Co-ops, children & clean water - by Jenn O'Neill

Team Ineza packed in a full day of activities at the Rweru village today.  We were again welcomed by our African brothers and sisters in song and dance outside their church upon our arrival.  Once inside, the celebration continued and we joined in on the fun.  

We started the day off by splitting into two groups.  The men built water filtration systems and hand washing stations while the women gathered inside the church to learn more about the women's cooperative.  At Rweru, I was very impressed with the organization and progress of their co-ops.  They have 3 main areas of business:  Crops that they sell at the market, the raising and breeding of goats to sell the fertilizer and, a hair salon. Last year, members of the MCC team donated 4 goats and the women were happy to report that they now have 4 additional baby goats.  The hair salon has a rented space in a nearby town and they have been able to save about 100,000 francs.  The crops co-op has had a more challenging season since it has been very dry and their harvest has not been as fruitful.  We asked questions and got a better sense of areas where they can expand and grow their businesses in the future.  The discussion was beautiful to watch because as time went on, you could see that we were all beginning to bond. 

After the morning sessions it was time to have some fun.  We created Pray for One beaded bracelets that were in English and Kinyarwandan.  It was another moment to bond by sharing our Pray for One mission and we assembled them together.  After helping Pastor Amy tie her bracelet on her wrist, we shared a special moment together where she told me she was my Pray for One. :)  She is another strong woman and church leader and very admirable.  Once we wrapped up, things moved outside where we played with the children by blowing bubbles, jump-roping and frisbee inside the church where Russell showed D'Amour some advanced frisbee skills which he picked up right away.        

After lunch, we gathered all of the women inside to present the water filtration systems and teach them how to maintain them.  We ended the session by demonstrating the difference in the quality of the water with side by side water bottles and a member of our team, Stephen sampled the clean water for all to see.  :)  The women expressed their gratitude and thanked us for thinking of them by bringing these water filters to their village.  One woman said they are so thankful because their children have been suffering from sickness and stomach problems and now they will be more healthy.

We closed out the day by filling up the church with children as far as the eye could see.  We read them a Bible story and gave them a page to color.  After, we enjoyed some juice and biscuits.  

Today felt like more of a summer family reunion where we joined in celebration, sharing of resources and fellowship.  It was truly a day of community, not only with the village and Team Ineza but also a surprise visit from Nicodem and Teresie from Batima as well.  We learned that the two church communities are very close and they used to be one church before growing into two.

Finally it was time for lots of hugs and farewells until next time and a sea of rainbow colored Noah's Ark sheets in the hands of the children, waving to us, as we drove out of the village.  Rweru, thank you for your overwhelming love and kindness.  We are ALL family.

Jenn O'Neill