Hope in Rwanda

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Rwanda is an amazing country. It’s a mountainous nation with stunning scenery and wonderful people. The current population is said to be over twelve million.

The local government is well loved and very active in developing and improving the country. The capital, Kigali, is clean and well ordered.

Today I took a trip, with four other Australians, to a rural town to see the work that Compassion is doing. Despite the huge advances made here over the last couple of decades, there are still many people living in poverty. Those who are being served by Compassion have something that many others don’t … hope.

We heard from Francine, a mother who had nothing and felt her life was hopeless before she connected with the local church that partners with Compassion. That was a couple of years ago. Today she absolutely shines.

Together with her youngest child, she joined the Child Survival Program, designed to help women through pregnancy and the early childhood years.

As well as great education about child care, nutrition and much more, she was helped to start a small business, selling small food items. Through the success of her small business she has been able to care better for her family and even contribute towards building a new home. She excitedly told us that soon she hopes to afford adding doors and windows to the basic building her family now calls home.

We heard story after story of lives and families changed. The joy on the faces of the children told us just how successful Compassion has been in helping to bring hope to so many in the community.

I love seeing lives transformed by hope and thankfully I see that a lot through my work.

Do you realise that you can give a child the gift of hope? Please give a child hope for the future by sponsoring them through Compassion, and release them from poverty in Jesus name.

An Inspiring Life

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There are many times in life that we can’t choose what happens to us but most of the time we can choose how we deal with life’s circumstances. Tonight I met an extraordinary woman. Christine Uwase has risen above some of the most devastating events imaginable to create a bright future.

>”I was on my mother’s back when they shot her in the head,” says Christine Uwase. “She died on the spot.” Christine was 4 years old.

“We were hunted,” she continues softly. For days the terrified family of five children had hidden in their Kigali neighborhood before the Interahamwe (a civilian death squad) murdered their mother.

Fueled by tribal hatred, these violent gangs used guns and machetes to kill an estimated 1 million people during Rwanda’s April 1994 genocide.

Christine’s father was traveling with his civil service job when the killing began. Christine says, “To this day we do not know his whereabouts.”

The family can only assume he was murdered during the genocide.

Meeting this inspiring young woman was a real honour and has been one of the great highlights of my trip to East Africa.

Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the video of Christine’s story and be inspired too.

Farewell Ethiopia

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It’s been just over a week and our time in Ethiopia is almost over. Tomorrow we fly to Kigali, Rwanda.

During our time here I’ve seen the most devastating poverty I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve sat in homes feeling broken inside as I’ve heard heart breaking stories of extreme poverty and how it effects people. It robs them of their worth, of their hope and their dignity. What do you say to a man who breaks down and sobs as he tries to tell you how he has been bed ridden for two years because he can’t afford medical help? He told us he, his wife and children face eviction because he can’t afford $25 a month for rent.

How do you begin to comprehend life in a town where water is incredibly scarce? A place where even the local hospital, as basic as it is, can’t wash the blankets on the beds between patients because they have no water. The basins are dry and dusty. The taps haven’t had water running through them for a very long time.

It’s been tough to see how others are forced to live but right there in those circumstances hope breaks through. Compassion is there.

While there is still so much to be done, Compassion is working with local churches to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. That has a flow on effect to the families of those children and ultimately to the community around them.

Hope is sitting in a small room that serves as a house for a mother and her child and hearing her say that if it wasn’t for Compassion they’d both be dead by now. It’s seeing the joy in children’s faces as they experience the love of those at the local Compassion centre. Hope is hearing about mothers who have been able to start small businesses with the help of Compassion so that they can earn desperately needed money for their families.

Compassion is working through local churches to shine a bright light into some very dark corners, bringing hope and a future for many people.

I leave Ethiopia with mixed emotions but I look forward to seeing the same hope growing in Rwanda.

Hope Breaks Through

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(Pictured: Some of the many children being released from poverty through Compassion.)

He worked as a soldier for the former government, clearing land mines. That was until a mine robbed him of his eyesight and one of his legs. These days his small pension and meagre earnings from what little work he is able to do just can’t stretch far enough to support his wife and five children.

We were welcomed into his tiny dwelling. His entire home is about the size of a small bedroom. It’s dark and there’s some rough covering on parts of the concrete floor. The high corrugated iron roof has made it possible to accommodate a very roughly made mezzanine across half of the room where he sleeps alongside his two sons. Mum and two daughters sleep below. Their eldest daughter has moved to live with close relatives because there’s just not enough room for her at home. The large poster of Avril Lavigne on the wall seems completely out of place in this small Ethiopian home.

As a couple of local Compassion representatives and us five Australians huddled together in the cramped conditions, we heard the story of this fammily and their struggles.

With rain bucketing down outisde and thunder that made it sound like the entire neighbourhod was about to fall down, we also heard about how one of their daughters is now being sponsored through Compassion. Now there is hope in their home. She dreams of becoming a civil engineer …. and she’s only seven.

In just a few days in Addis Ababa we have seen a lot of desperate poverty but we’ve also seen incredible hope. We’ve seen hope amidst some of the toughest circumstances imaginable and we’ve met young people who have overcome poverty through their Compassion sponsorship. Lives are being changed and children are being released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Before we left that small home today we prayed for the precious family we had just met. We prayed that Jesus would be their comfort in their difficulties and that he would also be the one to change their current circumstances. It was an honour to spend time with their family and to enter into their world, even for just a few moments.

Welcome … We Love You

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It was quite a drive out of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia today to get to a church which partners with Compassion. While the sights on the way were amazing, nothing could prepare our group of five Australians for our arrival and the welcome we received.

A throng of children moved towards us. A small girl made her way over to me, handed me some beautiful roses and said, “Welcome, we love you.” I only just managed to hold it together.

From that point on we couldn’t go anywhere without several children holding onto our hands as they chatted excitedly amongst themselves and with us. They were all children who are benefitting from the holistic child development offered through Compassion. We had the honour of being shown through the centre where they are receiving help to improve their physical, spiritual, cognitive and socio-economic outcomes.

The joy exhibited by the children was only part of the story. As we found out more and more about this particular centre, we were told that many of those who had graduated previously had moved from desperate poverty to living fulfilling lives. Three graduates have become doctors, four have become lawyers, others have started their own businesses and the list just went on.

The love the staff at the centre have for each child was obvious. The fact that they could point at photos of many previous graduates and tell us what they were now doing and about how many children they now had showed that this was no passing interest. They are fully invested in the very best outcomes for each and every one of the children they serve.

I wonder what potential is hiding in each of the children we met today. I wonder how different their lives would have been if they didn’t have someone somewhere else in the world who loved them enough to sponsor them.

I wonder what potential will remain undiscovered simply because there are not enough sponsors for every child who deserves a chance to be released from poverty. Will you consider sponsoring a child through Compassion today?