Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Abigail and Refugees

My heart has been greatly saddened and moved many times over in the last week as the lives of refugees has become front and central in the news and around our dinner table discussions. 

Last Wednesday, I was reading on my FB feed and came across the following from Abigail, an American 19 year old.

Refugees are PEOPLE. I think that is something incredibly important to remember right now. If you have an issue with Donald Trump's executive order to indefinitely block Syrian refugees as well as temporary halt all other refugees, please call your representatives. I know I will be calling mine. 

Abigail is a former short-term team member to Rwanda and I know that the experience here in Rwanda impacted her greatly and has helped shape who she continues to become. 
I was blessed by her passion - by her determination, to do what she can do to make this world a better place. I wrote her and told her so and asked for her to give me a little rundown as to what got me to where she is now ... and where she's headed. 
Abigail with refugee children in IL

So I started to get involved with the refugee community when I entered high school. Our church had a program where refugees could be tutored in English while their kids were watched. I, with my youth group, took over the task of watching the kids. This involved helping with homework, snacks and games. I did this all throughout high school....

My perspective on refugees really changed through after our trip to Rwanda. It gave me a real view of what refugees daily life consists of. I was horrified that some people could live their entire life without knowing what goes on in a refugee camp, how small their living conditions are and food rations.

I knew from then on that I wanted to get involved with refugees in my future career. 

So currently I am at the University of Dayton studying political science with a minor in international relations. Last semester I worked as a fellow for the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

I also just accepted a scholarship for a 9 week program in Malawi this summer to do research with a Malawi student. i will be researching the impact of direct support of government institutions (schools, hospitals, etc.) in the Chilumba catchment area. So pretty much looking at the service delivery of government and compare that to private and NGO delivery in a number of areas (health, education, agriculture support, etc.) I leave mid May and am so excited to go back to Africa! Currently I have my eyes set on working for the State Department or the UN, but I have a few more years to figure that out so who knows. 

As you can see, just interacting with refugees has really shaped my life.

And that right there, is why we host short - term teams!
We always pray that their time spent with us with change how they think, how they view the world, how they interact with people and what they do with their life.  

Looking forward to seeing where Abigail's journey continues!

Abigail in Kiziba Refugee Camp

Saturday, 28 January 2017

I love my Washing Machine

I do enjoy FaceBook most of the time. What is great for me is that I get to keep up with friends from around the world and keep a bit up to date as to what is happening in their lives. 
It also give me some memories which I also enjoy being reminded of. 

Today, 6 years ago, I got my first washing machine. 
Prince would have been 15, Isabella 4 and Beni 1 year. 

I remember well, our workers watching the machine (front load), in amazement as the clothes cycled through. Also remember them saying..'Why haven't you had one of these before!' 

What they were thinking about was all HOURS spent each week washing our clothes - and diapers. And when their was no water, they had to haul 20 litre jerry cans of water from the closest place they could find and then wash the clothes. 

I did a load of laundry the other morning and I remember saying a quick prayer of thanks to God for the machine and how well it has served us all these years. Sure I always have to check if we have enough water in the tank to do laundry and there are days and sometimes weeks that it's not possible BUT let me tell you... when the tank is a good 3/4 full - the laundry is getting done... as long as there is electricity :-) 

I've got laundry piles waiting ... and I'm hoping for tomorrow!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Oh Rwandan Child!

Just a shameless plug for 'the first of it's kind' book. 

I've purchased three for each of my kids. 
I know it's only available on Amazon as a download (for those living outside of Rwanda) ... 
but if you have kids and are interested in Rwanda - DO IT! 
Or just do it to support literature and reading in Rwanda. 

If you want a hard copy, just message me and we can sort it! 

AND they have just released this new one 'ABC's of Rwanda' - a few days ago. 
Can't wait to pick them up as well for each of our kids.

This is SO exciting! Relevant books for my kids - even if they already know their ABC's. 

Can't wait to see what books they come up with next to promote literacy, writing and reading in Rwanda. 
Maybe Isabella will publish a book with them someday...

Check out their website if you're interested. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Buying #$%&

There are things that happen in life that you can't believe you're actually doing. 
Yesterday was one such instance. 

I paid to have %*&# hauled into my garden. 

PAID for #*%@ - kaka, manure, cow poop - whatever you want to call it!!!!
(I grew up on a dairy farm so... it is what it is people!)

It hit me as I paid $20 for seven wheelbarrows of the stuff brought in, that as a farm girl, I never dreamed I'd need to pay for it one day. 

Beni keeping up with Sigisi

Next it's the planting. 
Hope it's good cow poop!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

To Be Known...

All of us want to be known. 
We want to be known by our name. 
When someone - people - know our name, it tells us that we belong - that we matter.

I was reminded of that yesterday as I was driving to pick Beni from school. 
I was lost in thought. 
(I miss playing the radio... I am so over Voice of America...)
As I slowed to go over a speed bump, I heard my name. 
Beside the road, waiting to cross, was a young gentleman whom I met years ago. 
He translated for us once upon a time. 
He smiled and waved.

As I drove away, I smiled and my heart was deeply content as I was reminded once again that Rwanda is home - and I belong. 

I am also grateful that I remembered Julien's name... He does matter to us.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Two Encounters and a Conversation

One of my dear women came to find me and thank me for what we had done as a shop last week on the sudden death of her brother. I gave her my personal sympathy and asked about what happened. Her brother came home from work, got on his bicycle and went to collect water as he saw that his home needed some. He was in an accident and killed instantly. 

A lady walked in our gate at the shop. I saw her walk in and thought she had walked through the property to the other side. Minutes later, Benjamin came to tell me that in fact she had come looking for help. She lives in the greater neighbourhood. I went out the back to meet her. She was sitting with two tiny babies in her lap, and gulping down two cups of sorghum porridge that had been made for morning break. Th
e twins, a boy and a girl, are 1 month old. They have been out of the hospital for 1 week and weigh just over 2kgs each. She has a 4.5 year old girl at home. 

After I was sitting the office, I turned to Teddy, my manager , a young Rwandan gal, and said... 'It always makes me so conflicted and I really don't know what to do with these scenerios.' 
You see Teddy also told me that the brother killed in the first tragedy was drunk when he came home from his work as a bicycle taxi. He did see that they needed water and went for it - commendable for sure ... and never made it back home to a 2 year old child and a heavily pregnant 'wife'. (I would guess that they are not married). She is now a 'widow' and alone
In the second case, she said her 'husband' left her when he found out they were having twins. The local authorities only help those with triplets ... not twins. She too is alone. 

My conversation with Teddy... it always seems that the poorer the woman, the least uneducated ... marriage  / relationships are not about love but about belonging to someone - bounded to them by sharing children BUT most of the time there is not love, commitment, future AND they feel they do not have the power to make choices that are best for them. That said... there is lots of work to be done in educating that it is in fact their right to choose what is best for them, their bodies and their families. 

Makes me realize again that what we do at J.Lynn's - giving vulnerable women their first job and opportunity to be who God wants them to be ... is so important and part of God's plan of redeeming plan to live in fullness of life no matter life circumstances.

Tomorrow is another day ... wonder what will come my way. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

I'm back...

... at least I'm going to try. 

Life has been a bit crazy the last year or year and a half and I realize that SO much goes around my head and most importantly my heart. 

Most days I have written my mind and / or heart in a blog and not done it. 
2017 needs to be different. 
2017 needs to be the year I get stuff out of my mind and heart and gain a bit more breathing space back. 
So... if you're reading this, come on back in the future to see what I've taken the time to post - living in Rwanda, life, family, stuff I can't reconcile in my brain ... we'll see!