Mama Patricia - She is NOT positive for HIV but her husband is. They have three children and live in a small two room mud house. She has been sick for a number of days with a bad headache and dizziness. We went to pay her a visit to encourage her as much as we could. My heart was moved to tears. The only jobs they have a casual labour, meaning they go out - if they are strong enough - to find a construction site job or washing laundry. Their oldest daughter walks 2 hours one way to school each day so they can save 2000 RWF ($3.30) each semester. Their 11 year old son, Pierre is first in his class. But all three kids are about to be chased from school because they can`t pay their school fees. (total per semester $22) They are also three months behind on their rent which is 12,000 RWF ($20 per month)
Claudine, an HIV widow, has three kids of her own plus one that she has adopted into her family. Three years ago, a women from the Ubuzima association died and left 5 children. Claudine took one in. It was incredibly moving to hear her answer my question as to why she did it. The moms were friends. They lived close and helped each other look after their children and each other. She knew that if they had a half kilo of rice for the family to eat, surely they could share that with one more mouth.
`What I know is that Claudine is a vivid example of `doing unto others as you would have them do to you.
About 2.5 years ago, Claudine sent her daughter Nadine to fetch water. She was raped and became pregnant at 14 years of age. She also looks after this little boy as her own.
They are 4 months behind on their rent and the landlord is calling...
|In Claudine`s house|
Alphonsine is a single mother of two boys. She is sick much her life with little energy to work. She lives on the very edges of Kigali so the rent is not so much. The last months have not been easy for her. Her son, Magnificant, had a great fall and has swelling on his brain. Twice they have gone to have the fluid removed. You can see he is a fun, 11 year old kid who loves adventure as he smiles shyly to each of us. He`s holding onto the casing of a matchbox car - the wheels and insides are gone but he still has the body - and it`s his treasured possession. `
Besides the hospital and doctor bills, she too is behind in her rent and is not sure where they are doing to get food.
The team leader, Kendal, was our intern last year. As we sit in Alphonsine`s home, she shares about visiting Alphonsine last year. Alphonsine had cooked her the last food she had in the house. Kendal told her that she didn`t want to eat as she wanted to be sure the kids had food. Alphonsine`s response...`Doesn`t God look after the birds of the air? He will look after us too.`
Needless to say, the day left the team in deep thought and wrestling with themselves and God.
For me... the dream of having land, building houses - a community, to bring these and other women and families just like them together so they can support and encourage one another. That they can be in peace that if they died, their children would be looked after. They could grow food, learn skills easily, be literate, etc, etc, etc. God knows the dream and we wait. In the meantime, Serge and I will continue to do everything we can to bring sustainability to Ubuzima so they can earn money to support themselves. We have a long way to go but we know that God is faithful.