On the day after 20 hours of non-stop rain that suprised the Rwandese, Rach and the twins visited some of the families that Hannah Ministries works with. We were driven across 2 mountain peaks, up and down, round and round. Passing young and old struggling with the deep, thick, dark red, clay-like mud; pushing bikes stacked high with bananas, sacks of potatoes or 3 metre lengths of corragated iron. Filthy dirty toddlers with ripped clothes walking along with a plastic can of water. these were images that we are familiar with from Comic Relief or other aid programmes. Stereotypical images of Africa, I guess.
When we arrived at Chantals house we slipped down a steep hill to her mud built house. A 3 room house with a broken tin roof, a living space with a single wooden bench, a bedroom with a bed and her clothes on a washingline, a kitchen with a cooking pot and a single onion. The whole house no more than 5metres square. Chantal is an orphan and lives here looking out for 5 or 6 other younger children. She has HIV.
But Hannah is working with her. As a leader of a household she is fed and given anti-retrovirals, both of which have sustained her and kept her going this long. By focussing their resources not on all the children, but on the oldest, they strategically keep more children well.
This is a victory. Not “poor Africa, in need of western help” but local people helping their local community. Of course they need more resources, of course they need more support. There are 100s of Chantals to work with. But this was inspiring, if a little heart-breaking, development work.