Carol Gumm and her husband first came to Rwanda in October 2007 to help widows and orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
They are residents of the United States of America who look for resources to fund projects in Rwanda involving widows and orphans.
They are partners of Solace Ministries Rwanda—an non-profit that meets the spiritual needs of people as well as provide psychological and physical care. Most of these are genocide survivors who are mostly widows and orphans. Most of these women were raped and diagnosed with HIV/AIDS after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The organization is currently reaching out to over 5,000 families of widows and orphans in 57 communities. They do this through various activities such as education, shelter, health care and counseling.
They also train widows to tailor and make handicrafts and promote agricultural projects on the plots of land they organization has acquired.
It’s through these projects that widows and orphans have become self-reliant.
With its main offices in Kigali, the organization has centers in Nyanza, Kabuga and Nyamata that are accessible to rural Rwandans.
The Gumm’s were invited by a friend who had enjoyed working with widows and orphans in the organization. They were amazed by the success of different communities of widows and orphans and were intrigued to be part of this progress.
“In 2009 we were told to support a new community allocated to us by Solace Ministries. The widow and orphans in this community had no hope and help so we were asked to partner with them and make them self-reliant,” Carol said.
Since then, they have come to Rwanda twice a year in march and October, with a team from the charity organization, ‘Internal Benefits’.
“These teams raise funds from their communities in America especially those who can’t travel and then donate the money to Solace Ministries. For instance, recently in the community of Mugina in Muhanga District, cassava was cultivated on a three- hectare plot of land which in the long run generated some income,” Carol explains.
Besides growing crops, the communities also practice bee-keeping.
“When teams come here, they meet Rwandan people in the villages and they fall in love with them. They want to help but they can’t be here all the time so when they go back home, they look for ways to improve their own communities and because if Rwanda is doing it so well, they also try to reproduce it in their own communities,” said Gumm.
The Gumms are learning Kinyarwanda and consider Rwanda as their second home—they hope to acquire dual citizenship.
“Everytime we come to visit and meet the wonderful people of Rwanda who are very accepting and loving, we consider this our second home. We come frequently to help but it’s because we feel so comfortable and at home here. We thought it would be nice to have double citizenship,” Carol adds.
Gumm says they have encountered almost no challenges while in Rwanda.
She said: “We have not encountered any challenges so far; in fact, it’s safer to walk the streets of Rwanda than walking on the streets of our countries.
“We think that Rwanda is going to be the light of the African continent, that people will need to come to Rwanda to ask how they can live in such harmony,” she said.
According Emmanuel Twahirwa, the First Legal Representative of Solace Ministries, the Gumms are kind hearted and love helping.
“I have known the couple for the last three years and they are impressed about most things in Rwanda. Above all, they are thrilled with the peace they experience here and they never hide their desire to become Rwandans,” Twahirwa said.
Twahirwa further added that it’s the social nature of Rwandans that attracts several non-residents to stay in the country.