Volcano erupts near Goma, Congo

5000 flee into Rwanda after volcanic eruption

At least 15 people have died as a result of the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo last Saturday night. The spread of lava stopped just short of Goma, eastern Congo’s hub for trade and transport. More than 500 homes were destroyed and property was damaged in 17 villages surrounding the area. More than 170 children are still missing.

The Washington Post, May 22, 2021

An aerial view shows lava flowing from the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo near Goma, Congo, on May 22. (Monusco/Via Reuters)

“Panic spread as we were in contact with the residents of the north of the city who from their roofs could see the path of the lava as it made its way to the airport,” said Patient Iraguha, a resident of Rwanda who works in Goma.

“Information was circulating in all directions,” he told The Washington Post Sunday from Rwanda. “During this time no official statement dictated any instructions, and nothing came out on the radio like on national television to give the right information on the direction of the lava and the escape route to take.”

The coronavirus pandemic has created unusual uncertainty at the Congo-Rwanda border crossing at Goma, which is one of the world’s busiest, seeing tens of thousands of people cross on foot each day. While the border remains open, confusion over temperature checks and other monitoring measures put in place added to the chaos, Iraguha said.

People are seen walking near smoldering ashes early morning in Goma, Congo, on May 23 following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. (Moses Sawasawa/AFP/Getty Images)

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/22/congo-volcano-eruption-nyiragongo/

CBC, May 23, 2021

Aline Bichikwebo and her baby managed to escape when the lava flow reached her village, but said both her mother and father were among those who perished. Community members gave a provisional toll of 10 dead in Bugamba alone, though provincial authorities said it was too soon to know how many lives were lost.

Bichikwebo says she tried to rescue her father but wasn’t strong enough to move him to safety before the family’s home was ignited by lava.

“I am asking for help because everything we had is gone,” she said, clutching her baby. “We don’t even have a pot. We are now orphans and we have nothing.”

“People are still panicking and are hungry,” resident Alumba Sutoye said. “They don’t even know where they are going to spend the night.”

Residents said there was little warning before the dark sky turned a fiery red, sending people running for their lives in all directions. Smoke rose from smouldering heaps of lava in the Buhene area near the city.

“We have seen the loss of almost an entire neighbourhood,” said Innocent Bahala Shamavu. “All the houses in Buhene neighbourhood were burned, and that’s why we are asking all the provincial authorities and authorities at the national level, as well as all the partners, all the people of good faith in the world, to come to the aid of this population.”

Residents check the damage caused by lava from the overnight eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in Buhene, on the outskirts of Goma, early Sunday. (Justin Kabumba/The Associated Press)

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/congo-volcano-eruption-mount-nyiragongo-1.6037980


YEGO Rwanda founder Emmanuel Gatera has been in touch to assure us that all YEGO staff and beneficiaries are safe.

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Remember and Rebuild

Rwandans are remembering the 100 days of the 27th Genocide Memorial. They remember more than one million Tutsi – babies, children, youth, men, women and elders – killed in just 100 days. During this critical period of remembrance, most Rwandans and peace-loving people from all over the world stand with the survivors of the 1994 Genocide, as they fondly and sadly remember their lost and missed mums, dads, children, siblings, aunties, uncles, friends and neighbours killed in inhuman conditions. These lost family and friends were so special to them, inspired them and were their models, sources of hope for their lives and future. In losing them, they were shattered, traumatized, living in despair without hope or meaning.

Emmanuel and Athanasie stand by the eternal flame at the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda

After 27 years of struggle with trauma and despair, the survivors are on their healing journey and hope to rebuild themselves. They are now aware that they need a peaceful and safe Rwanda for themselves, their new families and children, and future grandchildren. They are also aware that forgiveness is an important factor to ensure there is peace, reconciliation, unity and healing.

They have responded positively to the campaign of forgiveness, unity and reconciliation under the motto, “Ndi Umunyarwanda,” meaning, “I am Rwandan.” This campaign is carried out by the government of Rwanda‘s agency for unity and reconciliation. It appeals to all citizens of Rwanda to feel proudly Rwandan first before claiming belonging to a particular ethnic group.

On a positive note, we rejoice that some survivors have worked hard and become integrated in the socio-economic life of Rwanda. They feel safe and hopeful. They work to earn a living but they still have traumatic memories and need recovery. Some of the women survivors of the 1994 Genocide are still deeply affected by mild trauma.

Those not targeted by the 1994 Genocide but who witnessed its extreme violence also suffer from guilt, shame, mild trauma and depression. People with such health issues are unable to work for a living.

Emmanuel delivers food and visits with Diane, a survivor of trauma

Great appreciation goes to the government of Rwanda and other stakeholders who regularly provide support to these vulnerable people in terms of medical treatment, housing, education and other needs. YEGO Rwanda, with limited resources from its sister charitable organization YEGO Canada, is proud to make its small contribution towards trauma healing, education and food distribution among these vulnerable Rwandans.

YEGO Rwanda and YEGO Canada stand with the survivors during this critical time, wish comfort and healing to the survivors and is always committed to supporting their healing in any way possible in the future.

Emmanuel Gatera, April 20, 2021, Kigali

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Letter from Emmanuel


After months of recovering from the first lockdown, our numbers hit quite the peak this January and many lives have been lost. With 15,834 cases and 208 deaths all in the span of a year, it wasn’t a surprise that another lockdown was issued on January 18, 2021.

Some YEGO beneficiaries have also tested positive for corona virus. As we follow up with them through phone calls, we know of two who are currently sick. They are being treated and taken care of as we continue to pray and hope for the best of recoveries.

In addition, some of YEGO’s single mothers have been trying to pick themselves up after the last lockdown. But they are now facing many challenges in this lockdown because as the cases increase, the rules get stricter. Many are having difficulties feeding their families. Most of these households have young children who are part of Gatesi Day Care, but now spend all day with their mothers who have no way to provide food for them.

We approached the police and local authorities, in consultation with our board, to get permission to shop for and distribute food to our beneficiaries. Divine and Athanasie did the shopping at Kabuga centre while I packed the food for transportation (see image). We provided 10 households (35 members) with:

  • 5 kg rice
  • 5 kg maize flour
  • 5 kg sugar
  • 1 L cooking oil
  • 1 bar of washing soap
  • 1 packet of salt

The distribution of food took place yesterday, Feb 3 at Kabuga for three households living near the market centre, then at our Masaka office for four households that live near the office. Thereafter we drove to Kanombe, Remera and Kimironko where we provided food to the remaining three households.

As we came together with these beneficiaries, they were overjoyed because of the support provided by the YEGO family (Rwanda and Canada) who decided to help them have food at their table at least for a week.

Our thanks to YEGO Canada and all our donors for the great support to YEGO Rwanda. It is making a difference in the lives of our beneficiaries at a very critical time of history when the world is grappling with a deadly pandemic that is ravaging humanity.


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COVID in Kigali

Lockdown and the need for food

Kigali is in lockdown – again – to help curb the spread of COVID-19 which is on the rise. The city had just undergone two weeks of lockdown, which has now been extended for at least another week.

During a lockdown, vulnerable people can’t go out to work. Many YEGO recipients, mainly single women, rely on casual daily labour to earn enough to feed themselves and their children.

How this affects YEGO

YEGO has discovered that some of its beneficiaries have tested positive for the virus. Some have recovered and some are still sick. Some have called for help.

The police and local government must give permission for people to move about the city. YEGO staff have thankfully received this permission and are undertaking to get food supplies to those who need it.

How you can help

A little goes a long way in Rwanda and right now, your donation goes directly to buying and distributing food to the people who need it. Your donation makes a big difference.

Donate online

Visit https://www.saintandrewsunited.com/. Click on the “Donate Now” button and select YEGO Rwanda under “Fund.”

Send a cheque

Canadian donors: Payable to St. Andrew’s United Church for YEGO Rwanda, 9915-148 St., Edmonton, AB T5N 3G1. Please ensure your contact information is included with your gift so we can thank you and send you a tax receipt.

International and US donors: Payable to YEGO Rwanda, P.O. Box 5536, Kigali, Rwanda

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Last Chance for a 2020 Tax Receipt

If you’re thinking of helping YEGO Rwanda this year, time is running out to receive a Canadian tax receipt for 2020. If you’ve already donated, thank you! Your support goes a long way to providing hope to vulnerable people in Rwanda.

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Hope in action

Graduation – Computer Assisted Learning

Thanks to ongoing donations, YEGO is able to offer programs that provide hope to vulnerable Rwandans. One example is the Computer Assisted Learning program. With a certificate of completion, students can go on to further education or employment.

Other YEGO programs that provide hope include:

  • counselling and healing retreats
  • daycare
  • emergency food and and personal items
  • health insurance
  • music and dance
  • school sponsorship and supplies
  • sewing centre
  • sports for children
  • supplies for micro-financing projects

How you can help provide hope

Donate online

Visit https://www.saintandrewsunited.com/. Click on the “Donate Now” button and select YEGO Rwanda under “Fund.”

Send a cheque

Canadian donors: Payable to St. Andrew’s United Church for YEGO Rwanda, 9915-148 St., Edmonton, AB T5N 3G1. Please ensure your contact information is included with your gift so we can thank you and send you a tax receipt.

International and US donors: Payable to YEGO Rwanda, P.O. Box 5536, Kigali, Rwanda

There’s still time to make a donation before the end of the year and qualify for a tax receipt. Thank you!

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Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday means Giving Hope

YEGO is about giving hope to vulnerable Rwandans

Healing retreats give people the opportunity to tell their stories and form friendships that bring them out of isolation.

Providing food for the hungry brings hope when they know someone cares about them.

Computer classes provide people with new skills and opportunities for employment.

Sewing machines give women independence as they create new projects.

Quality daycare gives mothers the opportunity to go to work to earn a living.

Supplies assist groups with their micro-financing projects.

Dance provides youth with opportunities for healing, friendship, leadership and employment.

Academic sponsorship, school and sports supplies give children and youth real hope for the future.

How you can give hope to Rwandans

Your gift can change the lives of these vulnerable people. YEGO Rwanda is grateful for every contribution.

To donate online:

Visit https://www.saintandrewsunited.com/

Click on the “Donate Now” button and select YEGO Rwanda under “Fund.”

To send a cheque:

Canadian donors: Payable to St. Andrew’s United Church for YEGO Rwanda, 9915-148 St., Edmonton, AB T5N 3G1. Please ensure your contact information is included with your gift so we can thank you and send you a tax receipt.

International and US donors: Payable to YEGO Rwanda, P.O. Box 5536, Kigali, Rwanda

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Annual Report, Budget and Action Plan

Like many of us, YEGO Rwanda has had to pivot to adapt to living in a global pandemic. During a lockdown, many people in Rwanda couldn’t get out to make a living and were in urgent need of items like food, soap and sanitary supplies. Funds that would have normally been spent on programs like Computer-Assisted Learning, Dance or Sewing, were redirected to help meet these needs.

To read how YEGO has coped with this extraordinary year, see:

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COVID Update #2

After almost three months of lockdown in Rwanda, the government started slowly opening up some activities such as bus travel, and public and private business. In reopening businesses, the government was giving a breathing space for the national economy and day-to-day opportunities for the people in Rwanda. But this was being done with only limited staff to avoid the quick spreading of the virus.

By mid-August the numbers of COVID-19 cases increased by the hundreds and was regarded as a peak. A lockdown was issued in some provinces such as the western and north west provinces of Rusizi and Rubavu. People in Kigali weren’t allowed to go to these provinces and the isolated provinces weren’t allowed to enter Kigali. In fact, some areas of Kigali where COVID-19 was found were also locked down until the spread of the virus had disappeared. This took about two months.

Currently, the lockdown in some parts of Kigali and in the provinces has been terminated because of the significant decrease of COVID-19 in these areas. As cases are rotating between one and 35 nationally, almost everything is reopening but with the focus on preventative measures such as hand sanitizing or washing and using face masks.

About a week ago I talked with some of the children who attend Gatesi Excellence Day Care. They complained that their moms told them they can’t go to school because of the corona virus. They do not understand why they cannot go to school and wish they could re-start their school. In the meantime, to express how much they miss school, some wear their uniforms at home at least once a week.

Staff are in close touch through telephone calls with the mothers who are YEGO beneficiaries. We have regular interactions and follow up with them to find out what their situations are like, and the challenges they go through due to the pandemic and its effects. The majority of these women told us how they’d almost given up because it was difficult trying to fend for themselves and their children during the lockdown.

But we kept in touch with them, provided encouragement, counselling and prayers to them. Though businesses have been reopened, many jobs and job opportunities have been lost and there are many women and households that are living in extreme poverty. They are very hungry and need food and support. For special cases of need, people in despair or sickness, YEGO staff visit the beneficiaries in their homes or hospital and provide the urgently needed support.

Due to COVID-19, it is not yet possible to organize big gathering such as the general assemblies for the women and girls. As the situation keeps improving it could be possible to have them organized in the future.

It is exciting to note that the government of Rwanda has reopened some schools early this month and plan to reopen more in November 2020. The situation is slowly coming back to normalcy and Rwandans are now trying hard to cope with COVID-19 and find ways to survive. This requires them to be extra careful and cautious so as to ensure COVID-19 is contained.

As YEGO staff, we are extremely thankful to God that he has so far kept YEGO beneficiaries and us safe. We also hope YEGO donors and YEGO Canada board have been safe and we also send prayers to those who have the corona virus or have family or friends with corona that God can heal them.

Emmanuel Gatera

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COVID-19 Update

Emergency food distribution


During Rwanda’s coronovirus lockdown, many of YEGO’s beneficiaries, including the working poor, were unable to make money to provide food for their families. YEGO stepped up to help. By using funds earmarked for programs which were unable to run during the lockdown, YEGO was able to bring emergency food and toiletries to desperate families.

To read the full report, see: COVID19-Update(May2020)

Donations appreciated

Can you help replenish funds for YEGO programming? Programs such as healing ministries, counselling, education and school supplies, computer-assisted learning, sewing, daycare, dance and sports.

Canadian donors

If you wish to receive an income tax receipt, you can donate online through St. Andrew’s United Church. Hit the DONATE button. Under “Fund” choose YEGO Rwanda. You can specify how you’d like your donation spent under “Message for St. Andrew’s United Church.”

Alternatively, you can still make a cheque payable to St. Andrew’s United Church for YEGO Rwanda, and send to:

St. Andrew’s United Church for YEGO Rwanda
9915 148 ST NW
Edmonton, AB  T5N 3G1

Please ensure your contact information is included with your gift so we can thank you and send you a receipt.

International and US donors

Please send a cheque, payable to YEGO Rwanda, to:

YEGO Rwanda
P.O. Box: 5536
Kigali, RWANDA

Thank you! You CAN make a difference.

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