One Step at a Time

 
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In 2012, the United Nations began recognizing September 5th as the National Day of Charity with the hope that the day may serve as a reminder that the eradication of poverty is critical in establishing stability and sustainable development around the world.

 

Eradicating poverty is close to our hearts here at TVM…but it can feel overwhelming.

 

Because it is overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you go into a country like Rwanda, where millions are unsure if they will eat that day, and make a difference?

 

It isn’t easy…but I think the answer lies in a single step…out of your comfort zone with no certainty of how change will happen...

 

but with full certainty that it must happen. You just have to go.

 

This is how True Vineyard Ministries began – with one woman taking one step in faith into a country which, at the time, was still recovering from genocide and civil conflict. The act of going…without all of the answers or even a clear plan mapped out…set into motion a chain of events which created a ministry that has become the number one employer of women in the Musanze district of Rwanda.

 

With each step, our focus has shifted, broadened. Once we decided on where we would help, we began by identifying those in the community in greatest need. We hired ten women and began supporting their immediate needs – providing salary, healthcare and ensuring they were able to provide safe shelter and food for their families. As we were able, we hired more women and began contributing toward school-related fees so that any children in the care of the women we employ were able to attend school. We were identifying and meeting external needs…

 

But we began to see that, for many of the women, their greatest need was internal.

 

Every woman we employ has survived some level of trauma as a result of the Genocide against the Tutsi and subsequent civil conflicts in Rwanda. Some women lost their entire families – mother, father, siblings, husband, children. Others lost their identity. One of our employees knows nothing of her biological family or to what tribe she belongs because she was left as an infant …in a plastic bin on a bridge… while the war raged around her.

 

Many of the women we employ were intentionally infected with HIV as a part of a rape campaign that took place during the Genocide against the Tutsi. HIV-positive militia would infect as many women as possible telling them,

 

“We are going to let you live so you may die of sadness.” The goal was to ensure the killing continued long after the war had ended.

 

It became clear that, in order for true healing to begin, we had to address the trauma.

 

We hired two Rwandese-trained counselors who offered group and individual trauma counseling to our employees. This service continues to this day and the results have been transformative. Twenty-five years have passed since the Genocide against the Tutsi occurred and we still work with the ladies on dealing with the loss and violence and trauma they have endured.

 

Just last year, a prisoner in a Rwandan jail confessed to the murder of the family of one of our employees during the genocide in 1994. He identified the location of their deaths and Mary Claire, one of our counselors, was able to travel to the site with our employee, to support her as she worked through the reliving of her trauma.

 

To walk with her as searched for peace.

 

Step by step.

 

Because that first step in a new direction can be filled with uncertainty and doubt and fear. It can also be transformative and life changing and empowering.

 

Working for True Vineyard has made me a believer in the importance of “going”.

 

Figuring out the answer to healing pain, to poverty and desolation can feel overwhelming when we look at the big picture.

 

But maybe we shouldn’t.

 

Maybe one step through faith in a new direction is enough.

 
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Amy Brinkerhoff