We didn’t get much notice when Sports Relief asked if it could bring a celebrity to see a WJR project in Rwanda and film the journey. They wanted Caroline Flack to visit to show how donations were spent.
I had concerns. I wasn’t sure how a celebrity expected to be treated. Rwandans are reserved people and don’t generally show emotion. Also, the countryside is vast and I was unsure the team realised the effort it would take to visit different locations.
I needn’t have worried. Caroline immediately proved herself to be hardworking and professional. We took her deep into the Rwandan countryside where she had to stand for long periods under a hot sun while filming. She joined farmers in tomato fields and spent time harvesting, carrying the basket on her shoulder and helping to load the truck. And whether it was an unco-operative goat or an overtired little girl, Caroline handled it all with humour.
She was also warm and approachable with our participants. She greeted them with a big smile and listened to their stories with concentration interest and compassion.
WJR has worked in Rwanda for 12 years. Many of those we support are vulnerable and traumatised. When Caroline spoke to them it looked like she had known them for a long time. In front of her, they seemed to open up.
It was an honour to have such an engaged and warm person visit our project to highlight the difference it has made to people’s lives.