The CAL program aims to help women and youth who have not had a chance to go to university. It’s a 6-month program, offered free of charge. The first class graduated this week! Below is a picture of them proudly displaying their completion certificates. The second class is ready to begin. For more information about the program, see: Update on computer-assisted learning or More than a computer class
Dance and music program
Students from the program performed as part of the celebrations to recognize the first CAL program graduates and to officially open the new sewing program.
Kae Neufeld writes:
After we cut the ribbon for the new sewing centre we had a demonstration of how to use the machines. Then our first student threaded a machine and sewed some stitches.
With new sewing machines from India, and sewing supplies brought from Canada, YEGO is ready to start its sewing centre! Although no instructions were provided, the team managed to assemble two working machines.
While the first day was filled with laughter, singing, teaching and storytelling, there is so much pain and trauma that still needs healing. Unlike previous retreats, all the women participating this time were educated professionals.
Participants and leaders of women’s healing retreat
After Mackensy led morning exercises, the women continued to tell their stories. In past retreats, lessons would start by 10 am. But a strong need to share meant that their lesson on Psalm 23 didn’t start until 3 pm. Each woman was given a sheep to place on the scene and tell why she had chosen that spot. At one point, a small bird flew into the room. At first it appeared to be dead, but a little care and water soon enabled it to rejoin its flock.
The final lesson was on using our gifts, no matter how ordinary they may be, to serve others. The women heard a story about “bucket fillers” – people who do kind things to make others happy. At lunch one of the women stood at the start of the food line handing everyone a plate and greeting them. She found a way to be a bucket filler right after the lesson. The women also used their creativity to make yarn dolls.
The women touched the retreat leaders’ hearts with a beautiful dance and song to show their appreciation.
Editors note: This just in from Kae Neufeld, Mackensy Cumin and Susan Dueck who are in Rwanda to help deliver healing retreats to YEGO recipients. It’s so perfect, and has such a beautiful lesson of patience and gratitude, that I reproduce it here in its entirety.
Challenge: The van needed air in the tires before we headed south to the Retreat Centre.
Miracle: We found a service station with a working air pump after only the third try.
Challenge: After about an hour and a half on the road our ride turned very bumpy.
Miracle: On the narrow road with no shoulders we were next to a turn out.
Challenge: We had a very flat tire.
Miracle: Jimmy our driver is a mechanic.
Challenge: The back of the van was piled high with our luggage and retreat supplies.
Miracle: When we unloaded everything and got at the spare tire it had air in it.
Challenge: We now needed a new tire because the spare was a small one for short trips only.
Miracle: The next service station was nearby.
Challenge: They had no tires.
Miracle: The fellow there hopped onto the back of a motorcycle and guided us to a station that had tires.
Challenge: They had tires here but there was no one who could sell us one.
Miracle: Jimmy, our driver, had a friend in the next village who could help us.
Challenge: In our rush to get a tire we were stopped by the police for speeding.
Miracle: Emmanuel, in his own words, humbled himself and pleaded our case, saying we were extremely sorry and that we would not speed again. No ticket.
Challenge: To meet up with Jimmy’s friend.
Miracle: We found him and the shop had a tire.
Challenge: We had to unload all the luggage again to get at the tire and put the spare tire back.
Miracle: The ground was dry so our luggage did not get dirty.
Challenge: The back door of the van would not stay up.
Miracle: Mackensy was tall enough to hold it up while all the unloading and loading took place.
Challenge: The used tire that was available had some holes.
Miracle: Plugs were inserted and the tire held air.
Challenge: We were two hours late for lunch at the Retreat Centre.
Miracle: There was a lovely hot lunch waiting for us.
Dr. Kae Neufeld, Mackensy Cumin and Susan Dueck from Edmonton have arrived in Kigali to help with the important work of YEGO Rwanda. Werner De Jong, pastor at Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, will be joining them in March to help with the retreat for male youth. The leadership team is planning for these upcoming retreats:
Feb 28 – Mar 1: Walking Together in Hope, women and girls
Mar 6 – 8: Kindness and Compassion, previous retreat participants
Mar 13 – 15: Peace and Reconciliation, male youth
In preparation for setting up a YEGO sewing centre, the group plans to shop for sewing machines while in Kigali. Kae has also collected scissors, thread, pins and needles, measuring tapes, zippers, buttons and various other sewing aids to get things started. As Athanasie knows how to crochet and knit, Kae has brought along supplies to teach others these skills as well.
Presentation to teachers
In the evening, Susan delivered a presentation on stress to teachers at Kigali Parents School. It was well received. Susan has a background in training and working with therapy dogs and is experienced with working with people who are stressed.
Dance, music and drama help youth heal from social isolation, despair and anger which characterize trauma and depression. It is both therapeutic and an income‐generating program, developing skills that can lead to job opportunities. In 2019, 10 youth were hired by various cultural dancing clubs in Kigali. These are paid positions that enable the youth to earn a living.
The annual Christmas party gathers together the vulnerable children and youth sponsored by YEGO Rwanda. It’s a time for them to meet, celebrate Christmas and the end of the year, and make plans for the new year.
The 2019 Christmas party took place on December 23 at Kigali Parents School. Forty-three children and youth attended, as well as three YEGO Rwanda staff, a guest speaker and a guest of honour.