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(This article was published first on November 24, 2017, in German only. Here comes the English translation)
L. and K. are the children of A. and have attended the New Life Nursery & Primary School for one year.
The school director contacted Dietmar while in Germany with the unfortunate news that a Ecumenical 1World-Group (OWG) supported mother had fallen into a difficult situation. Immediately after recently returning to Rwanda, the telephone rang. It was the school director and he was urging Dietmar to quickly come to him for conversation of resolution.
In February 2017 Pastor Gerhard, Susan and Dietmar met with this director. At that time, the mother and her children seemed to all be in good condition. Her business was developing nicely and to the point where the additional income supported a new living standard for her small family.
In March her home was broken into…again. This brought her total number of break-ins to four. Each time personal items were taken, but more tragic was that all of her goods ready for market were stolen. It is obvious that her victimization was systematic and from people within her locale. It is well-know in the surrounding neighborhoods that she receives European (white) support. This is motivation enough, coupled with the common assumption that she would always receive more money, for she and her family to be targeted.
To make matters even worse, the mother had been ill for the four week transition between May and June and had been further humbled by having to borrow grocery money from the school director.
It is easy for Dietmar to reflect through his similar experiences of prejudice. When an indigenous person has a relationship with a white European, the jealousy, envy, resentment and hate erupts from relatives, „friends“ and neighbors. The contempt is even seen in the disapproving glances of complete strangers. This particular family lives in one of the poorest regions of eastern Rwanda. It is near Uganda. The entire area is owned by wealthy absentee ranchers and land owners, who spend their time at their villas in Kigali.
The local population is impoverished and survives from day to day. Unfortunately it is ingrained into their society that they observe one another with a jealous eye. Whenever individuals elevate themselves from the norm, this knee-jerk social mechanism automatically engages to undermine the achiever. As soon as a family is (white) supported, there is jealousy and an accompanying feeling that the recipient family has become selfish and greedy.
Since the family has joined the local church and the children have integrated into the school, they are receiving the inclusive attention and social acceptance which they rightfully deserve. Dietmar is sincerely appreciative of the working relationship which has developed between himself and the school director. Dietmar recognizes the director as a valuable contact and capable mediator who has the best interests of the mother and her children at heart.
One of their first decisions was to improve the family’s housing arrangement. For a long time they lived in a remote hut located in a cornfield. Obviously the isolation made it an easily broken into target.
- The objective is to locate a living quarters in a safe neighborhood in the center of the village. The building must have a door and windows reinforced with steel.
- The prospective neighbors will be interviewed, informed and solicited to participate in respectful attention given to the family.
- The rent for the first three months will be payed from the general fund of OWG.
- The objective ideally would be to secure a large enough residence where the mother’s wares can be stored. If this is not possible, a separate warehouse facility will be rented. The financing for replenishing the stolen inventory will come from OWG.
Pastor Gerhard comes to Rwanda in February. Susan and Dietmar are planning to visit her with Gerhard. The delegation of three is anxious to see her progress, as she appears to be a very capable, creative businesswoman.
The course of events through this endeavor of supporting a talented and industrious family achieve their financial footing has been rewarding. They now have a firm business foundation upon which their living standard will only improve. Dietmar reflects with satisfaction, helping these impoverished Rwandans to achieve a better life gives renewed meaning to what OWG is all about.
Generally we support poor families. Some families, with children who could be students, are so destitute that they could never imagine coming up with tuition fees. There are the deserted mothers or the children with no relationship to a living relative. There are those with a home made of adobe and a corrugated-tin roof, no table, no chair, no bed. The morning is met with hunger and off to school. Sleep at day’s end is also met with hunger, as they lie on a piece of cardboard or reed mat. We have 7 such children. Thanks to their foster parents, they have a little something of which other childern have none…hope.
This reality is easy to understand. It does very little good to send a hungry child to school out of incomprehensible abject poverty. The mind will not engage when the stomach is groaning in anguish. From an imagined perfect world, where OWG had unlimited resources, Dietmar has come to the opinion that our first priority is elevate living standard, therefore maximizing the educational opportunity.
His experience has repeatedly confirmed that assistance only lasts when followed through with strict observation and analysed results. This insures that the accompanying cultural, social and economic conditions are positively impacted. Without such financial controls in place, an at-risk recipient family’s living circumstances would quickly deteriorate. The distribution of our fosterparent and patron monies must remain purpose-driven with the singular focus: elevate standard-of-living. The ultimate priority is to protect our recipient’s dignity and bolster their social well-being. Dietmar strongly recommends this philosophic shift in thinking into our OWG decision making process.
Dietmar is making the request that our foster parents consider the positive result which would come from broadening their support so as to iinclude the universal well-being of the entire family. The positive impact would be paramount!
Dietmar and Susan want to express their sincere appreciation to all our OWG fosterparents. Your life-line of support is the only avenue for these mothers and their children to have any sense of personal dignity. Your loyalty, to your chosen fosterchild and the overall well-being of OWG, fuels Dietmar and Susan’s fortitude and encourages them in their commitment to the everyday tasks at hand.
BTW: In the meantime of his article, the family described above has moved into a secure housing which conveniently has a view of the city market. This entrepreneurial mother sincerely thanks the supporting foster parents for covering her three months rent and the finances to purchase the necessary raw materials so as to get back into business.
So…the OWG beat goes on !
[ Translation: Mr Randell K. Anderson ]