a lot of looking at photos feeling homesick and I am finally going again- for good.

Journey to Rwanda 2018- 

I always knew that After I finished my study, I would work for 2 years, pay off my student loan, get fully registered as a Social Worker and then move to Rwanda. In my estimations I should have been there in November 2017. But Life happens, and I am glad it does because If I had gone then I would totally have missed out on meeting my gorgeous niece - born in November 2017.

I knew what kind of work I wanted to do in Rwanda and what kind of Org I wanted to volunteer for. In the 8 years I spent hours and hours scouring the internet looking for the perfect volunteer opportunity in Rwanda.
From experience I knew that the Visa process was completely stressful and scary and my best chance of getting a long term visa was if you volunteered with a recognized organization doing a legitimate volunteer role that you are actually qualified in.


 I was so sure that I could return to Ubumwe Community Center where I had previously worked and teach English as I had just gained my TEFL cert. I was gutted when the director told me that they were only allowed to have volunteers with proper teaching qualifications and experience, to teach. I then offered to be a social worker there (because they could definitely use one.) I don't think that he knew what a social worker was or does (its still a relatively new profession in Rwanda) but he kindly said that I could do it for a few months on a trial basis.

This didn't feel secure enough for me and I didn't really get the impression that I was really needed by this organization. I was so gutted because I absolutely loved the organization and my time there. I will continue to support the Center in Rwanda and hopefully I will be able to partner with them in some way in the future.

Widening the Net.

I shared what was going on for me with my colleague, who happened to be from Uganda, A Christian and had worked in International Development before. She encouraged me not to give up . She said that there would be some place that would be so happy for your help and not to be so focused on working at UCC but to cast the net wider.

So I started looking for other organizations and it became like a fourth job (because I have 3 jobs) and it really stressed me out. I looked for organizations that were specifically asking for volunteers and ones which skill set matched mine. They were very limited as most organizations wanted either teaching or health care professionals. I started thinking maybe I should have studied to be a nurse or a Physiotherapist instead?

Another Opportunity?

 Then I found an organization who had a social work programme and who asked for volunteers. I sent them my C.V and a proposal about what I could do.
I became very determined that this organization was the one as they were professional, worked with street kids, and had a social work programme.
I had several skype meetings which were quite spaced out so the process from start to finish with this organization was very drawn out....


 However I started to get a few red flags ... like the leadership (non Rwandan) came across as extremely professional and cold. All Profession and No heart.
I can usually sense the first time I meet someone, a lot about them, and their heart. I did not experience any connection.

They also really asked me questions about my Christian faith (which I had talked about in my C.V.) Like what would I do if one of the street boys came to me and told me that he was gay?
That really sent a red flag for me because the fact that they were asking me this within 10 minutes of meeting me meant that they a.) had a negative experience with another Christian volunteer or b.) Had a pre conceived idea of what Christians were like and did not like it.

These red flags bothered me , but I did not act on them as for now it was my only lead.
Then they started telling me that they didn't actually want me working with the people.. but in the office .. developing forms etc , and could I do this? Well I have no doubt that I could do this - but did I want to move across the world to work in an office all day? No Way!

Closing the Door
That weekend I went to a Church conference and  felt really burdened that God wanted me to be a "light in the dark place" and to work for A Christian organization that was shining the light. In my head I thought "Light in the darkest place" and I thought of South Sudan which is another country that God has been prompting me about in the last few years.
 I shared this with a girl who was sitting next to me in the Conference. She was a stranger and she prayed for me that the right doors be opened and the wrong doors be closed. It was about 10pm when she prayed this for me. The next morning I checked my email and I had received an email at about 10:04 pm from the organization that I had been communicating with about working for them to say that they had decided that they did not need me in their social work programme as they had recently secured funding to hire two new social workers.

This was absolutely an answer from God. And I felt so relieved.

Send Me Anywhere

Then I admitted that I had become a bit obsessed with Rwanda and was really just following my own selfish desires to go there.. and maybe God wanted me to be somewhere else.. like maybe He wanted me to go to South Sudan? So I for the first time in 8 years opened up my heart and mind to go somewhere else. I had to admit that going to Rwanda had become more important than following what God wanted for my life. I then prayed to God that He would send me anywhere and open up the right doors and I would follow , where ever it was.

I shared a bit about what was going on for me on Facebook and then someone sent me a link through PM about some kiwis working in South Sudan. I looked at their organization and felt like everything matched with what I wanted, except for the lack of a social worker role. I loved the fact that they were working amongst the poorest and most needy people in the world, in a country ravaged by famine, disease and war.

Multiple Opportunities
I applied there. I also decided to apply for other organizations in Congo, South Sudan, General Africa and they all got back to me- they all wanted me. While I went on a frenzy of applying for other organizations I had a spur of the moment thought to randomly email an organization that I had heard about a few times called Best Family Rwanda, based in Kigali Rwanda.

A door opening

I was so suprised when along with the other organizations that got back to me this organization, Best Family Rwanda,  got back to me within a day and said that they were really interested in what I had to offer.
They were looking for a social worker with a Western Education, who had some knowledge of Rwanda, the culture and the language, who was a Christian, and who wanted to serve the organization long term. And that these last few weeks they had been praying for someone who met this description.
I literally ticked every single box.

I asked everyone I knew that also knew the Rwandan directors, and the American Board about the organization. I heard how Loving, Christian, Passionate, Amazing and Effective this organization was. I heard about how inspiring and kind the 3 Rwandan Directors were and how they had started this organization themselves in their teens. They themselves had been orphaned through the genocide and had a heart for other orphans.
I loved the fact that this organization was all heart but also had a bit of professionalism and definitely transparancy and humility too.

I got to connect with the Board in America and felt an instant connection. I loved the fact that they were just normal people who were equally passionate about Rwanda.

Weighing up All of the option and making a decision

 At the same time I was talking to the other organizations. I culled a few quite quickly. One wanted me to raise $40000 to live in a compound in South Sudan and leave for a month every 3 months in a Private Chartered plane to rest and recuperate. Hah! That did not sound like transcendental ministry which I am most passionate about.

In the end it was between Best Family Rwanda in Rwanda and another organization (the first one that my friend had messaged me about) in South Sudan. I tried to explain that I wanted to make my own arrangements in terms of housing and wanted to live long term in the country which I chose, and really make a life there. The South Sudan organization really did not get this. They said that we have to live in the housing that they provide. That we only come for 6 months and it is like a trial to see if we can work full time for the organization. The Rwanda organization was like we don't care where you live and what you do in your spare time and how long you are coming for and what you will be doing- we are just glad you are coming!

So it was a no-brainer for me. I choose to go with Best Family Rwanda.
It's really interesting because not long after I said no to the South Sudan organization I met a lovely young couple at my church who were applying to work for the exact same organization. This organization is literally tiny and you can barely find it on the internet so it was amazing that 3 people in Wellington all found out about this organization.
It makes me think that some where in my life South Sudan will pop up again and who knows I may even move there one day? But for now I believe that God has sorted the perfect position for me at Best Family Rwanda..

About the position:

I will be working as a social worker (the first social worker in the organization- and also the first long term "Mazungu"  volunteer) for Best Family Rwanda. I will be working as a representative for the American board (Best Family Ministries) who organizes all the Sponsors for the children in the programme. My main roles will be communicating with the Best Family Ministries Board with photos and stories about what is happening in the kids/families lives who we support, as well as conducting home visits with each child (about 300) in the programme and teaching the staff on how to best ask questions/fill out the home visit reports to communicate back to Best Family Ministries about what is happening for the kids. Furthermore I will be working intensively with 20 of the most high needs children and their family from each sector (thats 60 families) to work with them on how to best meet the children's needs.

It will be a huge job, and a huge responsibility but I am so excited for it. It will be extremely challenging, but I am sure also extremely fun and satisfying. I am not afraid of hard work! and feel that I am quite an efficient person who can juggle a million balls at once (but I still always lose my keys...)

In My life outside of Work..

Further more in my personal Every day life I will be having my friend Claire staying with me. I met her at Noel Orphanage and Supported her through Boarding School (by paying school fees). She was clever enough to get a full scholarship for University but did not have anyone to pay for her living costs (as she had to move to another city to attend University.) After a Facebook Appeal My family and friends generously donated money that will house and feed her until about April this year. In May when I move to Kigali, she will move in with me.

It is also possible that two other young people will be coming to stay with me , in their school holidays or potentially one of them even full time. But this will all be confirmed when I move there.

I want my home to be an open and welcoming home to anyone that needs a place to live. I want to provide an inclusive and nurturing environment where I can mentor and support my young friends.

Furthermore - knowing me- I will probably have some of my own projects that I will be managing (should I have time) as in the future I would like to start my own NGO.. at this point in Microfinance/job creation/entrepreneurship.

How am I going to fund this? 
Well I am not getting paid for my job at BFR and neither do I expect to get paid anything, when the money could be used to pay a Rwandan person who doesn't have a job... it also makes things more complicated for getting a Visa. I am also going to be funding my own accomodation and although I have been kindly offered accomodation by one of the directors - I would rather have my own place so that I can provide a home for others and have independence and privacy.

I have been working and saving hard this year and I hope to live off my savings for a number of years. Life is cheap in Rwanda if you don't expect a standard of living like we have in New Zealand.

I will be choosing to live in a Concrete home with 3 rooms (2 bedrooms and a "sitting room") We will be cooking on charcoal outside or in the sitting room if it is raining. There should be an outside toilet room (long drop) and I will be having bucket showers.
Living this way is cheap but also helps me to relate and be a greater impact to the community around me, with less barriers and I hope to also challenge some of the Mazungu Stereotypes (that we have created for ourselves) in Rwanda by choosing to live this way.
Eating local food, taking Public Transport, and hopefully growing my own vegetables and fruit (wouldn't it be amazing to have my own pineapples and mango growing in my back yard!!)
will keep costs down.
Anyway like on previous trips, I assume I will spend a lot of time eating with colleagues, the families that I support, and with friends in the city and probably won't be eating at home very much.

My main costs and concern will be providing for the needs associated with schooling, hygiene, clothing etc for the young people who will be living with me. If you want to talk to me about how you can support these young people - feel free to message me on Facebook or email me on

The Future

Obviously I can't live off my savings for the rest of my life and it may be that in the future I may get married (to someone with money haha) or I find a paid job in Rwanda, or else where in Africa, or I start my own buisness or I move back to New Zealand or whatever. Who knows? But I know God will provide and it will be fine.

I am so excited for this journey and for you to be on it with me. I am so exciting to be following God's plan for my life and excited to see how He will use me in Rwanda.

A Thank You
 Sorry this update was long. But I'm glad to put all the information out there so I don't have to keep repeating myself.
Thanks for all your support in the past and Now. Thanks for any donations, words of encouragements and prayers that you may have done before.
I so appreciate them and feel that I am coming to Rwanda with an army behind me.

Please do contact me if you would like any more information. I will not be emailing people newsletters but will regularly update my blog when I am in Rwanda- so do keep an eye on my blog.
Or Follow my Page on Facebook called Afri-Kim


  1. I'm specheeless!!u have a good heart I've neva seen, May God bless you abundantly kim .I wish I could meet you when u are here (Rwanda)


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