Fun at the Rescue Home
In order of increasing height, we are Davina, Zoe, Ishimwe, Roger & Anne.
Improved Financial Management
We are so blessed by all the donations and emails that we receive. We want you to be able to see how we use the money entrusted to us.
This is a cash-only economy and the currency in the Rwandan Franc. We convert on the ratio 570RwF to US$1. Everything we spend locally is now being recorded in our spending blog.
You can also monitor our overall monthly cash flow. January was an expensive month because it was the new school semester and we have ten children in school, plus the 20 Kabuga Parish students. Nevertheless, we were able to pay all bills.
New sponsorships started
We featured Jocelyn in last month's blog. We were amazed to hear from Oretta Rodriguez within minutes saying she was very moved by Jocelyn's story and she wanted sponsor Jocelyn.
Life looking up for Bonfils
The twins get a sponsor
We have been covering our expenses by taking money from the general fund, but we were very excited when earlier this month Richard & Pam Chavez began sponsoring them. We realize that two children is quite a commitment and after all, it'll be a long time before they grow up.
Before we received them, they had been badly neglected nutritionally and they took along time to laugh or even smile. They were starving and used to pull whatever food or drink we were serving them out of our hands to their mouths. Our nanny tells us that she had to be careful at mealtimes so that they did not over eat. It was difficult because they wanted more and more.
They are their own persons and it shows in different ways. Kwizera is confident, vocal and stubborn. She knows how to count a little bit in English and she does it at the top of her voice regardless of who is around. On the other hand, Hope is quieter, less confident, and seems amused by everyone around her. They both have changed for the better since being with us.
The Rescue Home is set in a good-sized compound where we grow a few crops. We have a full-time gardener whose name is Iyamuremye. In addition to keeping the lawns nice for playing on, he also grows vegetables and fruit. The first video shows Judith picking garlic and a spinach-like vegetable called Dodo. The second is Iyamuremye cutting down a huge bunch of plantains which is our main carbohydrate staple. Apart from being inexpensive, all our food is organic
We had a very nice long weekend break in Uganda. Just the two of us. We are planning to set up a fish farm in Rwanda and the main purpose of our trip to Uganda was to visit existing fish farms and do some research. We stayed in Entebbe and Kampala and got to see many interesting people and places. Faith met up with an old college friend whom she hadn't seen for years. In comparison to Rwanda, Uganda seems like a place where you can buy stuff. Next time we go, we'll take an empty suitcase.
The bigger children have all gone back to school now, so we had a few of the preschoolers stay with us in Kigali. The video below shows Faith developing their concentration with bean bags. From the left, they are Christian, Gihungu, Bonfils, Irumva, Davina & Kwizera. Davina is financially supported by Helen Dana. Bonfils is 6 but has only just joined us and we have not yet figured out what to do about his schooling. They are all cute most of the time, but as any parent knows, they can also be a headache. One of them drove one of us to consider extreme measures (I'm being deliberately vague), but the moment passed and nobody died. We read stories, played inside games and outside games. We did counting, coloring and English. We learned a lot about being well-mannered and considerate of one another.
One of the big refugee camps in Goma (5000 people, 1 latrine, no feeding station) has been shut down and the refugees scattered. My friend Steve invited me to help provide some relief with him. On Feb 19th I bought a backpack full of baby formula and took a 3 hour bus ride to the border, followed by a hair raising motor cycle ride to the camp. It's a really harsh place. Barren, built on rough chunks of lava rock and swelteringly hot. I wore hiking boots, but the refugees were wearing flip flops or less. Families have been forced out of their villages by civil war and live here in lawless squalor.
This was just about the worst place I have ever been. However my motivation for going was to show Christ's love in the midst of suffering. I realized that at the end of the day our work was a drop in the ocean, but that's what we did.
Back in 2007 we decided to find sponsors for 20 children who desperately wanted to go to school, but were not currently attending due lack of money. Here are the profiles as of 3 years ago http://www.ishimwe.org/kabuga-kids-profiles.html
Several friends have sponsored some of these children and we have been faithfully sending money to Pastor Felicien. However, now that we are here we are dealing with the children directly. Four have graduated. Two have been added to the program. Some are doing well and others are dragging. They attend a variety of schools, some cheap, some expensive. Understanding all these confusing details has been hard work and we are along way from being done. We decided to give notice on the poor performers. This became harder to do than to say because some of them are used as servants in the homes where they live and are forced to do chores all the time they are not in school. Also, a lack of electric light can be an issue. This time around, we paid for everybody, but in future we are going to contact the schools directly for verification and payment. Despite these difficulties, seeing these children getting a break is tremendously rewarding. Without support, they will not get educated at all and the cycle of abject poverty will continue. Costs vary, but a typical rough estimate to cover tuition fees, uniform, shoes, transport and exam fees is $30/month (up from $20 when we first started).
Meet Bonfils. He is probably 6 years old & his parents died. His aunt reluctantly took him in, but as far as we can tell, she did not show him any love. Her husband insisted she get rid of the child, so she gave the boy his identification papers and sent him to Judith who was attending a church service. Judith was concerned for the child and she tracked down and confronted his aunt. The aunt said in front of the boy that she didn't want him back on any terms. We were left holding the baby and were unsure how to proceed. Having a living aunt meant he wasn't fully orphaned, but she was proving to be an unsuitable mother figure. Judith kept Bonfils outside of the Rescue Home for a few days, but then he said to her "You don't want me either do you?" This was our cracking point, and we decided to take him in and have his aunt sign guardianship over to us. Once this was decided, we appeared on the scene to reassure that we will love him and keep him. He seems to be very gentle, following us around and relishing being hugged and picked up, although he speaks very quietly. Now we are looking for a sponsor for him. The basics, such as food, clothing and staff wages average out at $50/month per child. If you are interested, please let us know.
The school year runs February to December. We have 10 school age children and we’ve just come through the biggest back-to-school program we’ve ever done. So many uniforms and books! We bought 80 exercise books, then had to go back for more (they each have at least one exercise book per subject). A couple of the children are set to repeat a year, but now we are here, we will provide more after-school academic support & encouragement for them in future.