Saturday church

Saturday church

The bus has let me out at a familiar stop. I had been told to take the coach for Rwamagana in the east but to get out at 'Cumi magatanu' which was out past the city limits. In fact, it isn't that far out and we know it well as the place where we first arrived in Kigali with our Land Rover Discovery.

It is Saturday and I am visiting Marie Therese Millindi who runs a Saturday church for local children in the grounds of her home. The children are given Bible teaching and lessons in good behaviour. This is only an excuse though to get the children together and give them a meal of porridge and amandazi.

At the moment, Marie Therese is being visited by a Ghambian student, studying in Sweden, who is helping to give the lessons. Today's subject is peace, mostly relating to relationships within families. Peace and reconciliation are important features of Rwandan life. Marie Therese tells me that honesty and discipline are issues with the children. Drugs and glue sniffing are part of their story.

Although Marie-Therese's house sits in sizeable grounds, the local area is made up of much humbler dwellings. She took me to the house of one of her children and there is no prosperity there at all. A family of six live in a two-room mud building perhaps four meters square. One exterior wall has almost entirely fallen away. Inside, there is no electricity and the floor is dry earth. Lack of ventilation gives the air a musty smell.

As well as running the church, Marie Therese has offered her house as a home to several orphans over the years. One was a five year old boy who appeared in the local area one day in the back of a truck that had come from Tanzania. Unable to locate his family, Marie-Therese took him in.

Marie-Therese has said she will help the mother of little Jessica who I met a few days ago. Loanhead Parish Church have provided funds for Marie-Therese to buy a cow which she can keep in her grounds. The milk from the cow will be sufficient to pay Jessica's mother a wage for helping the project. This in turn will help feed Jessica and the rest of the family.

After a long afternoon's chat with Marie-Therese and her husband Jean Pierre, I headed back down the hill to wait for a bus, this time coming from the east. I didn't have to wait long and was back at Remera bus station within fifteen minutes. Even better, because this was a long distance bus, the driver didn't even charge me for the last few miles.