In April, 1994 a genocide started in
Rwanda. Throughout the following 90 days approximately 800,000 people were killed, all because they belonged to the minority tribe. A Rwandese man that I’m now good friends with is alive only because when challenged he pulled his student ID out of his pocket, instead of the government ID that would've identified his tribe and led to his immediate execution. Thirty members of his family were killed - many while his mother watched. She's still alive. He now preaches forgiveness.
Several years ago another genocide survivor and now Rwandese friend of mine, Pastor Simon Pierre, answered God's call to care for orphans. He started the Ndengera foundation in
Rwanda. What started as a child-sponsorship program quickly grew into a plan for much more - to see the Ndengera foundation be self-sustaining and lead hundreds of orphans to a successful future and eternity in heaven. When the opportunity came I had to get on board!
Rwanda is a beautiful, tropical country. The people there celebrate life and relationships in a way that is not easy to explain, but awesome to experience! I think it comes from a unique experience of surviving 90 days in Hell, stripped of everything but the realization of what is really significant in life, and after.
My first trip to
Rwanda was in June, 2010. Despite the absence of electricity and clean water at the Ndengera foundation site, a lot was happening. A school and medical clinic were being constructed, and several acres of farmland were being harvested. Our team, comprised of medical staff, construction workers, and a postal worker (me) were there to help build the school and open the clinic. My trip included being immersed in
Rwanda's amazing culture, delivering goats to families caring for orphans, assisting with the food program, helping however I could in the clinic and attending Ndengera’s first graduation ceremony. It was an incredibly unique experience to attend a ceremony where many of the graduate’s futures were not just bright, but even possible! A girl at the top of the sewing class was given a manual sewing machine (with table), and cheerfully carried the heavy load several miles back to her home.
After our 2010 trip the school continued to expand and include courses in construction, sewing, auto repair and computers. The school has been very successful - so much that the
Rwanda military and other
Rwanda foundations are sending students there! More farm land was purchased, a fresh-water well was drilled and solar panels were installed. Power lines just arived! The medical clinic received government certification to treat insured patients, and found its niche treating women since we sent a portable ultrasound and cervical cancer screening machine there. Cervical cancer is a leading killer of women in
Eight of us returned to
Rwanda in April, 2012. The doctors on our team taught a Rwandan doctor to perform vasectomies, and the rest of us steered clear of them and worked on other projects. My personal project was leading a team to build a 20,000 liter re-circulating fish farm that will produce 300 pounds of fish every month! We also planted an apple orchard, installed power-saving LED lights in the clinic and delivered more goats to families in need.
One of my blog entries (lbnaz.org/rwanda) summed it up, "…When we arrived we saw a child in a school uniform, crying and being spanked by his mother. Simon translated the situation, ‘The mother is telling the child to go to school, but the child is saying he's hungry. He hasn't eaten for a day. That's a problem. These goats will help change that. By the end of the year there will be baby goats, and they will be sold to pay for food and the children's school’. I could only imagine that the mother probably wanted to hold her son and cry with him, tell him she was so sorry there wasn't enough food, and everything was going to be okay. But no, she knows their way out of this situation is not tears.”
There were many children there that day. He was the only one I saw in a school uniform. The family’s future may be dependent on him, made more possible by a goat. That’s something I can never again turn away from.
If you're interested in being a hero to a child by giving or becoming involved, please contact us...
Liberty Bible Church
12401 NE Salmon Creek Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98686