Africa New Life works in several communities throughout Rwanda and takes a multi-layered approach focusing on education, health, spiritual development, community development and stable homes. I have loved getting to see different aspects of each ministry.
I got recruited for this trip by my dear friend, Hollie, who I've known since attending college together at John Brown University.
She runs a non-profit bakery in Corpus Christi, TX called Fed by Bread and sends all of the proceeds to Africa New Life - focusing mainly on serving lunch to the children in Kageyo B through the Food Is program. When Hollie visited two years ago, they were only getting a cup of nutritional porridge, but now, they get heaping platefuls of beans and rice. We got to visit the village of Kageyo and help serve the lunch.
We watched as they lined up to wash their hands and then receive their hot plates, which may be the only meal some of them receive that day.
Please note that during this amazing experience, I watched two chickens that were tied up being carried near to the kitchen. I was paralyzed with fear that we were going to have to witness their slaughter, which I understand (and appreciate since chicken is my livelihood), but I did not want to see. Thankfully for me, the chickens were momentarily spared and spent time just hanging out near us. 🐔
The children in Kageyo were so intrigued by us, so we entertained them with a little Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, which was funny for everyone involved. Plus, they just liked touching our skin and waving at the Muzungus (foreigners). 😳
Also, while in Kageyo, we got to see the Keyhole Garden initiative at work, where households are selected to receive a raised garden and taught how to plant vegetables and make dishes from them. There's a large community garden as well, and seeing the thriving green healthy food being grown in an area that desperately needs it was a bright ray of hope.
Several of the women on this trip sponsored children before we left, and we have gotten to visit the homes and families of the children. These have been some of the most special moments to witness, and I've not had dry eyes in any of their houses.
Though I have seen poverty several times over, it is always shocking, and I think it should be. They live with so much less, and much of their lives are consumed by finding the necessary things they need to daily survive. It's hard to wrap my mind around the disparity in the world when faced with the stark reality of the way many people live. And when those people have stories and faces, and I am being graciously hosted by them - let me just say, it is overwhelming, to say the least. It was an excellent reminder of the upside down economy of the Lord, because many of the people we met with know Jesus - KNOW him - and are spiritually blessed in ways that I haven't touched because of the way I live with so much stuff and far less daily dependence on the Lord.
That said, it was a gift to see how sponsorship transforms their lives and provides help and hope in the midst of trying circumstances.
Milk and Honey Tees fame - with her precious sponsored child, Dennis, and his family.)
(We took a Polaroid camera to be able to leave behind photos with each family.)
You also have to understand that each time we were in a home, every neighbor in walking distance (a LOT of neighbors) showed up and tried to crowd into the homes with us. There is just nothing subtle about this. 😂😂😂
It really has been such an amazing look at Rwanda and all the work that Africa New Life and ultimately, God, are doing here.