In 2006, Hilary King, a member of St. Simon’s Church in North Vancouver, visited Rwanda and felt a call from God to support the people she met in the Southern Province. In 2008, she founded Embrace Rwanda, with a focus on maternal health. Since then, the reach of Embrace Rwanda has expanded to support maternal and child health, early childhood education, a Vocational Training Center, and a savings and credit program. King recently visited Rwanda, and shared an update on the “Healthy Mums” project:


 

Hilary King

Blessed to be a blessing: this seems to have been the overriding theme for my last trip to Rwanda.

In various settings and activities and in all of the Dioceses I heard over and over again how those who are being blessed are now becoming a blessing to others. The groups always start their meetings by studying the word of God and praying for each other. Their compassion for other members was very evident as we listened to their stories of how they had supported members of the group in their time of need. It was noted that supporting the women is also supporting the church in these rural communities.

These verses in 2 Corinthians Chapter 9 certainly apply to these women who have experienced severe poverty and now want to share their blessings with others:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

Sharing the blessing is so true for the mums in the Healthy Mums Project who consistently talk of how once they received their goat and it helped them to produce good vegetables from their kitchen garden, they were anxious to share it with others. They are also very willing to give away the goats they have reproduced. They repeatedly say that there is no longer any malnutrition in their groups; their babies are healthy. Most are now able to pay for their health insurance.

In the words of one of our mums: “Before, our children looked bad, now they look better than the others! They had dull eyes before but now, thanks to the carrot seeds, they have bright eyes! We must share this with others.”

Reports from the Healthy Mums Project show that the program continues to bless them abundantly by offering weekly support to the mums and the opportunity to engage in the Savings and Credit program of their Associations. Almost all groups that started just a year ago have now saved around 60-100,000 rwf ($100-175 CAD) and some have 200,000rwf ($350CAD). The Agents of Health and the Association committee of four have been very careful to ensure that their bank account grows. This has made it possible for the members to take small loans to start their small business opportunities. These include selling vegetables, producing sorghum juice and flour. Others are selling clothes and shoes in the local markets.

Infographic Embrace Rwanda

Some groups are successfully raising chickens and selling the eggs and others are raising rabbits. Many groups are also engaged in making crafts that include baskets, mats and trays. These may seem small numbers to us here in Canada but for them it is huge and they acknowledge God’s hand upon them.

Everywhere we see in our projects how God is providing for the mums in physical and spiritual ways. Their lives are enriched in many ways and they so they want to be generous to others.

What an example to us. They have little and give much.


 

Hilary King will be returning to Rwanda in January 2016 with a team from North Vancouver and will go again in July 2016. To join a team as a volunteer or to learn more about Embrace Rwanda and how your church can partner with them visit http://embracerwanda.org/

The Story “Blessed to Be a Blessing” first appeared in St Simon’s Church NV November 2015 newsletter and was written by Hilary King.