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People so often become paralyzed by their failures. However, I don’t view these instances as “failures” at all, but rather “necessary steps to my success”. It’s not in the moments of abundance or joy that our character is strengthened. It’s the moments when we overcome obstacles and recover from perceived failures that free our souls and reveal our true selves.

When I first went to Rwanda, I was dead set on petitioning the government for better policies on women’s rights and letting the public know we would not settle for anything less than complete equality. But I was inexperienced and naïve and soon learned that this sort of behavior only brought more scrutiny and oppression to the women I was there to serve. It put them in the cross-hairs.

It was only through four years of turmoil, incarceration, interrogation, public persecution and even being framed for defamation that I learned how to truly serve the women of Rwanda. I could never have learned these lessons in a book or through a conference. I had to experience it. There was a path I was destined to travel. Had I refrained from my initial urge to “fight the system”, I would never have stumbled into the knowledge that I have now. I had to learn these things.

I am of the belief that everything that happens to us is either good, or a path to achieving something good through the lessons learned. It’s our choice. We can be paralyzed or defeated from these instances, or we can choose to dissect them, analyze them and create a new system or practice that reflects the lessons learned.

I will never approach a human rights issue the way I did before. I learned a lesson. It was necessary and I am grateful for that experience.

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