The Road to Rwanda
“Before the trip, I had fears of the unknown. This was the first time I was leaving the country. What kind of people would I meet? Would they be open to strangers? Would I like the food? Can I drink the water? I was afraid of being out of my comfort zone.”
Tammy is a 2017 graduate of the Magdalene program and started working for Thistle Farms in the manufacturing department. She has worked with Ikirezi oils for years, creating our geranium bug spray line. More recently Tammy has moved into a pivotal role on the Global Team as purchase and inventory officer and has taken on a leadership role in the relationship with Ikirezi. It wasn't until her trip to Rwanda in January that she was able to have a full understanding and appreciation for the partnership with Ikirezi and the farmers in Rwanda.
The trip was the first site visit for the Accelerator Program, an intensive support program for
Thistle Farms Global Partners. After Tammy and the Global Team returned from their week in Rwanda, we were able to visit with Tammy about her experience and takeaways from the program.
Q: What did you expect from this trip to Rwanda?
T: Before the trip, I had fears of the unknown. This was the first time I was leaving the country. What kind of people would I meet? Would they be open to strangers? Would I like the food? Can I drink the water? I was afraid of being out of my comfort zone.
Q: Who was an influential person you met in Rwanda?
T: We met a lovely woman named Eileen, whose mother and father were killed in the genocide. Her soul spoke to me. She was very open to sharing a little bit of her story with us. She had such a beautiful laugh. She could not remember how old she was or her birthday, but a lot of people in the village couldn’t. She was full of joy and the village loved her.
Q: How is the community in Rwanda similar to the community of Thistle Farms?
T: The love in the community is so deep. Everyone in the village has a special bond with one another. They look out for each other. It speaks volumes to see how much joy they have in their hearts. It makes me realize God has a way of working things out.
Q: What did you learn from Nicolas / the Ikirezi team?
T: Nicolas has a great team behind him. They are all such strong individuals. They are ready for change and the support from Thistle Farms. He showed great leadership by knowing that everyone on his team has to be a part of the change. Taking suggestions sometimes means that you are ready to do things differently.
Q: You have worked with geranium for years, what was it like seeing where it comes from?
T: I have a new appreciation for our geranium products. The amount of work it takes to make such a small amount of oil is amazing. It takes 10 hours to press a lot of geranium plant, for a small amount of oil. The farmers put in a lot of hard work.
Q: Finally, what was your biggest take away from this trip?
T: I have a lot of hope and love for Nicolas and his team. I want to thank them for letting us come and be a part of such a loving and caring team. I want to thank Becca for the laughs we shared; Tara, Frannie, and Fiona for their guidance and the beautiful reflection. Lastly, I want to thank Hal, who did an amazing job sharing his knowledge with Nicolas. I was able to get a good understanding of things I did not have a clue about. Everyone made me feel welcome.