Today was a long one, as we worked to make the most of our only full day in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. In the morning, Chuck, Teryl and I ministered at a conference for 200 Rwandan pastors who were interested in learning about house churches. In the afternoon, we distributed $1,000 worth of corn flour, potatoes and beans, courtesy of our Food Fund, to 53 very needy Christian families who had been selected by their pastors. By late afternoon, everyone on our team was tired, but we had one more stop, a very poor village on the outskirts of Kigali named Ruliba. It would prove to be worth our drive.
Through our Safe Water Fund, 230 biosand water filters have been manufactured and placed in very poor households in Rwanda. The impoverished families of Ruliba Village are the beneficiaries of 22 of those filters. They live in crude brick houses with dirt floors and tin roofs, suffering material hardship that is unimaginable to most Westerners. Their water source is a small stream that empties into a ditch along the road that runs through their village.
As soon as our van came to a stop in Ruliba, we were surrounded by children excitedly shouting, Mzungu!, the standard East-African word for rarely-sighted, white-skinned people. The village chief, a man named Desire Bavakure, welcomed us and then proudly showed us the biosand filter inside his small, dirt-floored house. He told us that before the filters, the village inhabitants suffered constant stomach and intestinal illnesses, and their children frequently died. He especially feared for the life of his four-year-old daughter, Vanessa, who was often ill.
Not understanding water-borne disease, most of the villagers suspected witchcraft, and there were accusations among some families. The biosand filters, however, improved everyone’s health, and their perception about the cause of their previous health problems changed. Our primary partner in Rwanda, pastor Justin Nkundabagenzi, who brought the biosand filters to the people of Ruliba, then brought them Jesus, the source of living water. Now there are three house churches in the village!