What a great idea it was to plan some ‘down time’ at the end of our trip! We have so enjoyed these two days.
Sunday began with an 8 am English Communion Service at the Cathedral – possibly the first one there after the opening ceremony. It was a glorious mix of the old and new – modern songs accompanied on a key board alongside a liturgy based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer! The bishop presided and a Dutch pastor, working here, preached. Quite an experience all round.
Our journey north to Musanze took us the whole day, on a winding road following the east coast of Lake Kivu. Very little traffic and absolutely stunning scenery. We couldn’t have asked for more. There must be more than 1000 hills in Rwanda! Musanze is Rwanda’s second city and is close to 4 volcanoes. Tourism brings many visitors, especially to see the gorillas.
Today, we made a special visit to Imbabazi, the home and gardens of the late Ros Carr author of ‘A land of a thousand hills’. This was a most moving experience enhanced by the commentary of Emmanuel who runs the centre now and had worked for Ros for a number of years. Initially intended as a working farm, it became a refuge and home for orphans of the genocide. It still exists to support local children and has a nursery school based there. The gardens are full of a wide range of beautiful flowers and interesting vegetables – it looked almost English! Ros Carr’s home is just as she had it at the time of her death. We had coffee in her lounge! Part of the film ‘Gorillas in the mist’ was made here.
The afternoon was spent in Gisenyi, the border town with Goma in DRC. Some of us had a swim in Lake Kivu – a few white female bodies amongst almost entirely male black ones! There was just one African lady swimming, fully clothed! We were quite a spectacle watched by many bewildered Rwandans.
Please see next blog for the photos.
Two years ago, we presented Zachary, the foreman of the house building team, with a French bible, which he desperately wanted. He was thrilled!
This time, I presented him with a French version of the African Bible Commentary. He was delighted and enjoyed my explaining to him how to use it. ‘I will certainly use it’ he told me.
Today we met 7 women who had benefited from the Life in Abundance (LiA) Economic Empowerment programme. Potential beneficiaries must join a group of 20 people who are accountable to each other. Each member contributes to a central fund before LiA provides ‘seed money’. This total fund is shared out as loans and the whole sum is to be repaid by the group after 6 months. We were most impressed at how this initial capital was used to set up small businesses. At the open market, we saw three ‘stalls’, selling fruit, vegetables fish and cooking oil. Each person had repaid her loan and all 3 businesses were doing really well. One stall was already empty – everything had gone!
Later, we met 4 people who had been equally successful working from home. Rearing baby pigs and selling them fully grown was one excellent example of making good use of the initial loan. Everyone was proud that they were now able to feed their family – the very first priority. Here was LiA at its very best.
We visited a nursery school and feeding programme based at a church, followed by a tasty lunch at the pastor’s house.
We visited the homes we had built four years ago and two years ago.
Taciana was all smiles, looking healthy, happy and content. She is growing corn, bananas and has chickens. She is self-sufficient. On Sundays she worships at the Cathedral. This involves walking for 3 hours; one hour downhill and two hours back home uphill. What faith! What commitment!
Denise could not stop talking about how much she appreciated her home and what it meant for her family. She has a cow, 3 sheep, a pig – all obtained by buying and selling animals. All achieved over the two years. A real business woman. She served us all with cooked corn. She told us we had also helped her to have cataracts removed from both eyes. This involved many round trips to Kigali. ‘I can see now!’ she said.
Having a house built for them has been life-changing for both women.