Making friends a world away

Fulton group shores up partnership with Rwanda

One of 10 local volunteers to make the annual summer trip to Rwanda, Allie Barden poses with some of the local children after church. Barden is staying in Rwanda as a volunteer with the Rwanda Community Partnership and Humanity for Children.

One of 10 local volunteers to make the annual summer trip to Rwanda, Allie Barden poses with some of the local children after church. Barden is staying in Rwanda as a volunteer with the Rwanda Community Partnership and Humanity for Children.

Hannah Minchow-Proffitt knew before she left Kibungo, Rwanda last summer that she would be back to Fulton and Callaway County’s sister community.

Having just returned from her second trip as part of a group of 10 volunteers, Minchow-Proffitt — who works in Westminster College’s Emerson Center for Leadership and Service — said Kibungo is now in her blood.

“It is one of those infectious places — I knew it wasn’t going to be my last trip there before I even left the first time,” she said. “For me, returning it was rewarding to see familiar places and faces so far from home and having people remember you and say, ‘You really did come back!’

“It’s become part of my life.”

With days spent volunteering with other representatives of the Rwanda Community Partnership and Humanity for Children at orphanages and hospitals and furthering relationships with the residents of Kibungo, Minchow-Proffitt said the highlight of her second visit was solidifying her connection with the locals.

“I think my favorite part was going to the Presbyterian church,” she said. “They asked me the night before if I would give my faith narrative.

“It allowed me to realize how this trip has impacted that aspect of my life as well.”

Sam Mayne, a 2012 Fulton High School graduate who traveled to Rwanda for the first time this July, said he also made some strong connections during his trip.

“I think the highlight of my trip was one day when I went out and played a game of soccer with some guys. I felt like I made some friends that day,” Mayne said. “It was just human-to-human contact and it really felt like I got to know those guys.”

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