When we arrived at the house today, we were thrilled to see how much progress the men had made. The photo speaks for itself.
The clerk of works, Zachary, and his men were ready for us and we went straight to work, nailing battens and wood planks to the rear walls of the house. We had to begin low down -see picture – the nails were long and the wood tough to penetrate. It was hard for us but they made it look easy! Nevertheless, they appreciate our coming to help and work alongside them. There is a positive team spirit between us and also with people, especially children, in the immediate neighbourhood. They have taken us to their hearts and the atmosphere is just wonderful to experience. Half the team work on the house while the rest entertain the growing number of children with singing and activities. There were about 50 today plus onlookers and adults.
When we got back to our bus at the end of the morning, we were greeted by Zachary and his wife. They had a very large basket of bananas for us which she had carried there on her head. It was a gracious and generous gesture.
In the afternoon, we went to the local market. It was on four floors, very crowded, noisy and smelly. But we had fun buying shoes for the workmen and materials for the children.
Yesterday, we spent the whole day on Nkombo Island. We visited it last time and sent over 200 family filters there. It is regarded as one of the poorest parts of Rwanda.
We travelled there on two local boats – see picture. A lovely scenic ride on Lake Kivu, except that the engine of one of them was temperamental. Just a small hiccup, though! We were welcomed by a group of people on the shore singing and dancing. Wonderful! The walk up to the main part of the island was really steep but once up there, were joined by lots of children and spoke to some quite old people.
The Diocese has a big role in education and social care here. We visited the children’s nutrition clinic and helped to serve them – picture of some of them outside the church school. Each classroom we visited sang to us. We divided into groups to feed themin each of the 5 classrooms. There were over 500 of them. All very well managed and organised. Much better than 2 years ago – everything we saw demonstrated huge improvement and progress. Very much in line with the progress of the country as a whole. The church is right in the middle of all this – very encouraging.
We had a lovely lunch in the pastor’s home – Rwandans are very hospitable people. It was a joy to share this time with him and his family.
In the afternoon, we visited homes who were using the filters we sent over last time. You have been generous in giving us money for these and we can assure you that they were being used well. Their use is being constantly monitored by someone from the Diocese. All well managed.
A really affirming and encouraging day for all of us.
Today, there is more house building and a visit to the local market.
When we reached the house yesterday morning, we were amazed at the progress the men had made. We were warmly wecomed by them and also by the community all round including lots of children. So, as well as more batten nailing and mud ball throwing, we entertained the children with songs and practical things eg making bracelets from beads. They loved it all. The photo below show the ‘mud ball chain gang’- by far the best way to get the mud from its source outside to its destination inside the house. The other one shows Denise feeding her cow. What you see is where she lives – two rooms, one she sleeps in sharing the space with her cow. She is getting so much joy seeing her new house rising up so quickly.
In the afternoon, we visited a government hospital. This was by invitation of the Diocese which has a strong presence there helping patients, especially those in greatest need. It is almost impossible to describe the range of feelings and emotions which we experienced as we moved through the wards and met patients. Many of them really appreciated us spending time with them and praying with them. This included prisoners. The overall ward provision was probably even more basic than the health centre we had seen earlier, and it was easy to see why we were asked to bring sheets and towels. They will meet a real need – thank you to all those who gave them.
We had the opportunity to meet a group of patients whom the Social Worker identified as being the most needy. We presented each one of them with soap and sugar (expensive over here).
Finally, here are a couple of shots of our sitting room and social area, when we were trying to sort out all the different baby and children’s clothes for distribution. We have a lot of them! You will also see sheets and towels plus blue boxes of water filters. And ther is lots more you can’t see! By the end of our stay, the room will be empty!