After a brief prayer, we set out on their journey. Though none of us had ever been to the destination nor met the people they were destined to meet, the enthusiasm and sense of purpose was unmistakable.
It was the Saturday after Easter and the youth of St Peter’s Church, Remera were on a mission to the ‘village of hope.’
The ‘village of hope’ is situated north of Kabuga town. The ‘mudugudu’ which lies on a beautiful hill was built by His grace the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, the Right Rev Emmanuel Kolini.
It is home to about 45 young men and women who survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Many of the women are now single mothers.
We arrive at this isolated village whose nearest neighbour is about 400m away and are welcomed by humble looking smart young people.
Their broad smiles conceal their bitter hearts. Bitterness caused by the suffering they experienced during and immediately after the genocide when they lacked basic needs of food and shelter for a long time.
But with each passing day, as their hope rises, the sting eases, and over the passing of time, their smiles have brightened.
Because of the happiness and renewed sense of hope they have received here, they changed the name of their ‘mudugudu’ from ‘village of hope’ to ‘Eden.’
‘I must thank the Archbishop and the diocese for having brought us here,’ confesses Martin Mbanzimana, an S5 student at Martyrs High School, ‘we had lost all hope of ever getting a home that we call our own. We would leave school for holidays and room around town like birds.’
The residents of this home bear similar testimonies, that of hope coming from their ashes. The leader of the orphans, Murenzi Teresifori, who considers himself the first born child of the family at the Eden village said that there is nothing on this earth that they lack as much as affection.
‘Your coming here is of great importance to us because it gives us hope that out there, there are still people that care and it actually adds meaning to our life.’
The head of children’s ministry at the church, Mukankusi Speciose, revealed plans of expanding the village by building 26 more houses in addition to the existing 19.
This will enable the village to cater for more orphans. Unfortunately, financial constraints have hindered the accomplishment of these plans.
Rev. Agnes Mukandoli the Caretaker of the English service at St. Peter’s Remera who was also part of the delegation encouraged the orphans to consider visitors not only as friends but also as parents.
She stressed that life will not always be easy for them unless they find people with whom they can share their problems. ‘These people you can see here have great love for you. That’s why they are here now. They have left their weekend schedules in order to come and share love with you.’
Mukandoli called upon the youth to always pray and have faith in God because he is a dependable friend. The need for society to provide these and other orphans with psychological support and counseling in order to avoid any more cases of trauma cannot be over stated.
In addition to the food items and household provision visiting groups take to the home, they also need to be showered with love and compassion.