Monday, July 14, 2008

A Child in Rwanda -- Compassion International

Heads up. This is not my typical post. It tells about my other Compassion child in Rwanda, but also deals a bit with the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. I hope you'll still read, but it is just very different from my other posts.

As I write, the things I sent for Delia and her family are in Ecuador. My friend left yesterday on her trip. I'm praying that everything went well.

But I wanted to introduce you to the other little girl I sponsor. I recently received an updated photo. I think she looks taller in this picture than the last.

Kayirangwa is 9 and she lives in Rwanda. Rwanda is a small country in Africa. How, you might ask, did I get from sponsoring a child in Ecuador to sponsoring one in Rwanda?

Several years ago, I read a book called The Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World by Gary A. Haugen. Gary is the president of International Justice Mission. It is an organization that works with victims of slavery, exploitation, and violent oppression. No, this is not light reading. But it is important reading!

I think I was gripped with the opening paragraph. He talks about making his typical commute one morning in 1994 and having the thought of saying to his fellow travelers, "Excuse me, friends, but did you know that less than forty-eight hours ago I was standing in the middle of several thousand corpses in a muddy mass grave in a tiny African country called Rwanda?"

What? 1994? I remember thinking that those things just didn't happen any more. I had consigned them to the Holocaust and World War II.

But they do happen, like most things of that nature, for little or no reason (or rather exaggerated reason). The Rwandan genocide was between the Tutsi and Hutu people of Rwanda. The Hutu militia and every day civilians killed their neighbors -- anyone of Tutsi descent or anyone perceived as sympathetic to the Tutsi. Most estimates of the death toll are 800,000 to the 1,000,000 mark. Supposedly, it was fueled by the belief that the Tutsi and Hutu are very different and with one being superior. Sigh. In reality, there is very little genetic difference. All of that death took place in 100 days.

Perhaps one of the saddest aspects is that the world looked on and did very little to stop the escalating violence. President Clinton apologized during his term. But it makes me wonder if it wasn't a bit like World War II. There were rumors of concentration camps but we didn't step in until attacked.

I was surprised by the book and my own ignorance of the situation. I do well to keep up on local news. Global news is hard to grasp. Still, I think I should do better.

Delia caught my heart because of language (I cannot speak it but I took Spanish in high school and college) and the relative closeness of Ecuador. Kayirnagwa caught my heart because of reading that book and that sadness that anything like that could happen so recently. It was only 14 years ago. At 9 she wouldn't have been born yet, but I am sure her parents were. What an awful thing to have lived through. What a difficult thing to heal from -- whatever side you were on.

I came across a 2007 newsletter from Compassion about Rwanda. It shares the story of Emmanuel. His mother had survived the devastation but had hardened her heart. How could God care if all of those things had happened? But Emmanuel was enrolled in Compassion and became a Christian. Each morning he knelt to pray. Still, his mother wasn't interested.

In 2006 there was a drought. His mother wanted to flee the country in search of relief. Emmanuel told her not to, that his Compassion center was providing rations to families affected by the famine. At first she didn't believe him, but he convinced her to go and see. The workers loaded her with rice and water. As a result of Emmanuel's witness and Compassion's practical intervention, his mother became a Christian.

That is how I got from the United States and Ecuador to Rwanda. I know that Kayirangwa likes to jump rope and play games and that she has chores. I do not know how she or her family might have been impacted by what happened. But still, I hope, that in some small way my giving to her gives her hope and healing for her family and the tiniest bit of healing for her country. I am thankful that I know a God who can multiply what I give and what Emmanuel's sponsor gave a million times over.

Now, if any of you know of anyone going to Rwanda, I'd love to be able to send Kayirangwa something like I did for Delia!

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tiggerdaisy said...

Girl, you have so totally touched my heart! I teach history and political science at the local college, so in every class I teach we have a session totally devoted to genocide. Rwanda is the main topic for certain.

Thanks for bringing this to light on your blog! And my friend, the reason you nor I really heard about this in 1994 or any year thereafter is that it is NOT reported in the news. My students are stunned to learn that these types of things are going on and they don't know about it. And it's not just 18 year olds saying mid-fifty year olds are too. Sad isn't it? Something this big and this horrendous goes silent on the media circuits. hmmmm

Prayers and blessings,

Anonymous said...

Wonderful words Amy! Thank you for sharing this. I hope and pray many read and many respond.

God bless.


Nancy said...

I wish I knew someone going to Rwanda, but I don't. We have sponsored a little girl in India for almost 5 years and I have kept all her pictures. I suppose we will not meet her until heaven, but it's a pleasure to assister her here on earth.

Lyn said...

I was equally gripped by Haugen's testimony of Rwanda as well, You might be interested in checking out his latest book, Just Courage ( which talks about why we need to continue pursuing justice. -Lyn from IJM HQ

Lyn said...

I was equally gripped by Haugen's testimony of Rwanda as well, You might be interested in checking out his latest book, Just Courage ( which talks about why we need to continue pursuing justice. -Lyn from IJM HQ