This group has been in formal existence for more than 10 years and is currently convened by Gaudance (wife of Augustin and mother of Justin, of whom more after Saturday). It started as a savings club, collecting from all members monthly then giving to one a sum big enough to finance a trading activity, for instance. They have gone on to encourage family activities and work with teenagers on the problems of being pastors' children, expected to model perfection. They need money to run activities in the long school holidays. I had to tell them I could see no way to help, apart from reviewing and advising on any grant applications.
This morning I installed myself at the African Bagel Company for the morning. First Rachel, who has been in Kenya preparing to bring 'Turning the Tide' (an active nonviolence programme) to Rwanda, came to plan next week's trip: 3 nights away in 3 guesthouses visiting 4 groups or individuals. Confirmation depends on Rachel consulting 2 people we couldn't get hold of, then she will book the guesthouses. I have only to think about packing.
Rachel, at the cafe in a garden she planted herself when this was the pastor's house and her husband Bucura was the pastor.
When I left, two years ago, Rachel was trying to make counselling her main occupation. She is still trying. There are plenty of potential clients but hardly anybody prepared to pay. She also works at her family's charity, 'Gate of Hope Ministries', mainly providing counselling and refuge for abused wives and servants. She has several other projects and continues to work voluntarily for the church, focussing on training Sunday School teachers now she has handed on the women's work. She is indefatigable.
As we are finishing our conversation Solange M arrives, right on time. I went to her wedding during my first project visit. She worked with me several times with Batwa and still has a video clip I took of climbing to a remote village. Now she has a daughter and a son and is completing her degree in social sciences. Her husband, an army officer, has just come home after 14 months in South Sudan with the UN force and the children hardly know him. But basically her life and health are better than seemed likely.
We are joined by Solange N, who also worked with me and has recently offered a 'Growing Together' component to a training for women at a remote Friends church. She has little work, however, like far too many of her contemporaries. She says little, and my French isn't up to generating a great deal of conversation. Then Solange M reveals that Solange N's employment prospects ought to be improving after a recent distinction in accountancy finals.
After I took this picture Solange got out her phone and showed pictures of her children. Then we found the SD card in my camera still had images from my last visit, encouraging reminiscence.
A very pleasant morning.