I think most of you have heard by now that we are planning to come back to Rwanda after visiting friends and family in Canada for a few months! We are excited to return to this land and looking forward to a new project. The people we have been working with have been very affirming and encouraging as we prepare to say goodbye for a time: it has helped us see that we have had an impact here.
Originally, we had hoped to move to (U)Mutara and work with a Dutch couple that had many years experience in missions and had lived in Rwanda for several years. However, they were forced to leave Rwanda suddenly due to health issues almost 2 years ago. So when we planned to come to Kigali, we prayed that sometime during this first year, the Lord would send someone so we could be a team heading to Mutara together.
We were quite surprised when 2 couples from Europe arrived the second week we were here and announced their intentions to come back and work on the Mutara project! (One couple arrived last month, and the second couple will be arriving in January with their children… Click on the links to learn more about them – one site is in Norwegian but they told us Google translate does a pretty good job!)
In addition, a Rwandan couple who got married last December and then took part in the DTS beginning in January will also join us. We have seen their practical skills and value, and could go on and on about what they will bring to the team (translation, health care skills, cultural advice, counselling skills, ability/desire to serve, wisdom, experience working with people with HIV/AIDS, etc, etc), but we are so thankful because they have also become very good friends in the last year.
We are working on a name and an official description of what we will be doing. YWAM has already purchased the land, drilled a well, and installed pipe up to water holding tanks. Originally the plans were for a kind of children’s village, but with the changing laws where the government wants to have each child in a home, that has become impossible. A broad heading for what we are hoping to accomplish there is community development. One of the first tangible things to be established will be a health clinic. (Anne is a trained nurse, and Amiss has some primary health care training.) We are planning to work on some agriculture techniques, natural medicine training, and some small business opportunities particularly arising out of that. (I hesitate to say natural medicine because of what it means in the west, but some of the main things for this project include simple nutrition and sanitation, alternative malaria treatments/malaria prevention & lessening the overuse/abuse of antibiotics.) We are planning to do some programs for youth and young adults, and to eventually start a preschool. Once somewhat established in the community, we are hoping to do some training in parenting (the idea of being involved in your child’s development is new here: kids are left with a low level even of supervision, and beating them is the common way to communicate that the child has made a mistake). We also want to remember that the project was started to see the lonely in families, and so we want to identify ways to help the most vulnerable children both directly (ie, through food aid and seeing orphans placed in families) and indirectly (ie, through parenting, nutrition, & medical education for the community in general) in co-operation with the new laws.
As a team, we have many big ideas, and we are looking forward to seeing them in practice!