How to change the world world… one life at a time
In April 2008 I visited some of the children and their families, which we help to sponsor. The first child that Africa New life lined us up to see happened to be Mugisha Beritira (aged 7) who happened to be sponsored by the Garner family!
After a hair-raising van drive along a very narrow street leading into increasingly deprived ’slum’ area and market place. We parked a walked the last few 100 yards to Alice’s house (Mugisha’ mum). Here three members of the Freespirit team and our interpreter Carol sat around a tiny room that barely contained us.
Alice, aged 26 and a mum of 3 children, described how, during the 1994 genocide, her parents and all her family elders in Chibungo (her home village) were killed. She was left at age 11 years old to raise her younger sister and two bothers. The man who killed her parents was arrested after the war and put in prison. The small family came to find somewhere to live eventually in the capital city of Kigali. Alice told us how one of her brothers would regularly return to the rural area to cultivate food and earn a little money to support the child-headed family. As awful as it is, her story so far can be repeated little thousands of times across Rwanda.
What she told us next was even more shocking.
Under a restorative justice system, the victims of the genocide agree to meet with the killers. Alice met with her parents’ killer and was willing to forgive him. He then went through a traditional gershasha court system (especially adapted to deal with perpetrators of the Genocide) and was released from prison. This happened only 18 months prior to our visit. Upon release he immediately came and found Alice’s brother and killed him. Alice began weeping as she shared this, the memories clearly still raw. Alice fled with her 3 children into the ‘tall grasses’ (in one of the river valleys around Kigali). She said she wanted to throw herself down the well (a common method of suicide in Rwanda).
As I listened I could see even our Rwanda interpreter was visible upset. As I looked around the room I don’t think any one wasn’t deeply moved by her plight. She then explained how Mugisha (which means ‘blessed one’) had seen his mother’s distress and asked her if she ever prayed to God. She did believe in God but had almost lost all hope. This little word from her 6-year-old boy however spurred her on. They prayed together.
The very next day they met someone who knew of their situation and offered to pay rent for them on a house in the city. This was the house we were now sitting in. Two months later we began to sponsor Mugisha.
Alice went on to explain that her brother’s killer was arrested again. This time he will be in a Rwandan prison for the rest of his life. Because of her faith, Alice went and visited this man again in prison. She was willing to forgive him again. He told her that if he ever got out of prison he would kill her to. He did though want to tell her one more thing.
The killer relayed how, as he held a machete to her brothers throat, her brother told him that Alice had many times encouraged him to trust in Jesus Christ. He had so far declined. Now he wanted a moment before his death to hand his life over to Jesus. The killer allowed him to do this before striking a fatal blow and then cutting his body into pieces. Alice then asked if I wanted to see photographs of her brother’s body (Africa New Life would need to obtain them). I don’t want to avoid entering into the trauma of her pain, so I have agreed and that may yet happen.
She ended by saying she has been in her house for 6 months and Mugisha has started school (through the sponsorship) so good things are happening for which she thanks God. I think our visit to Alice’s house that day left an indelible mark on the souls of each of us who were there.
As we left her house Alice and the children walked with us back through the crowed market place to our van. As we did so people began shouting at our party. I asked one of the interpreters what they were saying. She said, they are calling out to Alice. ‘She is truly blessed’.
How do you change the whole world? One life at a time (including mine)
Please consider sponsoring a child in Rwanda
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This entry was posted on March 12, 2010 at 7:30 am and is filed under Uncategorized . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
This is a really good mate of mine…. read it, it will leave you in silence!