Visiting the Pastor’s Meeting & Orphan Vulnerable Children
Rwanda has been referred to as the Garden of Eden, with all of its beauty-the land of a thousand hills, this can’t be disputed. It is so good to return to this land for my third time, seeing familiar faces, familiar landmarks yet new experiences are ever waiting. Every morning, I am serenaded by groups of fishermen returning from a nights worth of fishing in their boats returning to the shoreline of Lake Kivu in front of my window. Their melodious Rwandan voices are raised in unison as this brotherhood sets sail at 5pm and returns at 600am as predictable as is the waters coming to shore. What a treasure to be awoken each morning to this.
It has been a busy day for us! We made our way into Nyamasheke in the trucks again, riding the rough roads in this rural area which for some, like myself, I quite enjoy riding on. For others, the ride was not quite agreeing with their systems. Perhaps it will take some getting used to. We spent time at a Pastors meeting in Shengai where upon greeting the pastors, I was able to greet one by name, Pastor Damien, as I had stayed in his home during my previous visit to Rwanda. I wish I could describe for you the look on his face when I addressed him by name! It was a privilege to bear witness to the unity of the churches within this district who work together, regardless of denomination, to pool their resources to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable within their midst. They reported how they were able to have met some of the needs of their most vulnerable people together in their communities thus far, and too, laid out their ambition plan for the future knowing full well that God is perfectly able to meet that need. This group of pastors are strong in their faith and asked CrossRoads church to pray for the security of their people and the country of Rwanda, for the good work of the church to continue and not to become deterred by the devil, and for the church’s “conditions” to be blessed that they may continue the activities they are wishing to create for their community.
We walked from this meeting to another one surrounded by many children and adults. We met three individuals who work out of the Pastors committee, who spend time with the sick and dying, in both the hospital and in homes, particularly with those who have no family. It was touching to hear these individuals speak of how out of Christian duty they are care for the infirm. When I asked about their self-care strategies in trying to balance their care of family, home and the sick, this concept was lost on the Rwandans. Self-care is a Western construct, one born out of individualization not out of community based society. Their response to this was that care was out of duty, and for community and family. My realization is that what our focus is on in the West/Canada needs to be carefully considered when in an international setting. It was a great lesson learned.
The group split into two and visited two different Orphan Vulnerable Children. The young woman I met was Amminiz. She was about 13 years of age and was residing with her “mother”, as was her brother, who was married. She apparently lost her father from a stomach issue. She states that she likes chemistry and biology but not math, and has dreams of becoming a doctor. However, she is not passing all of her classes as she is not able to get her homework done as there is no power in the home, so she attends school early however, she does not have fees to pay to stay and eat at school so much leave to come home to eat, but often there is no school. It is a vicious and complex cycle of poverty for which there is no easy solution. It too reminds me, that I need to consider that there may be other sides to this story that need to be considered as well.
With a few of the team not feeling so well, the rest took a trek to the Congolese border. Our World Relief Field Co-Ordinator stated it was a 20 minute walk which must have been African time because our North American clocks indicated it to be approximately a 45 minute walk each way! If ever a time to start off a weight loss program, this is the walk to do it with the incredible downhills which inevitably turn into an uphill! It is always an interesting experience seeing the changing milieu at the Congolese border from that of Rwandan culture. Of note, as someone that is not ashamed to disclose her “issues” with snakes, I caught up with a group of Rwandan men who found a snake on the sidewalk- I could tell you that it was huge, but others will attest to it that it was small. Believe what you will. The men were trying to kill it with their bike. Let’s just say that it tainted the rest of my walk to the guest house, calling me to look at the sidewalk. For the individual out there- and you know who you are, who said there were no snakes in Rwanda- yah, whatever.
Some of the team are missing in action this evening, having called it a very early evening and will hopefully be feeling better in the morning. Tomorrow will be a new day with the serenading beginning bright and early. This adventure in Rwanda is still in its infancy, yet anything that presents is a God opportunity if we are willing to receive it. What is God teaching me through each person I meet on this journey? What am I learning during those times that I want to fix but know that I cannot without causing more pain and oppression? And, what does Rwanda have to teach us back in Canada?
The 2017 Rwanda trip leader,