Just 47 days until we take our leave of the United States, fly to Amsterdam and then on to Kigali, Rwanda. As we continue to ready ourselves, we are reminded of the bounty that we enjoy. These thoughts were brought home by team member, Dan Russell. Dan and his wife, Allison, are students in the SMU Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management program. Dan is a Dallas police officer and Allison works in international studies at SMU.
One of our experiences in Rwanda will be a visit to a refugee camp. The hearts of our team are warm and we have had frequent discussions about what gifts we might take to these people who have been displaced by violence and hatred.
And one of the answers? Maxipads.
Young women in Rwanda lacking hygiene products are not allowed to attend school during their menstrual periods. With education being a vital key to ending the cycle of oppression and discrimination and a way to open doors, something as basic as a maxipad becomes a valuable commodity — a passport to the classroom.
Dan and Allison have agreed to begin collecting the maxipads and to transport them to Africa. Dan posted this picture today on our team’s private FaceBook group page with the caption
It is a weird sentence. But, I bet that Dan had never thought that part of this effort would involve the methodical collection of feminine hygiene products — specifically maxipads. There was some humor in his statement. Let’s face it, with these products readily available, it’s pretty rare that you see a hoarding operation in progress. At least not in your own closet.
But Dan goes on to talk about concepts of privilege and how we who are privileged fail to see the importance of basic needs. Maxipads. Safe drinking water. Personal security. Dan makes the point and that stack of maxipads looks more like treasure.
We are learning through collections of maxipads and medical kits and soccer balls and children’s clothes that we live in a world of bounty. Peacemaking, by its very nature, includes sharing in the bounty. For when a person — or a country — withholds what it has in abundance from those in need, conflict is assured.