The story starts with two people named Beata and Brian.
Technically, the story starts long before these two people met. It starts in 1994 Rwanda.
This story is not an easy one. The heartache is palpable because in 1994 Rwanda a genocide had begun.
Beata grew up in Butare Rwanda. Went to school there, was married there, became a nurse and worked in the hospital there, had children there. She had friends, relatives and neighbors killed in the genocide. Her husband was murdered. She fled with her three children. Returned, but it was not yet safe so she fled again. Which sounds easy, but the times they were stopped and almost killed were many and why that never happened she has no answer for other than it was not her time to die.
With some family already in the United States she and her children were relocated to be with family. She had to start from scratch. Her nursing degree was not recognized. She did not yet speak English. But this woman is unstoppable. She met Brian because he was working with Habitat for Humanity and helped to build her house. At this point she had recently returned to Rwanda to visit, to remember, to grieve. When she returned she spoke to Brian about the state of her old primary school to see if Habitat could do anything to help.
Not the organization, but Brian could. He pulled out his long list of contacts and began making calls. Who wanted to help renovate a primary school in Rwanda? The team grew to just over 30 people and traveled to Butare in July 2007.
I was on that team. Jimi and Cristi Cook were on that team. It was supposed to be a single project for them. But renovating this school lit a fire in them and they started Be The Change Volunteers and have gone on to work in several countries and change the lives of more than a thousand individuals by supporting communities through sustainable education.
It all began with a conversation between Beata and Brian.
It all began because Brian was willing to do something about what he heard.
It all began because Jimi and Cristi believe in the power of education to change lives.
It all began to bring hope to a community who had been hemorrhaging and struggling to recover for over a decade.
It all began and it continues to grow, inspire and impact lives.