We arose early pumped up with adrenaline if not with good sleep. Our retreat house sits on the eastern end of Lake Muhazi–a long lake with many nooks and crannies. Just across the water are several red dirt paths leading to the lake. Children and women walk the paths from the banana treed village to the lake to fill their jerry cans with water. The plan is to travel first to Kigali and then on to Butare, some 2 hours south of the city. We were told this trip would be a breeze in comparison to a few years ago as the road is now paved.
Our first daytime views of the country reveal a lush green world with many hills and valleys. Everywhere people are working in their fields or walking to and fro. Most noticeable are the numerous children on bikes. They are carrying multiple cans of water, milk cans, 3 or 4 huge banana clusters. We are told these young children are not in school as they cannot afford to go beyond 6th grade. So, they make a living (less than 1 dollar a day) delivering water to the villagers to support their families One young man has balanced a table on his bike. Women are walking with bundles on their heads and babies wrapped up on their back. Life seems to be all about procuring enough water and food for the day.
In Kigali, we tour Moucecore, a nonprofit lay counseling ministry started by Bishop Alexis to train up community leaders to lead their fellow villagers to improve life for all. We’ll learn more about this ministry later this week. The trip south to Butare continues through beautiful, rural hills and sharp valleys (many vistas) filled with banana plantations, small knots of goats or cows, mud brick houses in all shapes of repair. We note a group of pink garbed prisoners working in a field. These are “genocidaires”. The trip included many hairy moments when passing slower vehicles or just missing pedestrians.
At Butare, we meet with the Dean of the faculty, a PhD in psychology. They have just begun a masters in psychology program and have their first group of graduates. Not sure thye really have much training. They have needs for help improving their program and for CE or grand rounds training. It will be possible to do such activities live as they will have fiber optic capacity by October.
After this meeting, we meet with 60 some pastors to hear about their experiences. They speak of those they fear are demon possessed, of young children traumatized by the videos of the genocide or by learning their parents took part in the killing. They have to deal with those infected by HIV due to rape and wonder how best to teach about forgiveness. We ended the day with some moving worship in the church. Though we could not translate the exact meaning of the songs, they still spoke to the heart.