During this time of isolation and dislocation around the world, we are thrilled to provide a brief update on our sister communities in Rwanda. Rwanda acted quickly, and its fast shutdown restricted COVID-19 cases. As of June 1, 2020, posted on http://www.worldometers.info/ , there were 370 cases, with only one fatality. As the World Health Organization has noted, new cases are considered “sporadic.” https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
St Matthias’ two sister parishes had to suspend most of the humanitarian activities we support when Rwanda shut down all gatherings on March 15. The shutdown included two nursery schools (together serving almost one hundred 4-6 year olds), the tailoring training course for twenty unwed moms and the home repair training course for widows. Recognizing that hunger would have a huge impact on poor moms who rely on day-labor to feed their children, we distributed basic food packages to 106 families: corn flour, oil, sugar, beans, and soap. The moms were hugely grateful as there were no other locally-provided food grants. Two weeks later, we followed with a second package to support them as the economy opened again, starting May 15. Our tailoring trainees had virtually completed their training at the time of shutdown. They were the first in their Province to produce face masks for hospitals, which made them quite proud. It is hoped that they will open their tailoring shop in June which will be a watershed moment in their lives as marginalized unwed moms. We will begin training another 15 young single moms in June or July. In late May, our Rwandan team began making raised bed “kitchen gardens” in the hard packed yards of about 40 families. With lots of compost, the gardens quickly yield staples to enrich their diets.
In emergency situations, it’s good to give a fish but better to follow up with a net for fishing.