Thursday, 26 August 2010

Dowry Paid!

Last Saturday, Alain Sano who works with us here in Kigali gave one cow for Delphine. Yes, the dowry system is still alive and well here.

We travelled 2.5 hours south of Kigali to Butare with the short-term team from Philpott Church (Hamilton, ON) and they enjoyed the cultural event. Always fun to take visitors to dowry and wedding ceremonies here.

Muzugus ready for the ceremony in traditional mishananas
Alain and Delphine
The entourage of the bride
September 4th is their wedding!

Friday, 20 August 2010

And They're Out...

Nshuti, Mosquito and Uwimana were released yesterday afternoon.

Saw them at the day camp for street kids today. 

Didn`t know what to do with them! ARG!!
I know Serge had a GOOD chat with them. All they could tell me was `Sorry Mommy. Please forgive me.`

Of course we can forgive, but are they repentant?

We will see what the next days and weeks bring. Third semester of school has just started so it remains to be seen how they will finish out the school year.

In the meantime... may God help us make the right decisions with them.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Three in Jail


Probably the most deflating, discouraging, disheartening... you get the picture... thing that happens here is getting a phone call to let us know that one our kids who calls the street their home is in jail. 

They are often picked up by the local police for just hanging out somewhere, for really not doing anything wrong. We then go to the police, tell them who we are and plead heir case. We vouch for them, saying that they are being cared for, they are seeking to change their life and we are investing in them to give them every opportunity for that to happen. We DO want the transformation to happen on all levels.

Well, last night... Serge got a phone call as we were on our way to bed. THREE of our kids were picked. Three of our core kids. ARG!!! Nshuti, Mosquito (yes, that is his name!) and Uwimana.

SO sad for us. Double sad actually because they were misbehaving - gambling. ARG!!!

Nshuti has come so far - came to us when he was like 14 years old, didn't even know how to hold a pencil, we taught him to write and do basic math and he started school in grade 2! He did great the first couple of years and was always the top of his class. This past year, he hasn't been doing great.... making some bad choices. Is this the end of his rope?

Mosquito - lives with his sisters in a child headed household, in school... doing well, or so we thought. ARG!

Uwimana - one of the first street kids I got to know. He was one of four kids who hung out at a gas station and most every time I fuelled my car, I bought them milk. When we had an opened another house, we asked them all to come off the street and Uwimana was the only one to come. He lasted about a year. The pull of his friends was too strong. He's about 11 years old.

Today, Nshuti's house mom, Mama Bridgette, went to plead their case after Serge said they could sit it out in jail overnight to think life over.
They were to be released this afternoon but they weren't.
We'll see what tomorrow holds.

Pray that we have wisdom with this one! We love these kids and it about kills us to see them messing up like this...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

They Have my Business!

I love stuff like this.

Serge had told me about little co-operative selling fruits and vegetables on 'our corner', ie. the corner with lots of little shops to buy stuff close to our house.

Last night, I got to experience it.

Life is more than busy these days and I have not been to the market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables since last week and the fridge was EMPTY! As Serge was getting fuel, Isabella and I ran across the parking lot to this little co-operative.

It's marked by a big hand painted sign indicating that fruits and vegetables are for sale down an alley between two buildings.

The doorway was cluttered with women - women who used to walk the streets of Kigali with baskets of fresh produce on their heads trying to sell something so they could feed their family for the day.

I used to buy from these very women and it was great to be welcomed as a recognized customer - even though it was my first time to their little shop.

Everyday, women roam the streets of Kigali trying to sell something so they can provide shelter, food and clothes for their family. Education is a dream for most of them. It's illegal for people to sell goods on the streets and I often seem them chased by the police, even caught sometimes. I know that it's probably not good that I participate is something illegal by buying from them but my heart of compassion for these women is bigger I think.

Many nights we have come home late from a wedding or something and make a quick stop for milk and bread and for sure, more than one woman will be out, 11pm or later at night, with a baby on her back, still trying to sell something that day.

This is when I want to win the lottery and then go around and pay double for everything on someones head in the city. (Guess it would help if I actually played the lottery but I can dream right!?

Intern Danika and Maman Deborah selecting some fruit before they visit someone with HIV/AIDS.

What thrills my heart is that some women got together and decided that they can do more together than individually. Very forward thinking of them! They have great produce. Even my house girl, Solange, was impressed by the quality of the various fruits and tomatoes I bought.

What I know is... they have my business!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Makes me MAD!!

Today is Tuesday, August 10 - day after the elections here in Rwanda.

My house is quiet this morning as I'm sitting here at my computer supposed to be doing financial reports but... I need to see what the world has said about yesterdays elections here in Rwanda.

What I know is that Paul Kagame has won with 92% with the other three parties dividing the rest of the votes. At least that is what Prince told me was announced on the TV this morning.

I know that I went to bed just after midnight and the city was alive with parties everywhere... I heard the vuvuzela's (and the World Cup thought they have them all!) and I was woken up by the fireworks at 4:30am this morning! Today was declared a holiday (I love Rwanda!)

I also know that many polling stations closed by mid morning because all the registered voters for that district had already cast their ballot. (Canada or the US only dreams of this!!) Serge left the house just before 6am and was 12th in line to vote at our polling station.. then he came home and crawled back into bed! :-)

I haven't heard of any violence or any unrest in the country at all.

I also know that at about midnight the President and his entire family went to Amahoro Stadium where it was PACKED!!! to celebrate. Serge said that he turned the TV off about 1am and left the First Lady and kids on that football field celebrating by leading everyone in the Electric Slide dance... it's her favourite!

So what you ask, makes me mad??!!!

WELL... let me tell you. Warning.. a 'Jen' Rant comin' on!

So... I check CBC, just to see what my own country is saying about the election here. After some digging I find a 7 sentence story which predicted Kagame's win but also stated, and I quote,
'Analysts said Kagame faced no real competition. Some opposition parties were barred from participating, and the pre-election period was marred by crackdowns on opposition figures and media'.

I then go to BBC. And after some digging I find a little story and a media clip. It's the media clip that makes me MAD! The journalist stated that some parties were not allowed to run due to differing views of Kagame's party and were arrested upon arrival and others were blocked from registering. And that is ALL he says... AH!!!

WHY were they arrested?

Blows my mind how some journalists and others in the west, looking in on Rwanda and Africa can be so arrogant and misleading some times!

So, Kagame is just to allow people who landed in Kigali and in their first news conference at the airport announced that their party had come back to 'finish the job'... implying the genocide????

Seriously people!!!! You would think that this `tidbit`of information would be important somehow. Or does one really not know what genocide is or the causes of it?

So Human Rights and whoever else who most likely knows nothing of what it is to be a genocide survivor or oppressed in whatever way can just say that there was no real opposition and that Rwandan people are oppressed??

Did I say this makes me mad???

The genocide ended 16 years ago because the RPF, lead by Paul Kagame and others came and fought in a land which their parents had fled, felt oppressed in or had never even entered before. The genocide did not end because the west put a stop to it. The west was still tying the hands of the UN mission here and still arguing over what name to call the mission of the soldiers they were releasing to come and help fight against the killers. 

What has happened in this country since the end of the genocide in July 1994 is incredibly remarkable. I don`t think there is another country in the world that has recovered from anything like this in such a short period of time - socially, economically, development in all areas really.

So.. how dare the west, point fingers and tell an African leader or country how they should run it... especially when the cause of the genocide was colonization from the west!


Okay.. I`m done.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Plans are submitted and the House is almost finished!

Serge was out in Nyamirama again the other day and FINALLY dropped the master plans for the Nyamirama Training Centre. A very momentous day for us. It's been a long time coming. Now we wait to see if they are approved. The initial reaction was very positive... but we wait.

He also got some updated pictures on Veronic's house. It's coming... slowly but surely.

Life has been busy there... it's election campaign time and the president is using our land to hold a rally... TOMORROW!! So, lots of work to get it ready, not that we had to do lots but we did have to tear down the office / storage place we had built on the land. Definitely a bit of an ARG!! but that is life in Rwanda. Serge is just hoping and praying that they don't ruin the fence.

God thing... Serge met the head of the army in the Eastern Province while he was there.. and he knows the guy!

Serge showed him the master plan and he was very impressed with them. Serge also showed him the house that we are just finishing for Veronic and he was also impressed with that. He then asked if we were going to build a house for the other lady just down the road as well.
Serge told the army dude and Andre, the sector chief, that if they do the bricks, we'll supply the iron sheets and cement. We'll see what comes of it. Hope something does as the lady needs a house!

Couldn't help but think of the contrast...
My mom in Canada just moved this past weekend into a new home which she had built. From the pictures I have seen and from what people have said, it's beautiful. She spent months picking colours and new furniture. I gave her a hard time that she got a dishwasher. All of us kids wanted one when we were growing up, but the famous line always was...'I already have three.'
What a contrast... same world, same need for shelter, ... but so not the same.

Veronic's house today

Front porch - place to find shelter in the rain

Cemented floors! No more dirt!

Her kitchen... still the mud plaster and then the cement plaster to go