Eliane’s story

Last week, we told you about Ruth and her daughter Berthe, and how they are working hard to heal from trauma and become self-sufficient. This week we’re focusing on Eliane. This is her story.

Eliane is now 60 years old. During the 1994 Genocide, she lost her husband and six of her children. She survived but had a baby due to rape. She was never comfortable with her daughter, who she called Agnes.

After attending YEGO Rwanda’s healing retreats in 2015 and 2016, Eliane’s attitude about her child changed. She started accepting her daughter, loving and caring for her. But she still struggled to raise her due to poverty. Most of her friends refused to support her because Agnes was a product of one of the criminals who raped her mother.

Eliane remarried and had five more children. Her second husband disliked Agnes and harassed her. He wanted Eliane to chase her away from their home. Eliane decided not to send her daughter away, but to stand up for her instead. She divorced her husband, took her five children and went to live with Agnes.

Life became very challenging for Eliane, with no food for her children and no money for rent. YEGO Rwanda supported her with counselling, food, and school fees for three of her children, including Agnes.

Agnes was brilliant at school. At the end of secondary school in 2018, she was one of the best performers on the national exam. She later won a foreign scholarship for university studies in the US.

While Agnes was at university, she took small jobs during her free time, and managed to save some money. In 2021, thanks to her savings, Agnes was able to buy a house for her mum within the city of Kigali.

How you can help

If you would like to help families like Eliane’s, click here to donate.

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Women making a difference

YEGO staff identified two women’s stories we have a lot to learn from. Thanks to their trauma healing, resilience, endurance, creativity, love of justice, stamina and hard work, they were able to make a great difference in their homes, zones and communities. This is the story of one of those women.

Ruth is 55 years old and a survivor of the 1994 Genocide. During the Genocide, she lost her husband, three children and her siblings. She was raped and infected with AIDS. She later had a boyfriend, and they had a daughter Berthe. Ruth decided not to marry him but to remain single and raise her daughter.

Ruth got in touch with YEGO and participated in the first healing retreat. It was decided to support Ruth with counselling and food and provide her daughter with educational support.

Ruth sold tomatoes on the streets out of her basket to make a living. But as this is illegal, she could not continue doing this. She also attempted making envelops out of old journals to sell them to shoppers. This business wasn’t sustainable because of stiff competition. Later she lost her capital. As the situation was getting out of hand, in consultation with her daughter, she decided to start a new business of charcoal selling. But Ruth did not have the capital.

Her daughter Berthe, who has been part of YEGO’s therapeutic music and dance program, saved all the money she received as support for transportation. She made her savings over two years on her account and was able to rescue her mother. She gave her mother 20,000frs ($27 CAD). Ruth then began her charcoal business, selling bits of charcoal out of a big bag.

Now, after 7 months, Ruth is selling charcoal out of 10 bags. Now they have what they need but still need some counselling support and school fees for Berthe.

Ruth selling charcoal

$27 CAD helped Ruth’s family become self-sufficient. If you would like to help families like Ruth’s, click here to learn how.

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Graduation Day

Graduation Day at Gatesi Excellence Daycare

Today, 14 of our students graduated from Gatesi Excellence Daycare. The graduates – 11 boys and 3 girls – will soon be moving on to elementary school. While attending our daycare, they received care, love and life foundation skills including:

  • reading and writing
  • numbers
  • English and some French
  • drawing, singing and playing in groups

When the children first came to daycare, they arrived with a lot of anger and trauma. Some were hungry and malnourished. But they have healed, and are now happy and healthy.

Thanks for your support which has made a great difference in the lives of these children!

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Update from Emmanuel

YEGO Rwanda Update: July 2021

These last few months, Rwanda has experienced various events and situations – some sad and some celebratory.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is rampant and getting worse. Last year we often had less than 100 new cases daily, but now we have close to 1,000 new infections and more that 10 deaths per day. It’s scary. We have friends both old and young who have died. Some were our neighbours. There’s panic among the people because of the rise of the virus, especially due to the new variant which is even more deadly.

YEGO Rwanda Beneficiaries

We know only one woman who got sick from COVID-19, two months ago. She spent three weeks in the hospital but she has healed. Many people here are depressed, worried because of this terrible virus which has significantly affected their social, economic, physical and psychological lives. The situation is bad. The challenge is that if infection rates don’t decrease soon, our hospitals may become overwhelmed and access to medical treatment will be difficult.

Food Distribution

Each month we supply food to 10 families who are most needy. We strictly observe health measures against COVID-19. During this stressful time, we keep in touch with our beneficiaries and provide them with counselling by telephone and a few visits, especially to those who are unwell.

Gatesi Excellence Daycare

The daycare has been doing well. We have 79 children and 5 staff. Their second quarter recently ended well. We are happy that none of them caught COVID-19. The majority of these children come from vulnerable families with malnutrition. We have made efforts to ensure they get healthy nutrition when they are with us. We have recently added milk to their menu.

Volcano

Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the north of Rwanda, near the border with the Republic Democratic of Congo.

This volcanic eruption caused deaths and infrastructure damage to many houses and roads.

July 4

July 4th marks the end of the 1994 Genocide memorial, a three-month period of mourning over the killing of more than 1 million Rwandans. July 4th is also a day of liberation for Rwandans to celebrate the defeat of the evil forces that committed Genocide. This liberation put an end to the refugee status of thousands of Rwandan Tutsi who spent more than 30 years of exile in the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Uganda, Congo and Tanzania.

Staff Vacation

YEGO Rwanda staff have been working so hard without rest. From June 17-22 we took a 5-day vacation at Kingfisher Resort, located 60 kms north of Kigali near Muhazi Lake. It was a great time for us to relax. We used two hours a day together to reflect upon our work, evaluate and think about the future of our ministry. We used the rest of our time for a personal retreat. We returned very relaxed and determined to do more to make a difference for our people. The pictures testify that we had a good time.

Submitted by : Emmanuel Gatera

P. O. Box 5536 Kigali – Rwanda

Tel: +250 788301878 / 0788759414 | Email: yegorwanda11@gmail.com

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Rwandan Independence Day/Canada Day

July 1 is observed every year in Rwanda as the day the country gained independence from Belgian colonial rule in 1962. July 1 is also Canada Day, the anniversary of Canadian Confederation, which occurred on July 1, 1867.

To celebrate the Rwandan/Canadian connection, I hope you enjoy this video of Rwandan-born Canadian performer Shad. (Notice the ketchup chips at the start – a very Canadian thing.)

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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

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

FOOD DISTRIBUTION DURING KIGALI’s SECOND LOCKDOWN

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.

Emmanuel

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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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