presented a cow to Epiphany, one of the widows from Jari.
This is where Pelagia lived
Colette lived in this house
After a meeting with the local government administrator and his team...
We purchased this plot of land…
…and built these houses
Colette and Pelagia moved in during October 2011
We also replaced their old bee hives
And built them a new bee hive shelter…
With SOME of our team having been involved in the build… (others just watched!)
We provided food parcels for the elderly women in the community…
and provided four women with sewing machines, cloths and thread...
...who later secured the contract to make uniforms for the local school
JariThe Jari Solace Community was established in 2000. It was recognised that an increasing number of (primarily) widows were accessing support from Solace Ministries in Kigali so the decision was made to create a Solace Community at Jari. Although it is one of the suburban communities, being 10 km outside Kigali, it is still classed as a rural agricultural area and is located on a mountainside. The members do not live in one location but live in small villages throughout the area. The community is currently composed of 93 families, with 69 of these families headed up by widows and the other 24 are orphan headed households. Four of these members are elderly widows who are sole survivors, 10 others are described as being "very old". Seventy-nine families have their own houses while 6 rent and 8 others live with relatives or friends. Among those who have their own accommodation, only 9 houses are deemed to be in a good state of repair.
Rock Community Church - a partner church with Jari Solace Community
The Rock Community Church in Dumbarton, Scotland has been in relationship with Jari, Rwanda since 2008 when a team from the church joined a Comfort Rwanda & Congo mission trip to Rwanda. On the itinerary was a half day visit to a Solace Ministries Community at Jari. On that day Comfort Rwanda & Congo gave a cow to Epiphany, one of the widows. Little did they realise that this half day trip would change their lives!
The team returned to Dumbarton where the Rock Community Church agreed to support this Solace Community in Jari. In September 2010 a second team from The Rock headed for Rwanda. They had raised money to pay for repairs to the homes of two widows, Collette and Pelagia. Further fundraising and agreement with the local authorities has a led to the purchase of land and the construction of a brick duplex for these ladies. Additional features of guttering, downpipes and a water tank conserves the rain water and solar paneling provides electricity for a small business in mobile phone charging. Collette and Pelagia moved into their new homes in October 2011. The Rock has helped the community honey project by providing new hives and a new bee hive shelter. A number of the women have received sewing machines, material and threads to start a sewing business. They have since secured the contract for the manufacture of school uniforms for the local school and business is flourishing.
The leader of the community is a widow named Veneranda. Her story is one of trauma, pain and selflessness:
“I am a widow because of the genocide. I had one son and who was 12 years and 2 daughters. My son was killed with his father. I live now with my two daughters and one boy who is an orphan who survived . This boy suffered a lot from during the genocide. His testicles were smashed and taken off. His head was hit hard with a lot of damages. He is so traumatised that he refused to go to school. I stayed with him when he was two years but now he is 21 years. Things that happened to me in 1994 were so horrible. A soldier raped me for 2 days. After this he threw me outside and gave me to interahamwe who were killing people. I was beaten and fell down but I was not dead. Other bodies piled up on me. After the killers left I tried to move out. I realised that my arm was broken and I can't really use it. After the genocide when we were coming back from the refugee camps, I realised that I was pregnant from the rape. Temptation to go for abortion was there but finally I abandoned that. Later, after I came to the Lord , I brought the issue to the Lord. I found out that I was not infected and then I gave birth to a baby girl. I did not like her, but these days I love her because Solace received me and comforted me. I live with my daughter but I have no house and when this girl gets traumatised she chases me out, she asks me about her father and I feel so bad, and I tend to think that a dead person is better. I thank Solace for the great work they did for me to get back to normal.”
Veneranda's selfless nature allowed others, like Colette and Pelagia, to have new houses before her. The community stepped in and decided that Veneranda should have the next house as the young man that she had brought up was becoming increasing violent (physically and verbally) towards her and her daughters, and had been threatening to throw them out on the street with no where to go. He relented when advised that Veneranda would have the next house and agreed that she and her daughters could continue to stay until the house was ready. She moved into her new home in 2013.
A further home has been built for an orphaned family of two sisters and one brother, they moved into it in July 2014. Another home is planned to replace the dilapidated home of a widow left for dead during the genocide who took in 9 orphans after the fighting stopped. We are grateful to the Rock Community Church for their ongoing support of this Solace Community at Jari.