Rwanda - Land of a thousand hills!
To read the latest update from Rwanda click here
Background to our connection with Rwanda
o Our previous Vicar, Jim Steven's visit in 2000 with CMS was followed by the challenge to raise funds for a clinic in Shyogwe - £12,000 was raised;
o 2002, 6 parishoners visited to see the clinic underway and also to visit the missionary Rev Meg Guillebaud in Byumba; during that visit a further capital project was identified in Bushara and subsequently £18,000 raised; the need for audit of how such funds are used was identified;
o 2005 a further visit of 10 people including teenagers, who felt it had been a crucial part of their development; during that visit it was discovered that some money hadn't reached Bushara – the team played important role in making sure it all got there;
o Byumba cards (made by widows and orphans) were already being sold by one of our home groups;
o 2007 a further team went - again a mix of ages – and tried to begin work on sharing skills etc;
o 2008 Bishop Rwaje from Byumba visited us and sponsorship of Pastors began. Canon Pheneas became the link person with an annual visit to be organised by the charity Damascus Trust (DT);
o 2009 3 more people visited Rwanda with DT;
o 2011 DT visited again and interviewed the pastors – they were asked what help Byumba would like: a conference for the pastor's children; help improving an adult education centre; other practical help.
o Rwanda Packing (sending clothes to Rwanda) which worked for many years has now closed;
o 2 students have spent gap years in Rwanda;
Canon Pheneas, Bishops Jered and Rwaje have visited several times, as has Meg who also often receives financial help from individuals in response to her requests in particular cases of need in Rwanda.
Stephanie and Lucy Moss along with 5 others visited Rwanda. The purpose of the visit was to meet and interview pastors on the Support a Pastor Scheme run by Damascus Trust, to hold a conference for Pastors their wives and adult children in Byumba, to revisit the two clinics (in Shyogwe and Bushara) which were refurbished using funds given by St Philips and St james in 2002 and 2005 and to strengthen relationships between ourselves and the Christian communities in the dioceses of Shyogwe and Byumba.
Stephanie reports that she saw a huge amount of progress in this country in the three years since she last visited. There was so much to be encouraged about. It felt safer, more relaxed, there was more English being spoken and understood, white people seemed less of a rarity and there was a general feeling of optimism in the country. The roads were still very bumpy except for the few tarmac roads and running water was still the exception in our guest house.
Bushara Clinic is amazingly good- with caring nurses who seem to be well trained in specific areas and aware of their limitations but very good at what they do. Nearly all rooms were full of people and well-used, and we were shown the new mattresses and other equipment bought with the money sent last year. The lovely thing is that the love of Jesus is so clearly expressed through the care which the staff give, and Progene, the director seems an excellent man for the job, and only 25 years old! The good thing was that although they were keen to have more training, they seemed very content with the way things are at the moment.
Shyogwe clinic is doing well- we spent a morning seeing patients there. They have 20609 families registered with them from 21 villages and there are plans to try to make three clinics within the diocese up to the level of a hospital so that they can get a government funded doctor. Then the existing hospital 5km away would become a secondary referral hospital. In September, Jim Stevens plans to visit this diocese and it will be good to have further discussion with him.
One of the young men at the conference described it as "a miracle" to be learning from the Bible alongside his father at a Pastors' conference. All delegates were thrilled to hear that individuals in the UK had paid for them to attend, and , in true relational fashion they asked to know the names of their sponsors so they could pray for them. We were happy to oblige. It was so helpful for all the pastors to meet up, since they have such huge congregations (often around 1000 people) and many responsibilities. We prayed that we could bring them refreshment and blessing. Imagining them returning to their villages at the end of the conference, many with no electricity and having to walk some distance to fetch water, made me feel very humbled when I had seen their exuberant worship.
I have been charged with conveying their love and thanks to all members of our church community. They really do appreciate our visits and the friendship which has been established. You would be surprised to see how many things they remember from past visits and from the letters you send. Together we say "Imana ishimwe " (praise the Lord)