A Journey’s Impact

Senior Volunteers In Rwanda, Reflects On Experiences

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A Journey’s Impact

Senior Faith Elliott smiles along with three Rwandan children in the village of  Kageyo, Rwanda. Elliott volunteers with a group called Africa New Life in Rwanda and said that the trip impacts her every year.

Senior Faith Elliott smiles along with three Rwandan children in the village of Kageyo, Rwanda. Elliott volunteers with a group called Africa New Life in Rwanda and said that the trip impacts her every year. "What surprises me the most about the people there is how the Rwandans can have so little and still be filled with joy. This year was different than the last because I already knew what to expect and saw a lot of old friends there, it was like I was going back home.”

Photo Courtesy of Faith Elliot

Senior Faith Elliott smiles along with three Rwandan children in the village of Kageyo, Rwanda. Elliott volunteers with a group called Africa New Life in Rwanda and said that the trip impacts her every year. "What surprises me the most about the people there is how the Rwandans can have so little and still be filled with joy. This year was different than the last because I already knew what to expect and saw a lot of old friends there, it was like I was going back home.”

Photo Courtesy of Faith Elliot

Photo Courtesy of Faith Elliot

Senior Faith Elliott smiles along with three Rwandan children in the village of Kageyo, Rwanda. Elliott volunteers with a group called Africa New Life in Rwanda and said that the trip impacts her every year. "What surprises me the most about the people there is how the Rwandans can have so little and still be filled with joy. This year was different than the last because I already knew what to expect and saw a lot of old friends there, it was like I was going back home.”

Kieren Garner, Reporter

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It is usual for high school students to want to spend their free time sleeping in, hanging out with friends, or maybe even binging Netflix. But there are the rare few who want to spend their free time helping others in a completely foreign place.

Senior Faith Elliott recently started a project called Project Friendship. The project receives homemade bracelets as a donation, which Elliott takes back to a village in Rwanda.

“I started the project so I could bring something thoughtful to the children of Kageyo,” Elliott said. “I started Project Friends in September and my favorite part about it is seeing the children’s faces when I give them the bracelets.” 

According to Elliott, her mom had been to Rwanda before and loved it so much that she wanted to bring the whole family. And after her first trip, Elliott knew she needed to go back.

“I went back because on my first trip I fell in love with how beautiful the country is and how amazing the people in the country are,” Elliott said. “What surprises me the most about the people there is how the Rwandans can have so little and still be filled with joy. This year was different than the last because I already knew what to expect and saw a lot of old friends there, it was like I was going back home.”

Elliott said that she spent her time in the country with a ministry called Africa New Life. During her stay, Elliott was volunteering and getting to know the Rwandans.

“During my time in Rwanda I was creating gardens to help communities be more self sustaining,” Elliott said. “My favorite parts of Rwanda were speaking the language with the locals and visiting my sponsored children.”

While Elliott loves the language, she said that it can still be challenging.

“I try very hard to learn the language and pronounce everything correctly,” Elliott said. “It is a language only spoken in Rwanda and it helps me make friends and get to know people easier. When they see you making that effort to communicate with them and learn from them, they really open up.”

According to Elliott, every time she leaves Rwanda she becomes sad.

“When I leave I always feel like I am missing something until I go back again,” Elliott said. “This year it was especially hard to say goodbye.”

After high school, Elliott said she is planning to spend the fall in Rwanda.

“The plan is to spend the fall in Rwanda and get a year of college done at Austin Community College between the summer and the spring,” Elliott said. “I don’t really have a backup right now so I’m just trusting God with the process. If something prevents me from going this fall then I will trust that he has other plans for me.”

Reflecting back on her time, Elliott said that each trip impacts her, and that on her visit next fall she plans to be doing an internship with a photographer named Serrah, who she had met through Africa New Life.

“Serrah was working with Africa New Life as well and was taking pictures in the village we were at so he traveled with us,” Elliott said.” He and I got along really well and he invited me to intern with him after hearing that I wanted to spend time abroad in Rwanda. The trip impacts me each year by refreshing my spirit and reminding me of why I love photography and traveling,”