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Hope Story from Rwanda

And we know that in all things God works

for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

A Reflection about Nikuze Hannah Blessing, a child of Jean Bosco Ntakirutimana and Providence Nzayisenga

 

As a newly married couple, my wife Providence and I were highly looking forward to a bright future with expectations of being parents. Consequently, this expectation was shattered within a day. On Friday, May 13, 2011, my wife gave birth to premature triplets. During delivery, we lost a son and a daughter, but Blessing was taken into an incubator for survival. We were in a dilemma and wondering where God had turned. Having two funerals for our two babies was a pain beyond bearing, yet we also thought another funeral for our third child was on the way. However, after many prayers, on June 22, Blessing no longer had to be in an incubator. She came home.

After three months at home, we realized she had eye problems. After doctor visits and communication with friends both in Rwanda and abroad, we were told that her eyes would likely not be repaired. This was another frustration, but we trusted God and He finally provided the means to get to CCBRT hospital in Tanzania. We spent a month there for blood transfusions before attempting the eye operation. Afterward, doctors said that the operation may not be successful and they didn’t think there was any hospital in the world that could restore Blessing’s eyesight.

As a Christian and Theologian with an MA in Theology, I felt that I needed to do something to help ministers of the Gospel who have no Biblical knowledge and also to help vulnerable communities, the blind in particular. I formed a religious based organization, Hillside Hope, in 2013 and it was officially registered in 2015. Friends in Canada provided some of the educational material to help the school begin. Michele Dudley, a board member of Education Equals Hope, provided the money to rent the school. Education Equals Hope helps us meet some of the operational costs of the school. Blessing School for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) opened on January 26, 2015.

God turned our family’s situation with Blessing into a blessing to the other children who live with blindness without hope. They are now at the school learning. BVSI still has many needs, and we have fewer children than we’d like because of financial limitation, but thus far we thank God for what He is doing in our lives. Blessing is now in P1 in our newly born school. Her life has inspired us to give hope to other children with visual impairments like our daughter. We are striving to expand Blessing School for the Visually Impaired so that more children can receive an education tailored to their needs.

See a video about the School when it first started: BSVI

Edward Nyongesa Kwanusu

Edward’s father died when he was 8. A few years later, he dropped out of school to nurse his ailing mother on her sick bed until her death when he was 12. As an orphan with no one to pay his tuition and fees, Edward could not return to school. He did housework for money until he began working in a bakery. After three years, he saved enough money to return to school. His goal was always to earn a degree from a university, even though life threw challenges his way.

After finishing grade eight, he received a call inviting him to Gilgal High School, where children like Edward who could not afford to attend secondary school could continue their educations. After his Gilgal graduation, Edward continued to Mount Kenya University where he graduated with a social work degree. He now gives back to his Alma Mater, Gilgal High School, by serving as a history and religious education teacher.  He also established Doors of Hope.  As an orphan and educated at Gilgal High School he wanted to help orphans, especially street kids.  Founded with the help of Whatever, where he teaches the children to transition from the street to ‘life’ in a home that supplies food and a place to live.  E=H supports the students at Doors of Hope, where Edward currently cares for 5 students.  Edward was given hope, and you can help others like him find their potential and become leaders.

Miguel first heard about Casa Gabriel when he was 14 years old. He and his younger brother Jesus were living on the streets after having run away from a group home several times. They had learned to prefer to live on their own on the streets: they’d been doing it since they were small children.

When Miguel was an infant his mother became a drug dealer to help make ends meet financially for herself and her seven children. She was taken to prison and her younger children were sent to group homes. Upon being released she gathered her children back and tried making a go of it, but desperate for income she sent her kids out on the street to “work” selling and singing Miguel was around 5 years old.  The kids would bring home what they could to help out, but it was never enough for Miguel’s Mom or step-father. Soon they realized it was better for them to spend more and more time on the street and not coming home to be met by their step-dads fists and kicks.  Miguel and Jesus made friends with other street boys and soon discovered, at the age of 7, that they could fend for themselves just fine out on the streets, so they went home less and less.

One day Miguel and Jesus were at a soup kitchen run by a local church and heard about Casa Gabriel from another boy. Jesus was interested and wanted to go check it out but Miguel didn’t want anything to do with it, he was fine on his own and had been hurt enough by group homes and adults.  Jesus came to visit and loved it. He told the staff about his brother Miguel. Finally, Miguel came to visit: however he had a big chip on his shoulder from the start.

“He was a very hard kid for many years”, states the Director Phil Douce. Miguel had a very difficult time trusting anyone and did not do well with discipline or limits, taking them as rejection or that someone was intentionally trying to hurt him. At several points the staff could not take any more and had decided to ask Miguel to leave the program. On these occasions his younger brother Jesus said that if his brother had to leave he would leave also. So the staff tried again, and again. They had been told by his school psychologist that Miguel had a mental delay and would never graduate from high school. Many times the staff would pray for this young, angry boy and would come up with yet more strategies to try and show love, respect and service to him. Little by little Miguel started to gain trust and developed a strong love of learning and doing well in school. Finally, instead of him being the “dummy” in the class, his classmates would ask him how to do the work. Along with much patience, love and work, Miguel started to thrive. He became one of the most dedicated and self-motivated boys in the house when it came to school.

Not only did Miguel graduate from high school, he graduated with honors. Immediately after graduating, he enrolled in culinary school, following his love of cooking and his dream of becoming a chef and maybe opening his own restaurant one day. As Miguel continues to study, he comes to Casa Gabriel three times a week to cook lunches for the other boys. He is paid for this work, which he uses to pay for his current school costs and also gives him a chance to keep practicing his cooking in a place where he is deeply cared for. The staff continues to pour out love and support to Miguel, as does his mother, who fervently prays over her sons. It is an honor to walk beside young men such as Miguel, who have embraced a love of learning because of the doors it opens for their futures.

Roselene Duclaire, St. Jean Baptiste School, Savanette, Haiti

(Roselene on left in photo; Her sister in photo on right.)

Roselene is a hopeful young girl at St. Jean Baptiste School in Savanette, Haiti. She started at SJBS when she was 7. She performed well and is now in fourth grade. Her favorite subject is math, and she dreams of one day becoming an engineer. She wants to build a house; she currently lives in her thatched-roof home (damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016) with five family members.

Always willing to help, she brings water for her family and does her chores. Education is important to her, as well, and she always does her homework. Beyond this, she cares for the goat that she received from SJBS’s goat program in February, 2017 (the goat program offers orphans and poor families a chance to improve their finances).

Her life is not easy, as she and her household struggle to eat and maintain their shelter. However, Roselene has a cheerful smile and great optimism for her future. The education, daily meal, and goat that she receives from SJBS has given her the chance to improve her family’s finances and to dream of a bright future as an engineer.

 

Jim Brutus, Les Cayes, Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. This is the story of one of the citizens, Jimmy Brutus.  He was given hope in a desperate and difficult situation. When Jimmy was six, his mother died and never having met his father, was sent to live with his aunt, uncle and three cousins with his brother.  Unfortunately, grief followed him.  Nine years later “darkness started and the bridge of hope collapsed” he said after his uncle died.  His aunt, with 5 children in the home, didn’t have money to buy food or send the children to school.  Jimmy was lost in grief, without hope… out of school from September until the end of April.  (Picture: Jimmy and his Mom)

One day, when playing soccer on a playground, a priest asked him why he wasn’t in school.  Jimmy told the priest that his aunt didn’t have money to buy a uniform or books for him to go to school.  The priest told him to go to St. Saviour School the next day to talk with him.  When Jimmy went to see the priest, he was told that there were only two months remaining in the school year, but if he studied hard and passed the year end exams, he could receive a scholarship for the next year.  It seemed impossible to learn the entire year’s worth of learning, but Jimmy was given hope for his situation.  He passed that year and he was given a scholarship the following year, Jimmy continued to study hard and was given much hope until he finished University studies at BTI, the Business Technical Institute in Les Cayes. Jimmy is now the Onsite Coordinator in Les Cayes, Haiti for Education Equals Hope.  His philosophy: “Trust in God, and he will find a way.  Tomorrow the sun will shine.” (Picture below: Jimmy Brutus today. )