Sunday, 20 June 2010

They can Take My Home, But they Can't take my Future!

That is the slogan on the banner outside the UNHCR office here in Kigali, commemorating World Refugee Day... which is TODAY!

A day to bring awareness to the world of the plight of over 43 million people who have been forcefully displaced for their home .. as the UNHCR puts it (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)

What is a refugee?

A refugee is a person - man, woman, or child - who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.

We have been to church this morning, been out for brunch at a local coffee shop when on the way home I saw this banner flying, and decided that I needed to write and do my part to bring awareness - but more so to share about our ministry in the Kiziba Refugee Camp here in Rwanda.

My first trip into the Kiziba refugee camp was in April 2003 and we have been going there ever since. In my first visit I listened to the pastors plead with me, to help them learn the Word of God so that someday when they were able to return to their homeland and villages, they would be more learned and able to better bring people to Christ.

Kiziba is home to 20,000 refugees - mostly Congolese. They have been in this camp for over 10 years now, just waiting, hoping, praying that the unrest in Eastern Congo would 'disappear' so they could return home. They live everyday in hope...

In the meantime, I think some incredible things have happened in the camp which we and International Teams have been privileged to be part of.

We have intentionally trained pastors and key church leaders for the past four years and will continue to. The 15 denominations have come together to form a ministerial to work together in ministry in the camp. A HUGE answer to our prayers ... they have understood that they can do more together than individually! (Me walking with some pastors and key leaders in the camp.)

Because the pastors and key leaders came together, the youth have also come together. About three years ago they came to us, speaking of their passion to evangelize and be Jesus hands and feet in the camp... would we fund their projects. NOPE!... but we trained them to develop small business plans challenging them to think how they could tap into the camp economy. They have done that and it's been SO fun to see them realize they didn't need a hand-out, they needed someone to come alongside them and help them.
(Some key youth leaders in the camp.)

They are charging cell phones! (We / International Teams got them a generator and some power bars) Before they would walk 2 hours ONE WAY to charge their phone!

They opened a haircutting salon... or saloon as they call it :-) (We got them equipment)

They realized that when they went to share the Good News of the Gospel in the camp, the people could not hear them because they were SO hungry... so they planted a garden. From the money they earned from the cell phone charging and the hair salon, they bought THEIR OWN seeds and even hired people to work the land!! SWEET!

We just learned last week that they have harvested 400 kg of cabbage, 300kg onions, 250 kg potatoes - ALOT!! and gave the food to the poorest in the camp.

With the money they make, they also pay the rent, buy fuel for the generator AND they have fixed up a couple very dilapidated homes occupied by widows.

PAST cool I tell you!!!

Last year we learned that the education in the camp has changed drastically. LONG story... but the short of it, if a child doesn't pass the National Exam for Grade 6, the UN is finished to pay for their schooling. A kid could have passed grade 6 in school and just not passed the national exam... they are REALLY hard. Done school at 12 years old! (Pray for Prince, he is preparing to write his in October.)

Serge and I were moved by this. Without education, how can one break the cycle of poverty and destitution that they are in? So, we decided we needed to do something about it.

This is our second year to sponsor 19 students in the Kiziba Refugee camp. Not many when you consider the hundreds that are not sponsored BUT these are 19 of the brightest students in the camp who are not on the streets and hence are not being subject to prostitution, drugs. They have a chance, they have hope...

I feel like what I have written really doesn't capture it all... but trust me, God is at work in the camp and we are blessed to be part of it.

If you want to check out more on what the UN says about refugees in Rwanda, check out this link.

I trust that you are moved to be thankful to God for your home, your family, your future... pray for the refugees in our world today, pray for us as we minister to refugees in Rwanda.

Should you want to give financially towards the ministry in Kiziba Camp, go to


Alison Witt said...

So many GREAT stories from Kiziba. Love all the entrepreneurship happening. Here's hoping (and praying) that on next years World Refugee Day there are less refugees in our world than there are today.

Rwanda momma said...

Indeed. May it be so!

Dorah said...

Loved reading this...makes me think...really think...especially about what a big difference can be made when one is bold enough to start with one step at a time. Thanks for sharing....and for being a part of the solution. Much love and blessings!