Sarah is another awesome woman I met through Social Media (see Holy) and though we have yet to meet IRL we’ve been following each other for a few years now. We started following each other on Instagram because we had one thing in common, we were both posting a lot of pictures of Rwanda when Rwanda wasn’t really a big travel destination. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to watch Sarah take the Kula Project from an idea and turn it into what it is today. I know first hand that the amazing work Sarah does in Rwanda truly makes a difference in the lives of the people she works with. Sarah empowers rural coffee farmers and helps them generate income and change their lives. This is the important part. The Kula Project empowers people to change their own lives, they invest in community leaders and entrepreneurs. I can’t wait to share Sarah’s story with you and I hope she inspires you just as much as she has inspired me. If you are looking for a great cause to support look no further, The Kula Project is it.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Sarah Buchanan, I am the founder and director of the Kula Project, a project that invests in the dreams and interests of coffee farmers in Rwanda. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia and I currently split my time between Atlanta and Kigali, Rwanda.
2. Why did you start The Kula Project?
I chose to start Kula because I believed that community problems could be solved with community ideas, and we saw a great disconnect between what organizations were doing and what the communities actually needed.
3. What inspires you?
Nature inspires me. I feel the most connected to myself, to my faith, and to me work when I’m on safari- just seeing the way creation works in so much unity and intentionality is simply remarkable.
4. What is your personal mantra or mission statement?
Against all odds. I have it framed in my office and my house. There is no reason that I would get to work with so many badass Rwandan women, and there is no way the avenue would be coffee, and there is no way it would actually work. But, against all odds, I do and it does, and I remind myself that of that when I’m scared or discouraged.
5. What does happiness mean to you?
I think that is journey we are always on, understanding our own meaning and definition of happiness. It changes and adjusts as I go through new experiences and learn how to live in between the highs and lows of leading a small non-profit in a tiny country across the world.
6. What are your hobbies?
I take photos. The first several years of Kula, I didn’t have any hobbies and Kula became my identity, but in the past year, I’ve learned the importance of learning something new and doing things that bring you peace outside your work. I travel a lot, so taking photos is fun hobby to have.
7. What are a few things you do every single day to keep yourself on track?
I pray. I’m better at it some days than others, but I really try. I’m also really trying to get a health routine down, and I normally say that it’s hard to that traveling so much, but I’m realizing more and more that that’s just an excuse.
8. If you could give advice to someone looking to get into your field what would it be and why?
Try to have an income-generating activity. Depending on donations is becoming increasingly difficult. We are five years in, and we are just figuring out how to generate income, and all of our lives would’ve been much easier if we would have relinquished some of the dependency a long time ago.
9. What has been your most rewarding experience so far? Work or personal
It’s been incredible to watch our ladies share their ideas. When I first met many of them, they spoke quietly and would only answer questions, but we have put in so much time and effort to let them know we love them, value them, and truly want to know their ideas and opinions. Over the last couple of years, we’ve gone from shy whispers to public speaking classes, to literal dance parties, and that has been so rewarding to watch this affirmation of love and friendship.
10. What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life thus far? What did you learn? Are you thankful for what it taught you?
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. That’s something I haven’t talked much about, but the more private conservations I have, the more I realize how common it is, and how someone saying “me too” can make all the difference. I don’t think I’ve overcame it completely, I think it will always be a process, but I’m learning to be grateful for the process.
11. Who is your role model/ who has been the most influential person in your life?
This woman named Maria. She is a woman I’ve worked with in Rwanda for the past three years. She truly changed my life. I see things differently since meeting her. Resilience, success, peace and the pursuit of it, I have a new lens on all these things since meeting her. When I’m tired and burnt out and ready to quit, I think about her and her relentless pursuit of survival now and 22 years ago during the Rwandan genocide, and I’m reminded that against all odds, I’m where I’m supposed to be doing what I was made to do, even during the moments when I really don’t want to.