Haven't told you about one of my favorite places in Kigali, though there is no way I can adequately describe the Inema Arts Center. It needs to be seen for anyone to fully appreciate the experience...and experience it truly is, from the colorful mural on the front gate to the sculptures scattered throughout the grounds to the amazing diversity of the paintings displayed on the gallery walls, all created by the ten young artists who share the studio space.
The "brainchild" and dream fulfillment of two uniquely-wonderful, self-taught artists- who also happen to be brothers- Inema is dedicated to reaching people through the arts, whether it is the young people in their dancing troupe or the women who come to learn fabric crafts using the center's sewing machines or the countless European and American travelers who come to see- and perhaps (the artists fervently hope), to buy.
We spent several joy-filled hours touring the center, meeting the artists, and hearing the updates of the work Emmanuel and Innocent have been doing in United States. Both have traveled there several times, to tell about their work in Rwanda, to display their art, and to lead workshops on using art to reach all kinds of people. Then we enjoyed a lovely dinner together last evening, joined by Tutu, another one of the artists. It really does my heart good to be treated as a valued friend by guys almost young enough to be my grandchildren, reminding me that friendship knows- or should know- no boundaries. Can you picture it? Three handsome, young African men sharing a table,a meal, an evening with two aging, white-haired, undeniably-white American women. Glorious doesn't even begin to describe it. And to top the evening off, this evening of the holiest of communions, these dear guys offered to take us to the airport so that we all might have a little more time together "to hang out," in Emmanuel's words.
And so, this morning found us in their nice little car, heading to Kigali Airport, where we shared coffee and conversation until it was time for us to check in.
Keeping in touch is not optional; it simply will be. More of those connections I have come to value so highly, accompanied by the ever-increasing realization that we ARE the same...and that this is what makes life worth living. Once again today, I am truly and fully blessed. Thanks be to God.