Rwanda_may_2006_578Sometimes you meet someone and instantly know that you will be friends for life. That you have met someone authentic, and someone that truly cares. That describes perfectly one Yamina Karitanyi, a Rwandan forced to grow up outside of her own country. Well, today Yamina, pictured here, works for my hero Ambassador Andrew Young at Goodworks International, where Ambassador Young serves as chairman. As you can see from this candid photo from our trip to Rwanda, she not only works for him, she genuinely cares about his well being (just look at how her care evidences itself standing next to him) and made sure he was well cared for during our entire trip. She is also, as I later found out during our incredible trip throughout the whole of Rwanda, a brave survivor of sorts of the genocide there.

You see, 97 members of Yamina’s extended family were killed as part of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. I found this out by accident, in passing during a casual conversation, but also because Yamina seems so, well, "normal"…whatever that means.

Yes, it still hurts, and we talked about that, but in the normal course of a day or week you would never know it from her. Yamina never makes others pay the price of her personal pain. She wears it with grace and dignity that says "I will not let the past define my or my family’s future." Yamina is a new mother this year, and after spending quality time with her I can only say that her child could not be more blessed to have Yamina as a mother. Frankly, Ambassador Young and the Goodworks International family are fortunate to have her as part of their team, and likewise me and my sweetie, and the HOPE family, are now honored to call Yamina our dear friend.

If only all of us could carry on like Yamina and other survivors of the Rwandan genocide have. When you think about what we here in America "complain" about, and then you contrasts that with that my Rwandan brothers and sisters have gone through, and it helps to put life into perspective for us all.

Thanks Yamina, my friend, for being a bit of a role model for us all. You make me proud to call you friend.

Onward with HOPE

John Hope Bryant

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