Gasha sits high in the hills, the road is rough and narrow and last night’s rain has caused areas of thick mud, the log bridges and sheer drop down the side of the hill are a little scary. Nevertheless we made it intact.
This small parish is one of the poorest in the Butare Diocese. The church is in danger of being closed down by the government as it is not up to acceptable building standards. The congregation of 200 mainly live in abject poverty, 80% of the children do not attend school. This doesn’t stop a fair number turning out to tend the church garden.
We have not done any work in this parish, we were just on a fact finding mission, but we were greeted with the usual enthusiasm. The message ‘thank you for coming to see us’ is echoed in every place we visit. They feel that the support we offer is second to the fact that we care enough to come and see them.
These are a people who often feel forgotten. The genocide was only 24 years ago and most live with the mental scars if not the physical ones. So many lost everything and most of the folk we met today were orphans or widows from that horror. They are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Something as simple as a pig can make such a difference to these families.
After many photo’s, handshakes. questions and poor attempts at Kinyarwandan we said goodbye, well ‘murabeho’ actually, and headed back down the hill.
As we were only a few minutes from the Burundi border we took time to be tourists and, after our driver negotiated a pass, strolled through the barrier to take photos of the Akagera River and Burundi on the other side.
After a quick drink at the guest house (fast food is a foreign concept here – it took 30mins to make a smoothie!!) we used our afternoon off to walk to the Rwandan Museum where we were given an interesting tour by a well educated young man with perfect English.
It has taken three visits to Rwanda to finally find time to be tourists for a few hours.