Posted on Jul 02, 2019
Oak Bay Rotarian John has been going to Rwanda for eleven years, for approximately two months, each winter.

Oak Bay Rotarian John has been going to Rwanda for eleven years, for approximately two months, each winter.

Initially, John repaired houses and was later asked if he could build houses. There was a need because there were many genocide survivors, many widows and fatherless children, living in poor conditions. John showed us pictures of mud and wattle houses in a bad state of repair.  These sad, small houses were home to parents and children some of whom are HIV positive. In some cases there are up to 7 children with terminally ill parents. Although there is free medical care available in Rwanda, many families have “fallen through the cracks”.

John agreed to build houses, and because the area sits on an earthquake rift, it was necessary to build a strong stone foundation. Porters carry 100-120 lb boulders to the building sites.

John showed a picture of a new 5 room house with 3 bedrooms - so much nicer! Roof rafters are made of the timber growing in the forest. The workers build with just two tools: a machete and a hammer. John also provides families with a raised bed garden already planted with vegetables, and a separate cook shack, equipped with a fuel efficient, smoke free, stacked stove.  Latrines that provide safety and privacy are also provided. There are now 12 stove factories.

John showed photos of individual people. They looked so happy!! “Beatrice” has 5 children and the eldest one is Maria who had finished Grade 9. John managed to find a place for Maria in a boarding school an hour and a half walk away. Education provides these youngsters with economic viability in the future. When Beatrice saw her new house with furnished bedrooms, she collapsed sobbing; she was so relieved to know her children would no longer have to sleep on a mat placed on a dirt floor.

Another family with 7 children and a father with advanced TB lived in a two room house.  None of the children were in school. The younger children were supplied with a uniform, a back pack and equipment to enable them to go to school. “Peter” is an older child in this family and when he was told a house was being built for his mother, he said he would do any labor necessary to help.  Peter ended up going to a vocational school and two girls from another family went to the vocational school to learn to sew.

John informed us that other NGO’s put signs on houses to indicate they cost $3,500-$4,000, whereas the houses John builds cost $2000.