Ben E. King authored (brilliantly) “Stand by Me” in 1960. It’s one of my favorite songs – ever. Always has been. At least since I started listening to music as a young girl. The lyrics are hauntingly stunning and poetic. So simple – and yet they say so much.
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
I stumbled across the Tracy Chapman cover this week and it’s been on replay for the last few days. I love her humble renditions; something about her voice brings me to tears frequently.
Always, it seems, I hold tightly to “Stand by Me” when big change and transition presents itself in life.
Three years ago, I remember sitting underneath the expansive, starry, deep blue sky at Maisara’s home in our village. I still had 6 months left in my Peace Corps service, but we were talking about the pending change – and what would come after.
“We don’t always know what is ahead of us, Maisara,” I began, “but, you can be sure that no matter the distance between us, I will always stand by you. I will support you, love you, and encourage you – no matter where I go. I want to hold onto these times forever, but don’t worry, even better is going to come. Just you wait and see.”
She chuckled, almost in disbelief, “Yego sha! Turi kumwe.” (Yes my dear, we are together).
I didn’t have to say anything. I knew I would remain true to my word. In turn, I knew she – and her sister – would continue to impact my life in unimaginable ways. They have. They do. They will.
They, along with 4 other girls, are a part of a group of women that have already changed their country. They hail from deep village pockets; from places many Rwandans have never heard of. They went to a tired, resource-lacking public school. Be it sickness, death, poverty, divorce, or hunger, they struggle.
Still. That is only one side of their story. They are writing the next part. They write with their excellent marks; with their leadership positions; with their shifting attitudes; and with their dreams. Always, with their dreams.
We talk monthly, and though they don’t realize it, those conversations are often what propel me to keep going too, to keep my head up and remain open to all that life has for us. They inspired me when we lived together so many years ago – and even now they have the ability to do so. It’s incredible. They’ve taught me so much about life. They are the great storytellers in my life.
Three of these girls will FINISH their secondary school this year.
Three of these girls will FINISH their secondary school next year.
When I left Rwanda, that was my dream. That our lives would remain connected; forging together with gusto; and helping pave the way for greater access to education. It’s happening – and we’re almost there. If you want to help the girls finish the sprint to the finish you can contribute to the fund here.
I set out to raise $4,000 to make this happen about two years ago, and now, with only a couple terms to go, we’re only in need of $625! Let’s do this. Murakoze cyane. Thank you very much.