What Motivates Me? by Phillip Mulari – Country Director, Hope Shines Rwanda
When I was 5 years old, I lost my father. My two sisters and I were raised by my mother. She was very loving and graceful to us, so much so that she used to get teased by our neighbors that if she didn’t learn how to punish us, we may end up being spoiled children who may never amount to anything.
With that in mind, my mother gave it her all to bring us up the best way she thought possible, always reminding us to go to school, behave well, and not give her a hard time lest we lead her to an early death. She paired that upbringing with getting us immersed in religion and church. We grew up in church, attending Sunday school, and being involved in various church activities. Now, my mother passed away when I was 15 years old. She basically instilled in me all those values diligently for 10 solid years!
On her deathbed, her last words were “how are my children going to survive without me?”, as narrated to us by her sister (my aunt) who was her caretaker at that point in time. I interpret that statement to mean that my mother, even with all the love, effort and training she poured into us, she still was not sure if we would be able to make good lives for ourselves. Fortunately, my sisters and I have made good lives for ourselves. We are all independent, self-sufficient and productive members of society.
From the age of 15, I was able to make good decisions with my life that have led me to where I am today. But even with a fairly good life I have been able to build for myself, I have self doubt sometimes, I make mistakes, I lose faith but endeavor to bounce back. In retrospect, I have my mother to thank for all she poured into me at that young age.
Why is this story relevant? Everyday when I go to work and meet the children we work with, and hear their stories and struggles, one thing most of them have in common is the absence of parental guidance. As these young Rwandans are growing into young adults, the lack of guidance from their parents/guardians becomes very apparent. We notice this from destructive behaviors they manifest at school and at the Hope Shines center. When we look at these behaviors closely, it becomes apparent that they draw most of them from their parents, and the environment that they are growing up in. If they are left to go on the path that most of them are on, their future is bleak!
The staff at Hope Shines Rwanda, we have lived through similar circumstances as these young people. Our calling therefore is to help guide them with our experience and empathy through this tough transition from childhood into adulthood. We step in where the parents/guardians are absent or lacking and push them to be better, and do better. With love (tough and otherwise), and support, we encourage them to envision a future better than their present. And by example, we exemplify what they could and should be when they take the path to success we present to them.
Facilitating, teaching, encouraging and supporting a young person to transition from a child into a well-rounded, and productive adult in our Rwandan society is what motivates me to wake up and get to work everyday.
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