Updated: Apr 5
This is Beatrice, and I would like to share her story:
Beatrice is from Rwanda and barely lived through the genocide. She had ten children, and 8 of them were murdered within days of each other. (If you do not know the details of the genocide in Rwanda, I urge you to Google it). Beatrice escaped to Uganda with her son and daughter. After that, she lost her son, so it was just her and her daughter. Beatrice was able to buy some land with a house on it, and it was there that she raised her daughter and grandson. After a time, her daughter and grandson moved to Buwama, where we are. As Beatrice was aging, her daughter urged her to sell her property and move to Buwama, where they could care for her. Her daughter and grandson took that money and built a house where Beatrice would live with them for ten years. Then her grandson was planning to get married and wouldn't have room for Beatrice. He told those around him that she was a witch doctor and he was chasing her away from "his" house. He said she was not his grandmother "Ja Ja" anymore. He got her a small room and left her with little money or food.
Beatrice is 80 years old and had paid three months' rent to secure the room. That was all she had. The landlord knew she had nothing, so she told her she could work in her fields to cover the rent. Beatrice would go very early in the morning before the sun rose and work until it got too hot for her. At about this time, two of our team members rented close to her and began helping her however they could, but couldn't financially. They brought her to our attention and asked if we could help her in any way.
Justine, our Director, and co-founder met Beatrice to assess the situation. Beatrice told her her story and that she was not a witch doctor, nor had she ever practiced witchcraft which is very common in this area. Beatrice grew up Catholic in Rwanda and carried her faith with her, but the Catholic church would not help her. Justine found Beatrice lovely, but seeing her in this condition and learning that Beatrice wanted to end her life, she knew God had sent her to us, and we were to care for her.
After speaking at length, we decided to help her however we could. We went to her landlord and paid for one year of rent. She didn't have a bed, just a rotten piece of foam on the floor. We bought her a bed, mattress, sheets, and a blanket. We gave her supplies she would need for daily life and some new clothes. All the ladies came together, cleaned her room, and set it up for her. After she bathed, she put on her new clothes.
Buwama is a tiny community. Everyone knew Beatrice and what had happened to her. Once they saw how we all came together to care for her, they realized that they were seeing the hands and feet of Jesus in action. They had heard of Jesus but never met true Christians or witnessed such love for someone they had never met. That day Beatrice accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour, along with two other people. Beatrice said that she now knows that God "Sees" her and "Cares" for her and that He is truly a loving Father. The village counselor told Justine that he had "been preached at," but he became a believer by seeing Christianity at work.
We will continue to care for Beatrice for the rest of her days. We are family, the family of God.