Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Trip to Rwanda - Sunday, 10th of October 2010

Sunday 10th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's perspective.

It’s the last day of our trip and we return back to London later today. I miss my family but this experience has been like no other. All the while I packed my stuff and prepared for church I kept on thinking God must have purposed this.

After breakfast, the Minevam protocol team picked us up for service. The service was alright with special highlights from the guest minister who literally screamed the bible reading at the congregation.

Seeing the beautiful children’s (all sponsored by Remi) was such a blessing. We gave out sweets and encouraged them to do well at school so they can become all they want to be. It was fun watching Edo try to get the kids to recite the Reconnect motto. He managed it quite well.

It’s been an awesome and fulfilling week and its time to prepare for the airport. This is an experience I’d never forget. Over the last few days I’ve laughed, cried, and been angry and somewhat bewildered. I know I’ll never forget the stories of the people, their hospitality, their exuberant expression of gratitude and their resilience for living.

I love Rwanda and its people. This trip has been a blessing and given me to opportunity to work with some really brilliant guys and be a blessing to others. The need in Rwanda is huge and trust me every little helps. I leave with a purpose to show love and kindness and encourage others to do the same. Will I love to return to Rwanda? The answer is an almighty resounding YES, and hopefully with more friends.

Trip to Rwanda - Saturday, 9th of October 2010

Saturday 9th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's Perspective.

It was a relaxing day today. The highlight was our trip to the local market with Remi searching everywhere for a fridge magnet. The guys spent little or no time getting their stuff but I had to savour the joy of haggling with the shop owners.

After shopping we returned to the guest house for dinner and a quiet evening.

Trip to Rwanda - Friday, 8th of October 2010

We also visited Rene Ishimwe who lives with his mother in Kigali. His mother works as a cleaner. He will be starting his 5th year of Primary school in January 2011. He is doing well in school and wants to be a Doctor in the future. He was given a present from his sponsor.

Trip to Rwanda - Friday, 8th of October 2010

Next stop was a visit to Ange Pamela Umwali who lives with her mother, Alice Umubyeyi. Her mother works as a cleaner and struggles to cope with her rent and living expenses. She is glad her daughter has a sponsor for her schooling which makes a huge difference for her financial wise. She would also like to go back to secondary school in order to better her future prospects. She plans to study during the day and work at night. Solace Ministries UK has agreed to sponsor her secondary school fees.

Ange Pamela was given presents.

Trip to Rwanda - Friday, 8th of October 2010

It was an early start at 8.30am for more visits to greet children. Our first visit was to see Sunny Uwineza who lives with her mother and aunty. Her aunty, Louise Nabagize, had to stop secondary school due to lack of money and sponsorship. Solace Ministries UK agreed to sponsor her for the rest of her secondary school starting from 3rd year of secondary school.

Trip to Rwanda - Thursday, 7th of October 2010

We went on to visit Augustine Horusenga who lives with this mother, brother and sister. His mother works as a cleaner and earns 35,000 Rwf (£40) per month. Her rent is 25,000 Rwf (£28) per month. She struggles to look after her children. The school sponsorship helps her cope with the financial burden of looking after them which she is truly thankful for. The child was given presents. He will be starting his 1st year of secondary school from January 2011.

Following the visits, we had Lunch at Laico Hotel before taking Stuart Anderson to the airport for his flight back to London.
The evening was a quiet and relaxing one back at the Solace Guest house.

Trip to Rwanda - Thursday, 7th of October 2010

The day stated with a visit to Jean Claude Nsabimana at school who will be starting his 3rd year of Secondary school from January 2011. He enjoys playing basketball and who knows, he could become an NBA star in the future!!

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

It was a long and busy day but very fulfilling. Seeing these children and the condition they live in highlights the fact that there is a great need. But the most amazing part is their cheerful disposition.

Stuart treated us to dinner at the plush Serena hotel in Kigali to chill out and celebrate our trip so far.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

While visiting the Ndera community we went to visit Jean Marie who is 16years old and has no living relatives. He was a baby when his parents were killed during the genocide of 1994. He now lives alone having been given up by his carers. He rents this small room and earns an income from carry people on his bicycle. The members of the community visit him regularly to keep him company. He is been sponsored through school. We gave him gifts during our visit.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

While we were visiting the Ndera community, Stuart Anderson gave the children of the community gifts of clothes which were very well received. This was truly a blessing to the children and their carers because you can see how old and worn out their clothes are.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

We went on to visit Alexis Ntakirutimana (16yrs old) and Jean Paul Nduwayezu (14yrs old). They live in Ndera. From January 2011, Alexis will be starting 6th year of primary school and Jean Paul 4th year of primary school.
Alexis wants to become a Biologist and Jean Paul wants to become a Doctor.
I was given a present for their sponsor and I also gave them presents from their sponsor.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

Next was our visit to David Ishimwe (7yrs old), Igor Kirenga (8yrs old) and Deborah Isimbi (11yrs old) who live in Kigali with their grandmother. From January 2011, David will be starting 2nd year of primary school, Igor 3rd year of primary school and Deborah 5th year of primary school.
David wants to become the president of Rwanda, Igor wants to join the army (you can see him already wearing army fatigues in the picture) and Deborah wants to become a doctor.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

Sisters, Claudine Ukwishaka and Mediatrice Ingabire, were visited at their home in Kigali. They live with their mother who is currently very ill. Claudine (10years old) will be starting her 4th year of primary school in January 2011 and Mediatrice (13years old) will be starting her 1st year of Secondary school. Their brother, Ycentha, is also in the picture. They all received gifts from their sponsors.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

After we had lunch we visited some children sponsored by supporters of Solace Ministries UK.
Sisters, Dinah Uwamurera and Denise Wibabara, were visited at their school at Shyorongi Primary school in Shyorongi district. They live with their grandmother and have to walk 60mins to school every day. They were given gifts from their sponsor.

Trip to Rwanda - Wednesday, 6th of October 2010

Wednesday 6th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's perspective.

A group counselling session for orphans and widows is usually held every Wednesday morning at the Solace Ministries headquarters. The session consists of survivors giving an account of what they are currently going through and how they cope.

Mama Lambert as she’s fondly called chairs the sessions. Today’s session began at about 9:30am and although I didn’t understand the language I could sense her words encouraged the congregation.

As a kind gesture we brought underwear for the widows which we presented to them at the end of the session. These gifts were well received and some of the ladies didn’t wait a minute to get them on. As usual they sang and danced thanking us for our generosity.

Trip to Rwanda - Tuesday, 5th of October 2010

Tuesday 5th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's Perspective.
For some unknown reason, I requested to see another memorial site (like I hadn’t seen enough). So on the way back to Kigali from Kaduha, we drove through Murambi to visit a Genocide memorial site. We were not allowed to take pictures at the site for good reason.

This one was even more graphic than the last. It had 24 rooms which contained bodies of the victims. In fact one could see some of the type of injuries they sustained e.g. cracked skulls, amputated limbs and even chopped noses. Out of the 55,000 people they suggest hid there, about 50,000 bodies were recovered and only 7 survivors have been found. The last 2 were found 3 days ago.

After looking through a few rooms we all decided we had seen enough and continued the journey to Kigali.

Our next stop was a visit to Lilie Masengesho at Butare (see picture). She’s one of the children sponsored by Solace Ministries UK. Lilie is in primary school and will be starting her 6th year from Jan 2011. Like most of the children she wants to become a doctor.

Trip to Rwanda - Tuesday, 5th of October 2010

Tuesday 5th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's Perspective.

Our day started very early at 6.30am because we had to embark on a 3 hour drive to visit the community of Kaduha which is in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Kaduha is one of the 60 communities that are supported by Solace ministries spread across Rwanda.

The drive to Kaduha could be compared to being on a rollercoaster but on a bumpy surface. It’s not like any drive I’ve been on in my life. Although the scenery was beautiful, it felt like my heart was in my mouth for the most part. Stuart’s reaction to the drive made me seem very brave but along with Bolaji he had us all cracking up. To be honest I think the place is in the middle of nowhere. It’s hard to believe people live there.

We arrived to a large congregation of people who apparently had been walking for hours to see us. There are about 114 families in the community and each family received a pig which was donated by Jesus House as part of the pig farm project as well as 2 cows and 2 goats for the community. Prior to this donation to the community, the average monthly income for the community was £2 per month. With the pig farm project and the income generated from the rearing and sale of the piglets, they now earn about £16 per month which is an 800% increase in their income.

The reception we received was second-to-none. The people sang and danced their hearts out. One of the ladies who expressed her gratitude said she believes God answers prayers. All this, made the entire journey worth it.

After the singing and dancing, Edo & I performed a symbolic handover of the animals to the community. It was a very humbling and fulfilling experience for me and it brought me to tears.

Trip to Rwanda - Monday, 4th of October 2010

Monday 4th of October 2010 - Rwanda from Nkem Dennar's Perspective.

It was a full day today. Out of curiosity, after breakfast I took a walk around the Solace building just to see what happens there on a daily basis. I met the nurse Gloria who spoke to me about what they do. At the centre, they attend to about 30 women every day who are HIV positive, run computer classes for the orphans and counselling sessions for people.

The highlight of my day was the visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre. The memorial centre has details of the history of Rwanda and the genocide that occurred in 1994 as well as a section on the genocide that occurred during different periods in history such as the Armenian and Bosnian genocide, and the Holocaust in Germany.

There were exhibits of weapons used during the genocide and also remains of victims. There were video testimonies of survivors and even confessions of the perpetrators.

This experience is not one I can describe with words. I think I left there thinking how can people be so wicked? From anger to disgust to sadness, I experienced a whole lot of emotions at the same time. The hardest bit was seeing the photographs of children who were killed in the most brutal way possible.

There’s no doubt these people have been through so much and my mind can not begin to understand it.

Outside the building there are about 258,000 bodies buried and a garden where people can come and mourn their loved ones. As we left the Memorial Centre, everyone seemed to be in a sombre and reflective mood. I for one had definitely seen enough.

To ease the effect of this experience we decided to drive around town to enjoy the sights and sound of Kigali. We had lunch at the Union Trade Centre with Remi and his friends. The whole day’s experience had me thinking about life’s real purpose.

Tomorrow we go to visit the people of Kaduha. It should be fun!

Trip to Rwanda - 2nd - 10th of October 2010

Sunday 3rd of October 2010 - Rwanda from the perspective of Nkem Dennar

After a 12 hour journey, touching down at Kigali airport was a big relief. Remi, Stuart and Edo helped ease the stress of travelling.

Remi is here for his usual 6monthly visit, Stuart joined in for a firsthand experience of life in Rwanda while Edo and I (from Jesus House) support a project with Solace Ministries.

Apart from the cheeky officer checking out my suitcase of underwear, getting past customs was easy. The warm sunshine and cool breeze made all the hassles of the trip worth it.

Immediately got my camera and started shooting the beautiful scenery of Rwanda.

We were greeted by Jean Gwakandi, founder of Solace Ministries, we all headed to Solace Ministries Guest House, where we’ll be staying for the duration of our trip.

Driving through the streets was nothing like I had imagined; clean sidewalks, streetlights, organised traffic and a good level of modernisation. My preconceived ideas were already being destroyed.
When we arrived at the guesthouse, the first stop was the restaurant to grab some breakfast (for the 3rd time today) and then joined the Solace Ministries church service. The service and stories of the survivors was awesome. It began to open my mind to some of the experiences of the genocide and definitely had me wanting to know more. The town Kigali is actually very beautiful and the sense of community among the people is so amazing.