Out of Africa
A few days ago I boarded a flight in Amsterdam for Seattle, part of a long journey home to Victoria. I was returning from upwards of a month in Tanzania. Just before boarding, I was able to switch to a window seat. Lucky for me, because that’s how I got to meet Omy.
He was heading home from Africa too, to Spokane from Rwanda. I’d never met a Rwandan before. All I knew about that country, besides its location next to Tanzania, was that there’d been a genocide in the 1990s. It turns out that Omy, at the age of nine, survived that holocaust. He managed to escape through a window as other members of his family were slaughtered.
“How, dear God, does a person live with that?” I wondered. I looked at Omy and perceived his aura of peacefulness. He told me more about himself, his healing and the purpose he created from his agonizing past. In his own words, here’s his story.
Surviving the Unthinkable
How did Omy physically survive the horror? By the grace of God is the only answer that comes to my mind. And then, how did he emotionally and spiritually survive the ongoing trauma? First was through love, which included the wise counsel to give back. Somehow I think Omy would have done that anyway, given his deep empathy with homeless children’s suffering. Still, it must have been wonderful to have a caring father figure guide him in that way.
Healing Self and Serving Others
“Giving back” has helped Omy find purpose in his own pain. When purpose involves serving others, then one’s own suffering can not have been totally in vain. There is room to breathe with that. The healing process and peace are nourished further. “This world deserves peace,” indeed.
A reggae musician, Omy, along with his wife Samantha, has created a nonprofit organization called “Impanda.” The vision of this organization, from their website, is “to empower homeless Rwandan youth through consistent nutrition, basic education, and therapeutic programs centered around art and music.”
Dealing with the basics on his last trip back to Rwanda, Omy took backpacks filled with clothes, shoes and other essentials for distribution to street kids. Performances with his band helped to raise the funds necessary.
Dance to the Rhythm of Your Own Heart
In Kinyarwanda, one of Rwanda ‘s official languages, Impanda means ‘calling.’ From the mission statement on their website, the choice of the name is explained:
In short, in finding their calling and fulfilling it with joy, they transform the world! The same could be said for all of us. Imagine that!
Save the Children
In closing, please enjoy some of the reggae sounds of Omy K! For his songs “Orphans” and “Africa,” please visit: Impanda Music.
If you would like to financially support the work of Impanda, you may do so here: http://www.impandarwanda.org/ Please consider sharing the inspiring vision of Impanda with others.