This blog is about Saturday.
In the morning, a group of us went to work on the house again. There was a bit less nail banging and mud throwing, as the work centred more on technical things like fixing a lock on the main door. The ingenuity of the men with very limited tools was quite amazing. Imagine tightening a screw with the blade of a small machete! We had bought shoes for each of the workers and these were gratefully received. We entertained the children with games and activities which they really enjoyed.
The main part of the day was Congo based. We welcomed four pastors from Bukavu, the town in the Congo which we can see across Lake Kivu. These are men whom Claude has known and worked with since his first visit to Congo in 2010.
They had lunch with us; then we presented them with a total of 14 boxes of filters – enough to provide safe drinking water to 7000 people plus 14 African Bible Commentaries each, 2 suitcases containing sheets, towels, toothpaste and brushes, reading glasses and men’s shirts.
They were thrilled with all these things but their greatest delight came when we gave them a laptop each. They whooped with joy! (Se photo) The generosity of people back home has been such that we found we could afford to buy these bargain laptops and they are clearly going to meet a need and be treasured. They were last lminute purchases, but inspired choices.
The transfer of all these things to their waiting cars at the border was something to behold. Here’s a picture of Debbie at the front leading the transfer of boxes from the coach.
One of the pastors had travelled 800 miles to come here, such was his determination to meet us! He will have a lot to take home! He is pictured above with Heather, Ethne and me. He really wanted this photo taken, the moment was so important to him. We shall email it to him!
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!
We are building a house for Denise, a genocide widow with 5 children in all, some fostered. The climb up to her house was long and steep. It challenged our fitness somewhat especially as we are at about 3000ft. We met Denise and the workers and held a simple dedication service asking God’s blessing on our endeavours. The men had already started on the house but we soon got stuck in – nailing battens to posts, mixing mud and grass, throwing heavy mud balls to create the first wall. Denise came along and joined us in making up the mud walls – it was a special moment working alongside her. We discovered some great building talent among the newcomers to the group. There’s a special photo of them below. Altogether a very productive morning!
The house so far
In the afternoon, we were taken on an orientation tour of the area, including a visit to the health clinic run by the diocese. This had a maternity unit where we met a mother with her very new born baby. The very very basic provision here reminded us of what we take for granted back home.
More house building today!
We had a very good journey down using a different route from the one we have used before. The idea was to drive to Kibuye a town on the shores of Lake Kivu and then take a boat down to Kamembe. But we found out that the boat was not operating that day! But the whole drive was just beautiful, with the stunning hilly scenery unfolding bend after bend in the road – and there were lots of bends. Here is a photo taken while we were driving along.
On the way we stopped for a picnic. No lay-bys on this road so we found a flat bit of rough ground. Within minutes, children arrived and then some adults. We never know where they come from, but they always do. Anyway, we had food left over and our driver distributed this amongst them.
This is the view looking westwards from Peace Guest House at sunset .
This morning we went to the church Jonathan Lamb normally attends. Some of you will remember Jonathan from his visits to Blakeney. He is ‘Our man in Rwanda’ and has done all the co-ordination for us over here.
We went to the second of three identical services which take place at 8, 10 and 12. The building was large in a complex where cars could be easily accommodated and there was even a ‘drop-off point’.
There would have been possibly 500 at ours! Three screens showed all the words of the songs and also of the scripture references being used in the sermon. There was a music group of 12 singers, all with microphones plus 2 large key boards and a drum set!
The technology was amazing with audio-visuals of the announcements, like ads on TV. The sermon was excellent – we could follow all 45 minutes of it!
Here we are, 20 minutes early, waiting for others to arrive.
Jonathan made a good point when said that this was Kigali – very westernised – and a strong contrast to the much poorer part of Rwanda where we shall be working.
This evening we had our farewell dinner with some special guests – Jean Gakwandi, the founder of Solace Ministries, and his wife, Charles and his wife Juliette. Charles was our guide on our first trip and there is a real bond of friendship between us. It was a lovely and quite moving experience to spend this special time with them.
Tomorrow, we set off for Kamembe and that’s when the work starts!