Posted: 3 July 2014
Summer Team Update 2014
Greetings from Kigali, Rwanda. It is extraordinary to think that today is our last day in Rwanda and tomorrow we will embark on the long bus journey north (across the equator!) to Kampala and Uganda.
The last few days have been pretty packed. On Thursday we headed to the South West of the country to a place called Nabagabye. It was a three and half hour journey in pretty cramped conditions - there were 15 of us (and 16 on the way back!) in a bus with 14 seats. We were assured by our Rwandan hosts that it was fine as it was licensed to carry 17 passengers! That said, it was wonderful to see some of the beautiful Rwandan countryside - once you get outside of Kigali you quickly see why Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills. Its breathtaking and a reminder of the magnificence of a God who could create such spectacular scenery.
Once in Nabagabye, our brief was to lead a Lawyers of Hope legal education seminar which was run in partnership with World Vision. Half the team were with a group of adults and the other half were with a group of primary school children, but the brief for both was to teach the contents of the UN Convention on Child Rights. It was fun day, and exciting to be putting our legal skills to good use. The team with the children, in particular, enjoyed being creative in how to teach the convention!
On Friday, we headed North to Gicumbi, to another area where Lawyers of Hope are working in partnership with World Vision (as well as, in this case, Save the Children). A shorter journey and less people in the bus made for a more comfortable journey, but once again the scenery was stunning. This time the team remained together and we all taught one group of children the same material. The group seemed to grow as the morning went on as word spread that the Bazungu (a term which literally means "white people" but is applied to anyone from the west) were in town.
If we ever wondered what the point was of this teaching, we found the answer in Gacumbi when we met N. He is a 12 year old boy who had first met the Lawyers of Hope staff after he had run away from home and was sleeping rough. His parents had been forcing him to work (collecting water) and refusing to send him to school. If he delayed in getting the water, they would beat him. So he ran away from home. When the Lawyers of Hope staff met N, he came to a training and understood for the first time what protection the law offered him. Since then his parents have also attended a training and N has returned home - they all now understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. And a family has been reunited.
Yesterday, we helped Lawyers of Hope host their annual conference for Christian students. The theme for the conference was "Real Christianity, True Justice" and Matthew gave one of the keynote addresses, teaching from Amos 5. The rest of the team led discussion groups after each of the talks. There were eighty students there and it was great to be part of the day where they were grappling with how their faith relates to legal practice in Rwanda. A real joy.
Which brings us to today - a much needed rest day before we embark on the long road journey to Uganda tomorrow morning.