This morning we traveled up the bumpy, mud-slick mountain road to Gishaka church in Bumbogo Parish. Jean-Paul is the leader there for the church and there is also a preschool. The children are on holiday due to the remembrance time of the genocide. However, the education director for Hope on a Thousand Hills, René Hirwa, arranged for about 40 pre-k students to meet us there. Bill, Chris, and Marc worked inside with Brandon Walsh, Daniel, René, Emanuel and other local people on the church construction, using concrete to plaster the walls. A truck delivered dirt and later returned with a truck bed full of rocks. Women walked ten minutes to fetch water and carried it back in big plastic yellow jugs gracefully balanced on their heads.
Peggy, Deane, and Sally played games with the children. Their beautiful teacher Promise was there leading activities with René. Peggy led the children down to the newly delivered dirt pile and showed them how to build a sand castle, decorating each with local vegetation. They proudly showed their “house” to their teacher. Peggy, Deane, Sally, Promise, and René took a walk with the children just to explore the beautiful view. For lunch, the children, the construction team, and our team enjoyed sambusas, which is very similar to a beef empanada.
After lunch, the women in our group traveled to the slums to visit a women’s group that roughly translates to Women Go Ahead. This is a supportive outreach led by a woman originally from Oregon named Shelby and coordinated by a woman named Immaculee. We will have more time tomorrow to find out about their ministry over tea. Report cards were being passed out to the mothers, many of whom receive scholarships through the diocese. This was a celebration complete with candy and Fanta soda, although many of the students did not do well and their grades were quite low. The Archdeacon spoke to the women and encouraged them to prioritize education for their children. His father was a farmer and so he often wanted to skip school to take care of the cows. His father made him go to school and encouraged him in his studies. He is grateful for that opportunity his father gave him and encouraged the women to do the same. Sally then spoke for our group and emphasized the Archdeacon’s message.