Finding your purpose in life is a major theme we revisit often in our lives. Over the past 10 years, my wife and life partner, Dr. Patricia Pasick, has been involved in a project which has been deeply meaningful to her and given her life great purpose.
In today’s Dr. Rob post, I’d like to give Pat a chance to describe her project, and talk about why it’s been so important.
Working with kids in Africa had always been a goal of mine, since age 20 or so. Forty years later I found myself with Rob in Rwanda, watching for something to inspire me. Stories for Hope Rwanda, a post-genocide intergenerational dialogue project was born in 2008, at age 60. It has been reported on by the New York Times, recognized at the UM (Distinguished Alumnae Award in 2012), and in 2014 I was nominated for the Purpose Prize, an award given to someone over age 60 who has made a significant social contribution in the non-profit world.
A dozen trips later, with over 200 dialogues audio-recorded, transcribed, and archived in, I met my goals, and evaluations indicated that talking and questioning elders is a key component to healing from genocidal wounds. I was done with Stories for Hope.
But Rwanda was not done with me. Instead, it has become part of my everyday existence. Living and working in sub-Saharan Africa has swept me into some complicated geo-political and emotional places.
For example, the average Rwandan lost 34 relatives to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsi. Entire families have been lost. The losses are immense, and survivors continue to struggle. I know many now, and heard many of their stories.
For example, through a friend who searched for and found his sister’s remains, I visited Kinazi, in the south of Rwanda, and saw where over 60,000 bodies were bull-dozed.
I now raise funds for the Kinazi Memorial, and visited their new building in 2016 where the remains of 60,676 are secured in an underground tomb.
Who would have guessed that at age 69 this is part of my life’s work? A sense of purpose, well-nurtured, is directional. Life, if you let it, takes you to some amazing places.
Pat has organized a crowdsourcing campaign to help build a memorial to the 60,000 Rwandans who were murdered on the Kinazi region. Please consider contributing to this extremely worthy cause. For more information, click on the link below.
Thanks in advance,