The saying “God sleeps in Rwanda” is often voiced by the people of Rwanda. Some, when speaking, mean that God comes to rest in in their country because of its high altitude and abundance of hills. The majority, however, sincerely mean that God works everywhere else in the world, except for Rwanda. After years of genocide, ethnic tension, and extreme poverty, this sentiment is understandable. A Thousand Hills to Heaven, written by Josh Ruxin in 2013, recounts an American couple’s experience with international development in Rwanda. This book is singular in that it communicates the author’s daily life as if it were a novel, while educating the reader about his five rules for international development and the state of the country. According
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Ruxin founded HealthBuilders with funding from Jeffrey Sachs and the UN, and has achieved great success for Rwanda. HealthBuilders evaluates public health programs and uses private sector and business management techniques to catalyze improvement. According to Ruxin’s website, heavenrwanda.com, Healthbuilders has improved “management systems in 86 health centers across Rwanda and has constructed 5 health facilities serving 150,000 people.” HealthBuilder’s energy and new presence has reinvigorated the healthcare network in Rwanda.
Ruxin attended London University for his doctorate and his wife, Alyssa, graduated from Harvard with a Masters in public health. Josh spends most of his time in Rwanda with HealthBuilders, and Alyssa, once they had the idea for a restaurant, led the building project and has managed Heaven since its open in 2008. Though the couple’s transition from New York City to Rwanda was difficult, they have fallen in love with the nation.
A Thousand Hills to Heaven helps readers understand the on-the-ground situation in Rwanda, from the improvements in governance, to the betterment of health facilities, to the permanent scars of the genocide, and to the hunger, disease, and poverty still troubling the country. Ruxin paints an optimistic picture for the future of the country, while being realistic. He explains that the government is one of the best