Rhymes about our time in Rwanda

Since all of us B&B travelers are blogging about our experience in Rwanda, I decided to get a bit creative and diversify my account of the trip with a poem. This poem, which was written in short segments throughout the trip, was influenced by my struggles and accomplishments with the students and teachers at Kabwende primary as well as other Rwandans I encountered throughout our travels around the country. The constant need to adapt (whether due to an unsuitable lesson plan, a language barrier, or a missed flight) is a major theme. The poem includes ruminations about the project in general and guidance for those who are to follow in our footsteps. It is intended to stimulate thought about service and express some of the ideas that struck me along this trip.


The greatest tree was once a seed

And true fulfillment starts with need

In selfishness we’re slaves to greed

Through serving others we are freed


Recognize the power of speech

And help, don’t hurt those who you reach

Always practice what you preach

Forever learn from those you teach


Mourn a language when it’s dead

Or save a life inside your head

For every word you’ve ever said

Was born from one you heard or read


Speak out loud what others mumbled

Pick the ball up when it’s fumbled

Rebuild a nation when it’s crumbled

The proudest are most deeply humbled

We must not remain unaware

Of what it means to share and care

Some dismiss this: “Life’s not fair!”

Let’s raise the bar and get up there


But how shall we define success?

The stuff you have or how you dress?

How many people you impress?

Obtaining more or wanting less?


I digress. The future’s bright

Deep wounds heal when sutured right

Weigh your options. Choose your plight

Cooperate while losers fight


We all are different. You’re unique

You’re different than you were last week

Embrace change when strangers speak

Love yourself, admire the freak

Step outside you comfort zone

Help someone who’s all alone

Share with others what you own

Never stop a rolling stone


You never know what might come next

Don’t let the unknown leave you vexed

Keep the power in your mind flexed

Be prepared and not perplexed


So when the change comes, you adapt

That which doesn’t bend gets snapped

Even when you think you’re trapped

Keep your mind alert and apt


Optimize each situation

Take pleasure in your acclimation

Overcome each complication

Seek a lifelong education

And when you can, extend your hand

To help someone to understand


No matter what the powers command

Open your mind, let it expand


Then step back and reassess

Have you cleaned up or made a mess?

Consult your comrades, coalesce

Express your progress nonetheless


The earth supports what these hands sow

As ideas all across lands go

To share the things we each can know

We all shall read, learn, teach, and grow

Max Breitinger




August 20, 2012 · 6:32 pm

2 responses to “Rhymes about our time in Rwanda

  1. Cynthia Breitinger


  2. Munyaneza Simon Pierre

    I like this so instructive

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