Thursday, 23 February 2017

Can We Create Hope?

This is the question that Serge just asked me. 

No we can't BUT I believe we can do everything in our power to create an environment of hope around a person. We can structure, model, encourage, talk, and be Jesus in every way possible BUT it is still the persons choice if they choose hope. 

I just found out this morning that one of my women at J.Lynn's / Komeza did not choose hope yesterday.  

Big long story and I'm sure that I don't know it all but after hours of talking to her on Saturday along with two of my managers, sending one of my girls to check on her written prescription at 4 different pharmacies to see if what was being prescribed was in fact for what she says was ailing her ... she made the choice NOT to show up at the shop yesterday morning at 7:30 for transport money to go to a proper doctor and get throughly checked for whatever is causing her latest ailments. 

She is a single mom of two children. 
She is HIV positive. 
She struggles to stay healthy. 

I made the choice on Saturday that we were not going to pay the $37 USD for this fake prescription but to spend that money at a real doctor and clinic and know for sure what is causing her latest sickness.

I may never know that reason why she didn't show up - but I have my suspicions. They involve being influenced by those around her and being used by a clinic which is preying on the poor. 

We have always told our women that if they go to the local clinic and they feel like they are not treated well, they are to come and tell us about it and we advocate for them. This often involves paying from our pocket the fees to see a private doctor and buy the proper medicine. BUT then we know that their chances to get better are much higher AND they will continue to be a good mom, a good wife and show up to work. 

She told us that she had been to the local clinic twice with no results ... then she borrowed money to go to this private clinic which writes prescriptions which can only be filled at their pharmacy and nowhere else in the country.  

Tomorrow I will be at the shop and we'll see where she is at health wise and I will continue to wrestle with how to continue to create an environment that enables her to choose hope and life. God help us find a way. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Flying Comets

So yesterday I wrote about my changing expectations regarding food stuffs here in Rwanda. 
On the other end, we also have flying comets hit us ... and we NEVER know when!

What are the flying comets you might ask? 
They are those food items that appear for the shortest possible time on a store shelf and have never been seen again.  Some of the comets we have been hit with... 

Canada Dry Gingerale
A + W RootBeer
JetPuff Marshmallows
Smoked Gouda
Oreos DoubleStuff
Cherry Coke
HP Sauce
Yes, of course we can all live without the above examples BUT they do bring a settledness and a bit of joy. A little bit of sense that all is right in the world and will be okay - if only for a day or two. 

I think that God does the flying comet thing to remind me that it's the little things. 
I wonder what the next one will be and when?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Changing Expectations...

So yesterday I posted on my FB feed that it was a 'Crisis... no popcorn to be found!' 

I had gone to five different shops which 'normally' carry popcorn - to find none. 

A friend responded asking if this was a first world problem. 
I responded that it wasn't cause when was the last time that he had gone looking for popcorn. 
His response was not that I couldn't find any but that I expected to find it. 

Got me thinking. 

Yes my level of expectation here in Rwanda has changed dramatically over the years. 
Those of us that have lived here a long time - let's say more than 5 years (I've been here 13 years...) do have to exercise patience when someone 'newer' complains about something not being available. 

When I first came long term in Rwanda in 2004, I remember the day very vividly when my intern and I found ONE loan Mars bar sitting on a store shelf. We bought it, cut it in half and savoured it. I have often wondered since how old it was... and I'm not sure it would have mattered. (I don't even like Mars bars!) Today I can buy good chocolate - not cheap but it's here... anytime I want.

The availability of goods here has drastically changed. We have Nakumatt ( a Kenyan supermarket that stocks many things), Simba (I think a Lebanese supermarket that also stocks many items) and then a few local shops that carry many products as well.. along with two wholesale importers which you can buy from. 

So... availability has changed and I have started to live with greater expectations that something 'should be available' all the time and on a certain shelf in a certain shop. 

However... life still does ebb and flow here ... and with that brings frustration or maybe it's just annoying?

Like yesterday... five different shops - no popcorn. 
Is it really that hard to keep popcorn in stock?  

Or like a number of weeks ago when there was no butter in the city and all muzungus (foreigners) were asking through every media outlet they could, where the butter was. It showed up about three weeks later. 

Or the time when local cheese isn't too be found. We've been cheeseless for months on end different times ... holidays? Cows stopped giving milk? Politics? Anybody's guess...

Or the time then we couldn't find black pepper for about 6 months. 

My constant search item these days - liquid red food colouring! I've been looking for almost a year.

I will readily admit that I've gone from zero expectation to expectation over the last 13 years.... but I know there will always be something. 

But today I bought popcorn! It's a win!!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

So Mr. Trump...

... I invite you to come and visit the Kiziba Refugee Camp in Kibuye, Rwanda. 

You see, in this one camp alone there are about 20,000 Congolese Refugees. They are there because there has been unrest in Eastern Congo since the end of the genocide in 1994. The UN Peacekeepers that are there make up about 25% of the forces deployed in the UN worldwide along with a huge portion of the budget. UN Peacekeepers  ... can't keep peace they haven't brought AND with all the mining interests there and the UN involvement on the side - no peace will be brought. 

Hence... over 60% of the refugees in the Kiziba Camp are under the age of 25 and have no recollection of their 'homeland'. This is one camp in Rwanda. There are four others that hold Congolese as well and two which have Burundian Refugees. 

I just learned today that some the refugees that were close to resettlement to America are now being told they need to wait indefinitely. Indefinitely for what? They have already been waiting through a more than two year vetting process. 
They are Congolese. 
They are not on the list.
I KNOW you're significantly cutting back on the number of refugees entering America. 
But when you are a huge part as to why there is no peace in the region ... I'm begging you to at least offset the interests with the interests of the innocent.  

What really fuelled my fire, was reading this notice from World Relief USA. 
About makes my blood boil... 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

My Leader Girl...

Here sits my girl .... writing out ways that her school could better live out their motto... 
'Not to be served, but to serve.'

She has already won head girl of her class - Primary 5 Faith ... and she's been selected to run for Head Primary Girl. 
Her speech is tomorrow. 

Through her heart runs lots of passion, justice and a desire to make this world a better place. I often wonder where her road will lead. I then pray and ask God to give Serge and I much guidance as we parent her. 

Win or lose tomorrow ... May this process continue to spur her on to meeting the needs of those around her - and bringing others alongside to do the same.