On the first of June 2014, 7 sponsors of the Mukomeze foundation went – together with board members Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Eefje de Volder – to Rwanda to see the work of Mukomeze and the impact of it on the survivors. Marianne Scholing, one of the participants of this trip, tells in her own words how the experience was for her:
Because of its fifth anniversary in 2013 Mukomeze organized a trip for sponsors and others involved people to Rwanda. The group was hosted at the guesthouse of Solace Ministries in the capital city Kigali. People at Solace are very friendly and welcoming, the guesthouse really felt as a ‘home from home’. We got the chance to meet many staff members of Solace and become familiar with their work. Jean Gakwandi (director) and Mama Lambert (counselor) accompanied us on many visits during the trip and spend a lot of time with us, including some evenings. The first two days were spend in Kigali with visits to various organizations for survivors of the genocide and the Gisozi Memorial site. It was very interesting to learn more about the genocide and the consequences for the Rwandan people. However, it still felt a bit aloof, as if you are only an observer. This feeling changed rapidly when we set out to the south of Rwanda.
In the South we visited the community of Rusatira; this group is running a fruit trees project with the support of Mukomeze. Approximately 50 women and some men and children welcomed us at the community house. It was overwhelming; they hugged us, danced, singed and showed us proudly the fruit trees, bee keeping houses and plant nursery. We could see with our own eyes that these women were true survivors and were trying to get on with their lives. In Rusatira, and the next day in Nyanza, we met a lot of women sponsored by Mukomeze and we could experience what it meant to them to be sponsored. During the maturity of a sponsorship the women do not have to worry about basics like food, they are able to focus on longer term facilities like jobs, education for their children and their health. And also important, they can start coping with their traumas. What comes with the Mukomeze sponsorship and all the activities of Solace is that the women feel that other people care about them; they feel being looked after as in a family.
This impressed me most, it is not only about money, it is about helping people to get their lives back in every aspect. I am thankful that I can play a role in that process. During the rest of our stay in Rwanda we visited some sponsored women in their houses and they shared their testimonials. Each survivor has its own, impressive story. I met Emerita (the woman my partner and I sponsor) and her family; she also finds a lot of comfort and support in joining Solace and the Mukomeze sponsorship programme.
Rwanda seemed an organized and clean country. The government and all the organizations are working very hard to ban ethnic conflicts from Rwanda; I hope they will continue to succeed.
I would like to thank Anne-Marie and Eefje for this excellent organized and impressive trip. Also many thanks to Jean and Mama Lambert, they put their lives in the service of survivors and made this trip unforgettable.