December 18th, 2013
02:15 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Josh Ruxin is the director of Health Builders, the author of "A Thousand Hills to Heaven" and can frequently be found tweaking recipes and mixing drinks at Heaven Restaurant in Kigali, Rwanda.

After we were married eight years ago, I convinced my wife, Alissa, to leave New York City to move with me to Rwanda.

We both had always wanted to have some impact on health and poverty somewhere on the African continent, and Rwanda was easily our first pick. I had worked in different capacities with the government since the late 1990s, and had been moved by the country's ambition to become the "Singapore of Africa.”

Although reminders of the 1994 genocide were fresh, the country was moving rapidly on its promise to build a new nation. Great public health projects were afoot, and the young president was romancing private investment from all over the world. My wife bravely took the plunge, sight unseen. She expected the worst.

What she saw amazed her: The country was, and is, remarkably clean and safe - well beyond what you would find in other nations on the continent. It was cleaner and safer, day and night, than you’ll find in many parts of New York City. There were no bribes to be paid, construction was happening at a staggering rate and the weather was like Southern California year-round. She set to work with orphans of the genocide, many of whom were in need of scholarships for university education.
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Filed under: Africa • Travel


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