In the East of Rwanda in a rural area of Gatsibo is a Church built on land that supports many poor villagers of different faiths including 70 + unemployed women who have HIV due to the legacy of the Genocide that ended in 1994.
The simple Church hosts a school where more than 160 children receive a daily main meal & in many cases, the meal will be all they have to eat in a week. At least 60 of the children attend school free because they are orphans or have mothers with HIV, who due to prejudice, fear & ignorance are unable to get work as no one will work with them & so they & their children go hungry due to lack of income.
The mothers suffer further due to poverty, because even though the Rwandan government provides free medication to people with HIV, it has to be taken with food or it is too aggressive to tolerate. Consequently, many poor mother’s leave their children orphans because they cannot tolerate the medication to keep them alive as they have no access to food to eat.
A Pastor at the Church formed an HIV support group & when I visited, the woman told me their stories. They said there were many more women who could not attend because they were too ill and nor could their children go to the school as they had no clothes & were ashamed.
They said, those that had work on the land tried to help the others & that some of them saved a tiny amount each week, I asked them what they were saving for & they said coffins so that they could be decently buried. This is their immediate future without food or work, so they know that if they go hungry, they will die very soon. This is their shared fate.
The Church bought the group two sewing machines so that they could learn a trade & work from the back of the building, but the women number 70 & more & they urgently need more machines & a building to work from before it is too late.
We want to help the women to make a secure building where they can meet, with room for at least 10 sewing machines, tables & storage so that they can learn a trade, support themselves, each other & their families. Then maybe they will not need the coffins so soon as they will be able to eat, take their medication, earn a living & look after their children safely.
CDUK also want to sink a well near the Church for village use by people of all faiths. Currently the only clean water has to be collected & paid for at a government water source several miles away at approximately the equivalent of one penny per litre. Water is gathered after rain from streams and puddles often also used by animals and is heavily polluted.
The Church collects fresh water for cooking from many miles away & has to use rain water from muddy puddles for hand washing when it rains. Disease from the polluted water is rampant. CDUK want to provide 2 water harvesting tanks that will collect rainwater for the Church to enable better hygiene & cleaner water access for all their cooking & personal needs.