Tuesday, October 7, 2014


(Originally posted on Sept. 7, 2014)
After being at UCU (Uganda Christian University) for about a week we left for Rwanda on Aug. 29th. We left campus about 5 am since we had about an 18 hour drive to reach our first destination in Rwanda. This trip to Rwanda is a part of one of my classes-Faith and Action in the Uganda Context. This class focuses specifically on promoting and enhancing our cross culture experience while in Uganda. This trip  helped us to gain a better understanding of recent history surrounding Rwanda, including the genocide and current efforts directed towards reconciliation and forgiveness.
Our first stop in Rwanda was the Anglican Church of Rwanda at the Kibungo diocese. Throughout the entire country of Rwanda the last Saturday of every month is set aside as a community workday, called an umuganda. This translates as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’. We had the opportunity to carry water and mix cement to be used to lay a floor in a newly constructed building. The members of this parish were very grateful for our willingness to pitch in, even if that meant getting dirty. I didn’t get very dirty since I was part of a chain to transport water from the holding tank at the bottom of a hill, up to where the cement was being poured.  The next day  (Sun. Aug.31st) we were asked to lead a church service at three rural Anglican churches.  Our contribution included leading worship and providing a message or testimonies. It was an enriching experience to be able to worship with and pray for these Rwandese brothers and sisters in Christ. Communication was hindered a bit due to a language barrier but was  resolved with translations from Kinyarwanda to English.
On Mon. (Sept.1st) we visited a rural community practicing micro-finance methods. These pillars are necessary for the success of a micro- finance project: savings, loans with low interest rates, and a long term focus. Rwandans did not have an understanding of these concepts prior to the genocide. Due to the nature of the genocide poverty increased; individuals were robbed of their property and no longer had as many able-bodied individuals to help out with various income generating activities. Individuals are trained in the practices of saving, and loaning with a long term focus to finance small development projects. The group we observed was made up of 29 members. To become a member, each individual must pay 5,000 Rwandan franks {690 Rwandan franks= 1 US dollar}. Then each week each member is obligated to pay 100 Rwandan franks to the group. This money pools among the members and is used to finance small projects to generate income, such as the means to buy land to farm/garden or livestock. This was very interesting to observe, and is having a powerful impact on numerous lives/families and is assisting in the growth of rural Rwandan communities.
On Sept. 2nd we traveled to the capital of Kigali. We visited an art center, which was interesting to see beauty and growth occurring in the midst of the horrific events of the genocide 20 years ago. The next  day was solely focused on the genocide. This  link provides a brief summary of the genocide (http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/rwanda/education/rwandagenocide.shtml). A period of 100 days in 1994 (April 6th-July4th) about 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus were murdered. Tutsis, Hutu (determined by wealth/land ownership) and Twa were the three classifications given by Germans and Belgiums upon colonization. These identities had been ingrained into their minds and determined rights and privileges. This ignited hate and resentment between the two groups and boiled over in 1994. Healing from the genocide is going to take many years and generations. We visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and Nyamata Church, a memorial site where about 11,000 lives were lost. These memorial sites were hard to handle emotionally but were necessary to provide a understanding of where Rwandans have come from  as well as efforts directed towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
Sept. 3 focused on efforts of reconciliation. The organization CARSA (Christian Action for Reconciliation and Social Assistance) is bringing to together perpretrators and surviving family members for reconciliation and forgiveness to be genuinely achieved. There is something to be said about working alongside an individual responsible for inflicting personal injury and/or killing several members of their families. This was a beautiful to observe and assist in. We carried sand/dirt to make cement down a hill to be used to make cement for a small house addition. The next few days were spent traveling back to Uganda. We spent two days on an island surrounded by beautiful lake to spent time personally and as a group processing and debriefing various aspects of our Rwandan trip. We arrived back to the UCU campus about 6 pm yesterday afternoon. Classes start tomorrow and my internship will start sometime this week as well. (I will receive more information about it in out tomorrow).  I am excited to get into a routine and am a bit nervous about starting internship.
I am sorry for the length of the post but there was a lot to cover from this past week. I am hoping to  post pictures latter this week. Thanks for your continual prayers and interest!

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