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  • Karen Visser

Exciting times in Rwanda!

Sandrine's House 

Sandrine is a student in our education sponsorship program. Her family was living in an old house, on the verge of falling apart. Staff with our partner, CARSA, reported that when it rained, being inside was no different to outside - the roof was in such poor condition that water leaked everywhere. We supported CARSA in their project to create a better home for Sandrine and her family. The build consisted of constructing a four-bedroom house for this large family, but also a kitchen, bathroom / washroom, toilet and watertank installation. Construction began in January 2018 and finished mid-March. 

​“When I first met the family, I was deeply moved by their circumstances. The kids didn’t have their own bedroom and slept with the goats and turkey they reared. Healing one’s inner wounds is important. At the same time, the person also needs to come out of poverty. They need to be able to develop themselves so that they can move their lives forward in a holistic way. Hope does not come from the new house. It comes from their capacity to rebuild their lives.” – Sylvestre, CARSA

Construction in February

Sandrine's family in front of the old house

Not only has this house enabled this family to thrive and break away from poverty, but it has enabled local families to gain an income from the building process.

Messages from the family:

"They have made me a muzungu [white person; foreigner]. This is a very beautiful house. In 2013 when the house I had built collapsed I started wishing to have a house, but I could not afford it. Every three months I had to climb up and repair the roof tiles the wind would take them away and I would repair them again. I used to go to Kigali to work for people who will give me money trying to see if the children could grow up. Their studying had gone out of my mind because I knew I would not be able to afford it. I felt they will come and help their mother to farm, and then I was told Sandrine is going to school [through CbL's education sponsorship program] and I was so happy! With this new house, my heart is now at peace. I am going to work hard to raise my children, focusing mostly on what helps the household [family] than worrying about the house. It is good to age in a nice place." - Evode, Sandrine's step-father

“Now I am at peace, I can welcome any visitor at home without shame. I will sleep with animals no more and will no longer sleep worried that if the wind comes mud is going to fall into my ear from the roof. There is even a water tank! We are going to have water, it will be easy for us to wash our clothes, be clean, and this is great.” - Emeritha, Sandrine's mother

“I am very happy that I am going to sleep well, not in the same room with goats and turkey. I will be able to study. I am very happy that we will have electricity, and I will be able to read at night. I will use the old house to raise rabbits, that will give me money.” – Mireielle, Sandrine’s sister

The new house! Emeritha at their new watertank


The Melbourne Marathon was a huge success! With the donations, we are able to run a full 7-day Empower workshop, including an 8th day for facilitators and a follow-up day. 36 people's lives will be impacted through this workshop! Here is an inspiring testimony from the October workshop to give you an idea about the affect these workshops truly have! 

October 'Empower' workshop

“CARSA [CbL's partner] has resurrected me from a dead life. I came to understand my crime in the genocide. I will go and ask for forgiveness from all the people I hurt,” testifies Francis*. 

Francis was a perpetrator in The Genocide Against The Tutsi. He did not understand his role in the genocide, and blamed his actions on the then government. After the genocide, he fled to DRC with other Hutus. During this time, he had many hardships, including threats from other Hutus against his wife. They claimed she was a Tutsi because her face was similar, but he was able to protect her. After three years he returned to Rwanda and was imprisoned for 10 years. While he was in prison, his wife had a baby with another man and he became full of bitterness. After his release he turned into a drunkard, and didn't care for his family. 

After participating in Empower, he was able to accept the child who was born when he was in jail and has forgiven his wife. He will start to take care of his family's needs. “I have come to understand the history of clans and ethnicity very well. I am going to be a person who builds peace in my community starting with my family,” he says. “Quarrelsome will no longer be found in my home. I will work towards the development of my family. The workshop taught me how to stop bad chemicals; I will live a hopeful and purposeful life.”

October 'Empower' workshop

This is an incredible story of transformation! Each month 36 Rwandans take part in Empower workshops and 36 more from a previous month attend their follow-up sessions. This program not only helps people to forgive and reconcile, but also teaches skills and techniques to help with everyday life. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is very common, so learning calming, breathing and sleeping exercises enables people to get back into living a full life, not hindered by the pain of their past. 

*Name changed to protect privacy

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