Rwanda Journal #9: Holy Mass, Coffee Growers, Genocide Memorial and Our Lady of Kibeho
Mass, Our Lady of Wisdom, Diocese of Butare
This day started with an early wake up call — we were off to Mass bright and early at Our Lady of the Miracles, the Cathedral in the Diocese of Butare. As a gift to our group, our celebrant Father Jean Baptiste Kazinda said Mass in English. We were joined by the amazing “Good News Choir” with young people who had come from St. Dominic’s prayer to join us in praise and worship. I simply can’t wait to share the videos of their singing!
Huje Green Mountain Coffee Cooperative
Our second stop introduced us to two separate agricultural projects that Catholic Relief Services aids on in Butare. At the first site, Clemece, the leader of the “Let’s Get Out of Loneliness” group, introduced us to their cooperative agriculture program which aims to teach Rwanda farmers biointensive agriculture techniques. This group is comprised of a variety of ages and sexes working together in a communal setting to grow crops that are then taken to market. The techniques they learn in the community garden are then brought to their home gardens and replicated with fantastic results. We viewed multiple styles of gardening before moving on to the second group, the “Let’s have a common understanding” group. Again in this particular garden plot, we heard group organizers explain their techniques for growing a variety of crops. This group had already conducted a variety of tests in their plots and determined that with their advanced growing techniques — taught to them by Catholic Relief Services — that their produce yield had tripled. In addition, the presence of this communal garden has given them funds that can be reinvested in their community and has had a dramatic impact upon child nutritional levels among their members. Our final stop at this group took us into the coffee bean groves for a first-hand look at the way CRS’ involvement and support is enabling them to make drastic steps forward in production and yield.
As impressive as our visit with the farmers was in showing me the value of CRS’ work in Rwanda in providing Rwandans with tools and techniques that will change and improve their lives, my favorite aspect of the visit to these farming groups was the chance to be with their children. Perhaps it’s the fact that I look and sound so differently to them that attracts them to me, but regardless the joy of spending time among Rwanda’s future leaders is a true joy. They begin to learn English at a young age so they do know a few words, and have taught me a few Rwandan terms as well.
I’m running out of blogging time for the day, so I will share a few photos from our other visits to the Murambi Genocide Memorial and the Shrine at Our Lady of Sorrows in Kibeho and will follow up soon with complete posts about our next stops for the day — both of which merit full descriptions.