Rwanda Journey – Day 5
Tuesday in Rwanda
Rwandan Factoid: 58% of Rwandans are under the age of 25
It’s hard to believe that so much has happened in such a short time! At the end of each day I feel that I have reached the climax of the journey and everything will be downhill from here. And each time I am proved wrong.
This morning started with a breakfast meeting with Harriet Hill who is one of the founders of the Trauma Healing Institute. She told us about the genesis of the program and how it has been working. Rather than try to summarize her comments, I captured them on video. This video will give you a better understanding of this program and its impact.
After breakfast we went to the current building occupied by the Bible Society of Rwanda (BSR). Their General Secretary could not be there because he, along with the leaders of 24 other Bible Societies, is in Rome to talk with Catholic officials about future partnering plans. We got to meet all the staff as well as four translators who represented such diverse denominational backgrounds as Anglican, Roman Catholic, Quakers and Seventh Day Adventists. We were promised that we would be taken to the property purchased by the Bible Society to house a new office, conference centre, warehouse and hotel. We were told that a Rwandan tradition is for partners in an enterprise to plant a tree together. There are now five trees planted on this property by the Canadian Bible Society. We now have roots in Rwandan soil.
I have been doing a lot of talking so I think it is time for another voice. Reg Graves is also on the journey and here are his thoughts on the next part of our day.
“We proceeded to see the Good Samaritan Project first hand. We met 25 volunteers who operate the program and heard of their involvement in the hospital where they cook food, give support to HIV/AIDS patients, and care for the families.
“And then the rubber hit the road. We went to the hospital and saw where the food was being prepared, then to the rooms and served the food to the patients. There is no way I can put into words what we saw at the hospital. We toured the neonatal department where there were six single beds crowded into a very small room; this is where the mothers stay around the clock until their premature babies are strong enough to go home. We saw twin babies as well as others with medical issues, cramped into small support machines. The condition would never meet the health standards in Canada. We then went to the pediatric room where once again we saw young children, some extremely and some deathly ill, being held by their mothers. The doctor who showed us around shared the great need for more advanced hospital equipment.
“We proceeded to the women’s internal medicine ward where it is equally crowded with thin torn mattresses and extremely hot; here we saw people dying of AIDS. We served them their noon meal and then went also to the men’s internal medicine ward where we did the same. Many of these men were dying of AIDS as well. They allowed us to take pictures and these pictures speak a thousand words. We were then hosted for lunch by the local Catholic priest who serves as Vice Chairman of the Bible Society of Rwanda. It was my first time to eat goat kabobs and fried bananas. They didn’t tell us what the meat was until after we ate it, which is a good thing.”
There was another event at the hospital that caught our attention. The British and Foreign Bible Society had donated money to the BSR to buy a cow for the hospital under the Good Samaritan project. The milk from this cow will be used to help feed the patients at the hospital.
We had a couple of startling reminders of the reality of the genocide. While at the office of the Bible Society of Rwanda, we saw pictures of Bible Society staff that had been killed. At the hospital we saw a memorial for the Presbyterian pastors who had also been killed. The Pastors and Bible Society staff made it very personal to me.
Reg mentioned the local Catholic priest who serves as the BSR’s Vice Chairman. After lunch, he took us to see the school they operate. There are over 1,200 students and 40 teachers. I continue to be amazed at the beauty of Rwandan children. (Just look at these photos!) We asked how the children got to school and how far they had to go. Some of them live as far as 5 kms from school and there are no school buses. They walk. Some children have to walk about 2 hours a day for their education.
On our way back to Kigali we encountered our first traffic jam of the journey. We stopped going down a hill behind a long line of traffic. No one was coming up the hill in the other lane. We were just parked there. We finally found out that a large truck had gone off the road and a tow truck trying to pull it out of the ditch had stopped the traffic. It made me think about traffic at 5:00 p.m. in Saskatoon.
More about our journey to come tomorrow.
Day 6 Blog
Follow CBS team’s journey. Follow this journey. Read Rwanda Journey – Day 6..
CBS in Rwanda
Follow our team’s journey through this series of blogposts. Read about their travel from Day 1 to Day 7
Please continue to pray for the staff of the Bible Society in Rwanda, their partners and the thousands of people reached by the programs, She’s My Sister and Where is the Good Samaritan?.