As you overlook the capital city of Kigali, Rwanda, beautifully textiles roofs mask the tin roofs and slums that lie deeper. Even once you have trekked down the unpaved, dirt paths and into the thick of it, the perfectly plastered walls of the homes can be deceiving. It is not until you enter the home where six or more family members live in a ten by ten room that reality engulfs you.
Until you experience this, the beauty of the landscape and the sprinkled “modern” homes fool you. Our first day out was spent mostly in the city and homes of sponsors and street boys. It was a day for us to see past the surface and into the Africa that people envision.
First we met with Fred, the executive director on the African sector of Africa New Life (the organization we work with in Rwanda.) He began the day by giving us a history of Rwanda and then moved into talking about what Aspen Heights‘ role with ANL has been
I glanced over at Russ, one of the three founders of Aspen Heights and thought about what he must be feeling. For the first time he was seeing the fruits of his labor here in Africa, and how much his contribution has actually mattered.
Fred thanked us for the dorms we helped build last year, for the donations towards the street boys program, the vocational school funding, and humbly for the most important thing; sponsorship. Here’s a brief overview of sponsorship in Rwanda and more specifically through Africa New Life, is the sole way children can get an education. Sponsorship provides clothes the students, pays for tuition, gives them books and shoes, and also pays for health care.
Sponsorship was the lingering theme throughout the rest of the day. We began in the offices after Fred’s introduction and were able to see the percentage of children sponsored. Currently it is about 6,000 and over 1,000 are still looking for sponsorship. We learned about the statistics of sponsorship in the country and the impact that it as on someone’s life, through stories of employees at Africa New Life. Everyone, from the leaders, to the admin, to the pastors had experienced sponsorship themselves. They had all been through tragic experiences, either rendering them without a home or a family, and in all cases, without education. Through sponsorship, they have become some of the greatest leaders in the country.
We experienced sponsorship first hand in the home of Russ’s sponsor child. Following this, we journeyed into the city and visited the homes of two street boys. These are boys in the sponsorship program who do not have someone to sponsor them yet. They are some of the most needy boys in the city. In meeting with them, I felt compelled to sponsor one of the boys, knowing the impact a fantastic education will have on his life.
After visiting these homes, and the Africa New life school, and daycare, we traveled home. All reflecting on how much of an impact we could have through such a simple thing: sponsorship.