Wow, this is an unprecedented time for our generation. We don’t know what the future holds, and these are challenging times for many. This post is longer than usual. There is much to share. For fresh reports from the field, please visit our pandemic update Page: www.hopehavenrwanda.org/pandemic
We’d like to begin by saying thanks for standing with us. So many of you have stepped up to help provide relief and we are very grateful. I echo the words of Philemon 1:7: “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”
Many of you have asked specifically how our 80 employees in Rwanda, and the students and families we serve are coping in the midst of this terrible pandemic. I’d like to share some reports I received a few days ago from our team, and then share what we are doing to help.
First, here is a simple acronym for COVID that our team developed to keep our perspective during this worldwide crisis:
C – Compassion: We will continue to love those who are suffering deeply.
O – Outreach: We will reach out to anyone in need with open hearts.
V – Vigor: We will work tirelessly to meet the needs of Rwandan families.
I – Intentionality: We will deliberately serve without withdrawing.
D – Dependence: We recognize we are all utterly dependent upon God.
Here is specifically what is happening now in Rwanda:
REALITY: All Rwandans were ordered to stay at home. School is out of session, our field workers are unable to work and the 1,300+ meals we serve on campus every single day have stopped.
RESPONSE: We are providing clean water to the community. The local government has asked Hope Haven to continue to allow people to access our safe water. They know and love what we do for this needy community and they have asked us to step up—and we are.
REALITY: Our staff and field workers are unable to work, and five teachers have returned to their homes in neighboring Uganda.
RESPONSE: We are in regular contact with our entire team (75+ in Rwanda alone), and have assured our workers that they will continue to receive their salaries during this crisis. We have not laid anyone off because of COVID-19. We are also providing salary advances as needed
REALITY: This situation is dire. Some of our students are literally at risk of starvation during this crisis. Many local markets are closed, and those that remain open are price-gouging in unprecedented ways. The Rwandan government is attempting to police this, but it is nearly impossible to control at the village level.
RESPONSE: Hope Haven Rwanda has always helped the most vulnerable, and this difficult season is no different. Our staff has identified specific students and families that face starvation. The food that is grown on our campus is being distributed appropriately and safely, even as you read this email. We are also allowing our Hope Haven family to access much-needed firewood leftover from previous building projects.
Please pray with us as we respond to this dire situation! Here are short excerpts of reports from our team on the ground in Rwanda (more reports on the pandemic page):
Liz Ingabire, Managing Director: “The situation isn’t good at all here for anyone but is worse for casual laborers. This includes almost all parents who serve at Hope Haven. Despite the increase in prices, even those who have the money can’t buy because the shops are empty.”
Fred Karangwa, School Director: “The situation here is getting out of hand. Many of our students and families are struggling with how to put food on the table. Especially the parents who work for school fees for their children. We need prayers before God to intervene in this situation.”
Priscillah Kembabazi, Director of Families: “We are all waiting on God’s rescue. It is very hard to survive without food in the house because no one was ready for this tragedy. Let’s keep everyone in prayer.”
Jean Shema, Chaplain: “Day by day, things are getting worse. The government has announced a total lockdown. But my concern is no longer the effect of coronavirus and its spread now. My real concern is how people are going to survive. Most people from our community were dependent on the Hope Haven nutrition program. I am anticipating something worse than the virus—starvation. More people might die of hunger than of the virus itself.”
Did you know that giving just $4 per day changes the life of a student and their family in Rwanda? The Kugaba Initiative provides nutrition, education and community resources for a family at Hope Haven. In fact, this type of support is what helps these at-risk families survive every day—not just in times of worldwide distress such as now. All donations received during this pandemic will be used to continue operations and support our Rwandan community, including special food distributions to families facing starvation.
We are praying for the US and for Rwanda. We thank God for His continued faithfulness to Hope Haven Rwanda. We will get through this, by His grace!
Fresh Update from Liz Ingabire: “On Monday, March 30th, we started giving out food to families from our community at noon. Each family received an emergency relief pack of rice, corn flour and beans. At 2:00pm, we began distributing food to HHR staff using the same measurement of rice, beans and corn flour. Everyone was extremely happy and thankful for Hope Haven Rwanda having thought about them during this crisis. I had a brief speech with them and asked them to pray for all nations, especially the US and our donors, because of this COVID 19 crisis. Our future plans are already affected, but we still have hope. I told them that the US is having tough times during this crisis but they still think of us.”