Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 9

Sunrise over Kigali
I have been trying to get up at 5:00 am to write each morning, which means I will be tired until I return to Boise next week. We are just so busy each day traveling about the countryside, seeing the many good things Africa New Life is doing, that by the time we return to the guesthouse it is late, and I am exhausted. If you see an increase in typos, well it’s because I’m writing until 10:00 pm and then back at it at 5:00 am and I am not really ever awake. . . I have discovered a pattern, however. The last two mornings when I woke at 5:00 am, there has been no electricity. This morning I got up anyway and thought I would just shower later and write in the dining room in the dark. But when I got there our janitor was mopping. His only light the almost risen sun. We said good morning and then he said was it possible for me to wait ten minutes and he would turn on the generator. So tomorrow, I’ll not be getting up until 5:30 am. Oh, Africa.
This is Rebecca. No, not my Rebecca, but Rebecca who is the nurse at Kageyo. You see in Kageyo, Africa New Life operates two schools and sponsorship programs. One is in Kageyo A, which was established first and has more infrastructure. There are more gardens. There is even a little row of shops. Rebecca serves as the medical provider for this entire community. Her “clinic” consists of a small room with a desk. No consulting table, no electricity most of the day, no assistance. She has one small cabinet filled with medicine and a box of bandages for wound care. Check out more of what the community nurses do here.  I would not be surprised if one day my sweet Rebecca is living this same life.

This is a chart of Kageyo B’s sponsored children. It lists how many children were being sponsored at the beginning of the month and how many were added that month. Some children are dropped from the program, perhaps because they aged out or moved out of the area. You can see that in August, 115 children were waiting for sponsorship.
This chart shows what sponsorship through Africa New Life provides. They do amazing work. Everyone I have met seems to truly love their jobs. The social workers are my favorites, though. Each social worker has in their care about 350 children. They are expected to visit each child’s home once per year, but they see them more often than that at school, at church, and at Center Day. Every Saturday is Center Day at each school where Africa New Life has a presence. 

The sponsored children are required to come to Center Day once each month to write letters to their sponsors. They also receive a meal at Center Day as well as character building. Tomorrow I will attend Center Day here in Kigali. We have been looking forward to this all week. Our favorite things to do here with Africa New Life are to be with the children. It is impossible not to love them. Please consider sponsoring one of these dear children. Sponsorship makes their futures so very bright. It let’s them leave daily hunger behind. It gives them hope.

At Kageyo A, the more established community in Kageyo, Africa New Life has a full time gardener, Theo, whom they sent to Uganda for one year to receive training in organic gardening. 

Here you can see the gardens they grow to feed the school children. They built these raised "keyhole" gardens because the earth is hard like concrete and the raised beds are filled with loose soil. For more information on the gardening program check it out here.

These beautiful children and their huge smiles followed us everywhere. Some are waiting for sponsors. Look at the boy with a soccer ball. He has made this ball out of old rags.
As we drove down the bumpy main street of Kageyo A, we passed several tiny, tiny, shops. I asked if we could please stop and shop. Annette and our driver, looked at me like I had lost my mind. Shop here? But I knew if we shopped here with our money-filled American wallets, we would boost the economy of this little community. And so we stopped. We crowded into the tiny shop which sold everything ever manufactured on the face of the earth (so it seemed). The shopkeeper probably thought we were nuts. 

While we shopped our ever present fan club crushed together at the entrance to see these crazy muzungus. I bought wonderful things, presents for my Boise friends from Africa. But I cannot tell you what I bought for that would ruin the surprise! 

Life has not been kind to these people, but it has been kind to many of us. Sponsoring a child is simply living out the life Jesus asked of me. It is loving others more than myself. It is saying you deserve food, clothing, education, and security as much as my own children deserve those things. The joy these children feel when they learn they have been sponsored is unexplainable. It makes them feel loved. As young as some of them are, they know it means their futures have been changed. It means they have hope.

Rwanda is beautiful, but it does not claim only physical beauty. It’s people, their way of life, their loving way of living in community, it is it’s own higher beauty. And yet there is nothing charming or beautiful about poverty. These sweet children, with the huge smiles and bright eyes, dressed in ragged clothing, yes they are beautiful. Yes they capture our hearts. But let’s not look at this and make poverty into something it isn’t. It isn’t a tourist attraction. It isn’t a great photo on my Facebook page. It is painful. It is scary. Mothers die in childbirth and children die from common colds for lack of medication. Many live each day malnourished. But more than anything material or concrete, poverty means living without hope. Without hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Poverty isn’t charming. But hope is everything, and what we rich muzungus can provide is hope.

Please give these children hope. It’s so easy. Africa New Life Sponsorship Program

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 10

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