The morning Arlene Brown read in her hometown newspaper about the abandoned children in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, she did what few retirees would ever consider doing. She joined with a mission group to make the long journey to Africa. Her memoir, Hope Made Real, is filled with rich experiences and courageous actions. Her writings reveal that the most important journeys we make can't be measured in miles, but in the strength, wisdom, and love found along the way.
Arlene is a deeply revolutionary woman who, in these pages, shares her wild and sometimes frightening adventures. She speaks with refreshing candor, about her own successes and mistakes. This inspiring "eye-opening" book shares all the ups and downs that such a life-changing decision entail. It is soul material, human and tragic, funny and touching, deeply spiritual.
In this book you will not only learn why Arlene gave up everything to travel to Africa, but what continues to drive her in her ongoing vision of a better kinder world. Woven throughout the pages, Arlene shares stories from her childhood that help the reader make sense of her life-changing decision. Her years of raising a family of five, working as a practical nurse, volunteering in the prison system, and her many years laboring in a high-tech factory suddenly come together. All of this, and none of this, prepared her for what was ahead.
Arlene's move to Rwanda, and what she believed would be her final chapter, was the beginning of a whole new book. With many chapters still to come, now at the age of ninety, her life continues to move in strange and wonderful directions. Saving the world may be out of her purview. But, with courage, tenacity and most of all love, Arlene continues to make a difference in the small undertaking allotted to her. When people ask her if she is a missionary, she tells them, "No". Instead she describes herself as, "a woman with a mission." Mama Arlene's quest to help repair the world happens to be in Muhanga, Rwanda—the home of Urukundo Learning Center.
The book draws in the reader as she tells of her escape from an erupting volcano, is smuggled out of the country with the aid of the United States Embassy and runs from angry African bees. Her story reads like a detective novel as she unravels the secrets that lie behind the façade of some of the early players. Hope Made Real is filled with memorable stories of the children whom she touched with her love and from whom she in turn received so much more. Eight pages of pictures illustrate her life from childhood to Founder of Urukundo Foundation and Executive Director of its primary school of over nine-hundred children, the Sewing Center to train seamstresses and tailors, as well as the Dental Clinic, farm and so much more.
Rarely do women take the risk to break away and begin a second chapter post-retirement. Honest and down-to-earth, without apology, she challenges others to answer their own calling to servant leadership. Mama Arlene's extraordinary story is a lightning rod to the head and heart stimulating us to get out of our easy chairs and challenges us to do something meaningful with our lives.