First Visit to Kigali Rwanda in May 2010
My wife Karen and I (Gary Janzen) had a great opportunity to visit Rwanda for the first time in May 2010, after being in Uganda with Compassion Canada viewing their work in that country.
We were able to tack on our side trip to Rwanda to see first hand some of the things that our adopted Rwandese son Jackson, was telling us about his home country Rwanda. The whole experience did not disappoint!
Karen and I were treated with great honor and respect while in Rwanda, and we felt very humbled by the servants of God that we had the privilege to stay with and follow in Compassion Canada’s ministry endeavors. It gave us perspective on who we are, what we have, and what we could do to help in very impactful ways.
Karen and I came to the place that we could, in our simple skill sets have a great impact on a nation, but what could that be?
Pastor Leo Rucibigango who was hosting us in his home. I remember he said that his spare bedroom, Room 4, was always open to us at any time.
Here is an article from a local Rwanda newspaper about Pastor Leo’s life and ministry, link: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/read/102887/ .
Pastor Leo took us to a school he started up in the Western province of Rwanda close to the border of Congo. It was an all day affair as we drove up to the school close to the border town of Ruhingeri, and we drove back down to Kigali in the same day. Pastor Leo, Karen, and I spent about 4 hours with the students and staff. It was so humbling and touching for Karen and I, as they treated us in appreciation as if we were the most important people and amazing supporters of the work there.
There was a long drive-way to get on to Pastor Leo’s school property from the main road. We stopped as soon as we got on to the drive-way and got out of the vehicle. I thought maybe it was too rough of a road for our 4 wheel drive vehicle to go over, but no, the school of about 400 children were waiting for us and they came running down the drive-way with their special troop of singers and dancers leading. At this point the show began, the students were singing and dancing up all the way down the long drive-way. We could only walk at the pace they allowed us to, and then they steered us into a large open field where they had placed enough chairs to hold our four-person group to sit and enjoy their performance. For the next 45 to 60 minutes we were treated to the traditional dancing and singing by numerous costumed children while the balance of the student body stood facing us creating a stage between us where all the festivities were happening.
After everything was done, Pastor Leo asked if we could provide a soft drink for each of the students there. Not being prepared for that but so grateful for the amazing honor that was bestowed upon us, we commissioned a teacher to run into town to buy the soft drinks!
I can only imagine to local shopkeepers’ excitement when we asked for 400 soft drinks!
We spent time with the administration, and had various presentations from students displaying their talents and gifts while we were all waiting for the soft drinks to arrive.
The student body was so orderly, polite and grateful for a simple bottle of a soft drink. It was almost overwhelming.
When I think back about my experience I see the hope in people’s eyes. Despite unfortunate circumstances, the kids practicing the power of giving through their performance and hospitality really touched me.
As of this writing in 2018, that school has closed down and re-opened as a trades school and I’m told that many of those same students are there again learning a trade.