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Anyone who has travelled to an African country and spent time there not only in a holiday hotel, on safari and on the beach, but who has gone off the beaten track, quickly gets an impression of the real life of the people, beyond the colourful world of the glossy brochures.

Today we present the fate of a small family whose children have been supported in our educational sponsorship project for a short time. They belong to those who are at the bottom of the social ladder. Without support, the children would be destined for a life of boundless poverty without hope for a better perspective in life.
It is one of the good news from the African continent that supporting the poorest people not only fundamentally changes their lives, but also contributes to life in society and thus to peace and stability in the country. We are grateful that we as the Ecumenical 1World Circle can make a small contribution to this with the help of the donors.

Now read the life story of Marte* as told to me by our Rwandan project leader during my visit to Rwanda in January 2020. *(Name has been changed to protect privacy).

„Marte lived in very difficult circumstances from an early age. She was four years old when she was orphaned by the genocide. Her only memory is of watching her mother being murdered. Although she was so small, she remembers seeing people chopping her mother into pieces.
After the genocide, she was left alone like all the other orphans and was taken to an orphanage run by a French sister order.
However, soon after, the Rwandan government had disputes with the French government over their involvement in the genocide. As a result, all the French were expelled from the country.
As a result, the nuns returned to France. The orphans were left on their own again and began to wander, going from family to family. Marte lived in this way until she was 14 years old. Eventually she went in search of work as a housemaid with various families. During this time she had great problems, because at the age of 15 a family pretended to want to adopt her. They took her in, but treated her not like a child, but like a slave. She had to do all the housework, was not allowed to go to school, got no pocket money and suffered a lot under these circumstances.
After three years she left the family and looked for another job as a housemaid. She found work with another family and after some time she became a victim of rape by a man who seduced her by giving her some milk and making small promises. The family for whom she did all the housework and cooked did not give her enough to eat, so she was very hungry and fell for the man’s promises. She had to leave the family and was now living like a homeless person.

In this situation, I heard about the mother and went to visit her at the property of a family in my neighbourhood where she was living.
I could not do much for her, but I tried to help her because I noticed that she and her baby were malnourished. So I gave her something to eat every day. But soon this didn’t seem enough and I gave her some money so that she could find a small place to rent. That was all I could do for her.
So the baby grew up under these very difficult circumstances. Marte carried the girl on her back and went out every day to find day labour to earn some money for her daily bread. Sometimes she earned some, sometimes not. That is why she is so skinny.
When her daughter was three years old, she was raped again by a man and gave birth to a second girl. Today she lives in a tiny house with not enough space for three people.
That is why I am so grateful to the sponsor that he took over the sponsorship for the older child, because since then the girl can go to school and Marte can start looking for work with a clear conscience in order to secure food at least for the next day. If her big daughter didn’t go to school, she might be wandering the streets.

But I still worry because if Marte got sick, there would be no one to take care of the family. And what would happen if Marte died? Because she doesn’t know anything about her relatives. And whenever something happens in the family, the neighbours come to me because they know that I take care of Marte and her children. When she gave birth to her second daughter, the neighbours called me and told me to take her to the doctor. No one cared for her. So I went to her place by motorbike taxi and took her to the doctor. Fortunately, she gave birth to a healthy child who is now about two years old.
As I was worried that Marte would not have any more children to take care of, I asked the health centre to talk to her about family planning. I hope that she will not have any more children now. Because as you have seen, she already has a lot of trouble taking care of her two children.
That’s why the sponsorship is already a great help and it would be good if one day there would be the possibility to support the mother in starting a small business so that she can take care of herself and her children. For this, an amount of at least 300 Euros would be necessary to start a small fruit and vegetable trade.
Then she could also move to a better flat, because at the moment the room she lives in has about 3sqm.
I am always near the family to be there for them if they need help. And if it is possible to help Marte start a small trade, I will be there to advise her.“

After returning from Rwanda, I had the opportunity to tell about my trip at the Lions Club in Gotha. A club member was very touched by this life story and helped the little family so that they now live in better housing conditions.
And the two girls have found sponsors. For this we are infinitely grateful!

Gerhard Reuther

[ Translated with ]