YEGO Rwanda is a non-denominational Christian NGO founded to care for Genocide survivors and vulnerable youth, to assist them in healing psychologically from their traumatic experiences, and to promote the development of a culture of peace and tolerance. Yego also works with traumatized women, giving them opportunities to heal, to raise their children and develop themselves. As part of this mission, Yego delivers healing retreats for women and youth.
The retreats are unique three-day weekend retreats that are conducted in the lush Gihindamuyaga monastery resort located in Huye district, three hours away from Kigali. The purpose of these retreats is to provide healing for women who have faced various tragedies in their lives. This ministry began in March 2015 with one retreat for only 23 women. By 2020, three retreats were held in the spring that served:
- professional women attending for the first time
- returning women and girls
- young men
The retreats can be defined simply as time spent away from one’s normal life for the purpose of sharing one’s story with fellow participants and reconnecting, usually in prayer, with God. These retreats were historically targeted to women and girls from low income backgrounds mainly because that is a fair representation of the average Rwandan woman, but also because they are the ones most in need. But two additional retreats were added in 2020 to accommodate the needs of professional women and young men as well.
The women’s Healing ministry under Yego Rwanda, has in total eight volunteers and one facilitator, Dr. Kae Neufeld of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. These volunteers known as the “Core team” help run the day-to-day affairs of the ministry. Two of these volunteers are Yego Rwanda founders and directors Pastor Emmanuel and Athanasie Gatera. There is the administrator and accountant, Divine Irakoze, and 6 women who make up the rest of the core team, They include Martine, Josephine, Annick, Cassilde, Chantal and Athanasie. Grace Gatera serves a translator and represents girls on the core group. These women attended the first retreat, and after that they decided to volunteer their time and effort to help grow the ministry.
The core team helps with planning, logistics, communications, and strategizing for the retreats. They also are coordinators for “zones”, small fellowship groups where women who have been to the retreats gather monthly to catch up and pray. The core team does all of this voluntary work even though they themselves still have struggles with money and taking care of themselves.
Grace also helps with the translation from Kinyarwanda to English and back as she is fluent in both languages.