The upbeat story of an American couple raising their three children in Rwanda and making a huge difference in the lives of thousands.
Ruxin (Public Health/Columbia Univ.), an adviser to government and business leaders on business strategy and economic development before becoming director of the Millennium Villages Project in Rwanda, narrates with assurance and gusto. The author includes horror stories of the 1994 genocide, but this account is essentially a positive one about how to succeed in ending poverty in the developing world. Ruxin has five rules: 1) feed starving people, since hungry people cannot do what needs to be done to move forward; 2) demand high standards where they improve performance, and upgrade institutions that benefit people; 3) do not attempt development in hopelessly corrupt countries; 4) do not start any project that won’t be sustainable after you leave; 5) trust the market to be the biggest player. In the author’s experience, the profit model can carry the heaviest load for long-term development. While he was busy bringing health care and sustainable farming techniques to the Millennium Village, his wife launched Heaven, an upscale restaurant in Kigali, recruiting and training Rwandans to prepare and serve gourmet meals using local products. There were setbacks in both projects, and Ruxin does not hesitate to describe many of them. He gives credit to talented, hardworking Rwandans, experienced international experts and generous American donors. A staunch proponent of applying strict management standards and demanding measurable results, Ruxin makes a strong case for this position. For those seeking to sample Rwandan cuisine, an appendix offers some intriguing recipes from Heaven’s bar and kitchen.
A personal adventure tale with a serious message for those concerned with eradicating poverty.