In the Level 1 retreat the women shared their stories of pain and suffering. Now in Level 2 they are sharing their journeys of healing. There were many stories but the one that came through frequently was the movement from isolation and loneliness to finding a community where they feel safe and valued. The retreats have given them a family where they can share their lives. The day was filled with joy and laughter.
The women have found healing and now they want to find ways of reaching other people in Rwanda to help them heal. They have so many needs but their thoughts turn to helping others.
In addition to sharing, the women and girls love the creativity of colouring and painting.
Kae Neufeld making a home visit.
The women that YEGO visits all have something in common. They all struggled with loneliness but now they have a community that cares about them. They are grateful for visitors because then they know they are not forgotten. They have all experienced love in their lives as a result of the retreats.
Carolyn interviewed four more people who are interested in computer-assisted learning. She is now compiling all the profiles so that that local staff can select proper programs.
Carolyn Neufeld interviewing students for computer-assisted learning.
Did you know?
The government of Rwanda gives vulnerable families a cow to help them with milk for themselves as well as the option to sell the extra. They are required to give the first calf to another needy family.
The distribution of cows outside the YEGO Centre provides a pleasant background “moosic.”
Closing day, 2019 women’s retreat.
Retreat leader Kae Neufeld says, “Even one story makes the trip worthwhile, but there are so many more.” Here is one such story.
One of the youth asked on Friday if she could tell her story to one of the leaders rather than in a group. On Saturday she was so concerned about what others knew about her, feeling so embarrassed, afraid of being known. Last night she made herself vulnerable to Carolyn who spent time with her. Carolyn discovered that this girl is a poet and encouraged her to share her poem. Today she stood up in the large group and recited her poem describing her challenges. It was so powerful that we had to pass around the box of tissues. This afternoon she got on the bus, no longer ashamed but beaming as she embraced her new friends. She now has a place where she is safe.
Everyone at the retreat gets a “mailbox” where others deliver notes of compassion, encouragement and support. These are brought home and treasured.
Emmanuel Gatera doing a craft at the healing retreat.
Retreat Day 2
It has been a full day of games, singing, crafts and storytelling. The women and youth are bonding, feeling safe to share difficult stories. They closed the day with singing and an evening blessing. Instead of heading for bed, the women sat in circle and sang. What a rich way to end the day.
In Kigali, a youth group of 18 girls has formed. They have all been part of previous retreats and stay in touch via social media. They meet together as well. Another 8 from this retreat will have a youth group to move into.
Tomorrow will be the last day of the retreat with this group. As Kae Neufeld states, “It is rewarding to know that, as they say, they now have a family where they belong.”
The women and girls arrive for the retreat.
The sessions started with singing, and the dancing followed. Tossing bean bags across the room in rapid succession had everyone laughing and ducking to avoid being hit.
Kae Neufeld taught two lessons separated by a tea break and then the women started telling their stories. It didn’t take long before the boxes of tissue were required. Kae says, “Having heard so many stories over the years has not provided immunity from having my heart broken once again.”
Tomorrow deals with forgiveness and finding healing.
As part of the evening blessing, Carolyn taught the group the song, “Angels Above Me.” A group of women gathered in the evening and continued singing this song. It was so meaningful to them.