Today was a crazy day.
I was supposed to be at J.Lynn's all day today as it was Jolies' day off but I didn't make it until about 3:45 pm. Glad to have staff that know what they're doing and can manage life.
As I sorted through the end of the day, Noella asked if she could see me.
All the women have J.Lynns' have stories.... hard life stories.
That is why we exist. To help women whose lives have been hard, and by hard I mean, death, poverty to great to bare on their own, sickness, outcasts of society. Most women have and are dealing with all of the above.
The previous manager had told me about Noella. She was a new widow and just needed a job - somewhere to go each day.
As I heard Noella's story one of the first days, I cried.
She married young to an Italian NGO worker in her homeland of Congo. He made her come to Rwanda during the aftermath of the genocide in 1994 when it spilled over into Congo. (She told me, 'He saved my life.) She and the kids followed him around the world as he was granted one job after another. They lived in affluence but never taking life for granted. She had lost a brother as an RPF soldier and to this day tears come to her eyes when she talks about him.
A few years ago they settled back in Rwanda. Her husband went back to Italy on some business and there he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. She was a widow at 38 years old with two teenage children and no skill except a high school diploma. How would she provide for her family?
As I interviewed her, heard her story, she openly admitted that she had little to give - no computer skills, no degree of any sort - but that she would work hard at whatever I asked her to do. She just needed to belong somewhere and had found that at ABC - now J.Lynn's.
A couple things struck me about Noella... she came from the same region as Serge and we share the same birthday.
When Serge picked me up that night back in late April, my heart was heavy. I had no idea how to best help her but I knew that she was to be in our lives somehow. I asked Serge if he knew the family. When I mentioned the family name, Serge immediately knew the family - ' Who in Goma doesn't know her family?'
Turns out her older brother was best friends with Serge's oldest brother.
Today.. she sat in my office in tears thanking me. School is out for her 16 year old daughter and she came with her to J.Lynn's yesterday.
It's been 13 months since her husband was killed and the year has been hard. The kids worry for their mom. She worries about them. They wonder if she will find something in life to find joy.
She told me today.. 'Thank you for allowing me to work here. Yesterday my daughter saw that I just don't leave the house so they think I am working but that I actually have a job and work. Her heart is at peace for the first time about this. '
One never knows.
I still don't know how we can best help her but I do know this. God has brought her across our path for a reason and we'll stay on the journey together as long as He wants us to.