Mike and were in different places during the genocide memorial week. He really wanted to work with the Hagari ministries kids camp again, so he spent the afternoons all week planning, teaching, and playing games with aroud 100 kids. These are kids that are regularly involved with Hagari ministries, and many of them are able to attend school because of sponsors through this ministry.
I felt like it was important to be in our new home during this time, even if I don’t know very many people. I am really glad I did.
On the first morning I was back in Ryabega, I met Sam on my way to buy groceries at the larger centre. Sam is someone who has been helping the project from its beginning: he is a man who is resourceful, kind, well-connected, ready to help, and a leader in this community. He told me that he had just been to visit a genocide survivor who had moved to this community. She felt safe here because it is mostly a community of people who fled the country to Uganda at various times, and returned in the mid-90’s. These were not genocide perpetrators. She had no money and no family to take care of her. An older lady had taken her into her house to live with her, but now she was experiencing old wounds (from the genocide) flaring up, and had no health insurance or money to go to the hospital. Now, I haven’t entirely got the health system here figured out, but I do know this: you can get health insurance for $5/year, and that entitles you to at least basic services.
Sam flagged down a bus for me at this time, so I went to get what I needed, but it stuck with me. I called Sam when I got back and said I wanted to talk more (and of course, he came immediately from what he had been doing). I asked him for some advice, and he said, “she needs health insurance so she can go to the hospital, and we should go visit.” So we did. Through Sam, I gave them some money for health care and a little food. We also had a really awkward visit, as Sam explained things alternately in English and Kinyarwanda. I keep reminding myself that these visits are important in this culture, even though they feel very strange and uncomfortable to me.
Sam asked if I was attending the community meetings, as if the answer would be “of course.” (Throughout the week, everything shuts down in the afternoon and people meet in their communities to hear the history and testimonies of the genocide. It is a time to remember and grieve together; and to support those who need it.) I have been interested in going to these meetings, but always felt that I would be an intruder. So I asked Amiss (our housemate) if I could/should go with him, and he seemed to think it was a good idea. I went to a couple with Amiss, and at the end of the week most of our team went to the muchlarger community gathering with Sam. He introduced us publicly, explained that we were not there as spectators, but to show our support, and spoke a little about what we are planning to do.
I was really thankful for this opportunity to be with the community; to show support, and to learn more about the people we are working with.