In early November, our rector and his wife visited Emmanuel Gatera in Rwanda to learn more about the work of YEGO-Rwanda, a foundation created by Emmanuel to bring healing to Rwandans and peace to a post-genocidal Rwanda. This is their story, in three parts. YEGO-Rwanda (Part II)
In 1994, in a coordinated attack long prepared for, spurred on by extremists, and whipped into a frenzy by local media, the Hutu population of Rwanda turned on their Tutsi neighbours, brutally slaughtering over a million in a hundred-day period. The facts are sobering enough, but the personal stories are devastating.
Anastasia is a forty-something mother of two grown children. They all bear the trauma of watching Anastasia’s husband and the two oldest children beaten to death by Hutu attackers. While her life was spared, Anastasia was enslaved by her tormentors and forced to provide for their children while her own wasted away. Surviving the ordeal, the family’s emotional scars render them incapable of living productive lives, the children both receiving ongoing treatment for mental illness.
Clementine, seven years old at the time of the genocide, witnessed the violent murder of her immediate family. Miraculously, she escaped, carrying her newborn cousin on her back into the woods. She survived for days in the bush, avoiding capture and fending for herself, but was forced to watch her cousin die in her arms, unable to care for her, a trauma she bears to this day.
YEGO-Rwanda was founded by Emmanuel Gatera, the former divinity student we supported in his studies, and a good friend whose efforts to bring healing to Rwandans we continue to support—not only for survivors of the genocide but also for the subsequent generations who continue to suffer its effects.
Next week … the inspiring work of YEGO-Rwanda.
In early November, our rector and his wife visited Emmanuel Gatera in Rwanda to learn more about the work of YEGO-Rwanda, a foundation created by Emmanuel to bring healing to Rwandans and peace to a post-genocidal Rwanda. This is their story, in three parts.
Almost twenty years ago St. Stephen’s asked our World Mission office for the name of a promising seminarian in a Third World country whom we could support in their studies. The name they gave us was Emmanuel Gatera, a divinity student at the University of Kampala, Uganda, who was hoping to be ordained and to serve in his home country of Rwanda.
Serve he has! Upon graduation, Emmanuel was hired as the General Secretary for the Archdiocese of Rwanda where he was also to found a new congregation in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city. Faced daily with pastoral challenges relating to the enduring and widespread trauma of the 1994 genocide, Emmanuel realized more could be done through an agency committed exclusively to personal healing and social relief. So … YEGO-Rwanda was born.
Knowing he needed unique credentials for this kind of work, with our assistance and that of our World Mission department, Emmanuel enrolled in the doctoral divinity programme at St. Stephen’s College, University of Alberta, to begin long distance studies that would qualify him for the therapeutic work to which he was feeling called.
Next year Emmanuel will graduate, returning to Alberta to receive his diploma, accompanied by his wife Athanasie. In the meantime, in early November, our rector and his wife spent a week with Emmanuel in Rwanda where they heard the stories of genocide survivors and visited the homes of those whose personal trauma has isolated and marginalized them—a sobering life-changing experience.
Next week … their stories.
The chairs aren’t quite as full this morning—another day where the pleasures of lingering a little longer over coffee win out over a barnburner of a sermon and some awesome hymns, right? Not quite. This morning, and later today, about 40 or more members of our congregation will be working with Feed the Hungry to set-up, prepare, serve, and tear down a complimentary meal for nearly 600 guests at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Thanks to your generosity last month, we were able to contribute $2500 toward the food costs for today’s supper. Giving of our time, our talents, and our treasure is part of how we minister to a world beset by economic uncertainty and job losses. We work together with our partners at Feed the Hungry and our fellow volunteers to affirm our guests’ humanity, by greeting them, serving them a nutritious and tasty meal tableside, and providing them with a hospitality package at the end of the evening.
We know that it may be hard for some of our members to support yet another request for funds and assistance to people outside our congregation, while some of our own have themselves been affected by the very economic uncertainty we’ve been dealing with for the past 2½ years. We are called, in the words of the hymn and the Prayer of St. Francis:
Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive.
We ask God’s blessing on all who are being served at today’s Feed the Hungry dinner.