Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Mr. Justin Nkunzimana
Christopher Reeve once said that a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
It has been a year since I started my service in the rural community areas of the Rutsiro District of Rwanda. I don’t know how I can express my appreciation and feelings about how I enjoy the inclusion of my community, but all I can say is that CorpsAfricas’ approaches have no boundaries and each and everyone, even marginalized communities and persons, are always welcome.
It all started at the time when I joined the community in December 2019, when I started working with my community doing door-to-door visits. On one visit and to my surprise, it was to meet one of the beneficiaries Murenzi (not his real name), a crippled man unable to move on his two legs but struggling to be part of us. He was taking a kin interest in listening to what we were teaching.
Since then he has been a good member and at the end of August, I decided to give him a surprise visit as I have always done, but this time to have more time with him. I stayed with him almost half a day.
The person am talking about is a 52-year old man with a family of seven children and a wife, of course the only bread earner of the family. Murenzi has a physical disability and crippled in one leg. During this visit, Murenzi opened up and told me how helpless and hopeless he was. He said that his life was a total mess because he lived and survived on begging along the roadside, sometimes waiting to be fed by his wife. He could not manage to pay the general health insurance or even pay the little contribution towards school fees for his children and had no hope for the future and his family too.
He went further to tell me that during one of my visits sometime last year in December 2019 when I visited him and started talking to him about our approaches, he felt like kicking me but realized he had only one leg and neither could not run inside the house. All he did was to listen to me but in despair, but towards the end of the conversation, his heart had started changing a bit and when he slept he thought about it and the next day that’s when he decided to come and join us with the rest of the beneficiaries or community members.
Though he had a feeling that may be these people give out money but they were not direct to me and it was out of such that he came too and when he inquired from others he realized it was about teaching and enlightening them on how they can make changes in their lives with the little they have, using the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach.
During our teachings he heard us saying that people with disabilities are human beings like others and given a chance they can work and live a better life, so he was inspired as we did not exclude him. As a volunteer, I kept close to him and from there he became an active member and started making saving contributions like others, something that excited him very much.
In the middle of this year, Murenzi decided to borrow from the saving coffers (the community had saved 30,000 RWF, or $30). He also had the money he had from selling of vegetables (10,000 RWF, or $10) from the kitchen garden made by CorpsAfrica, to start a small income-generating project. This is the time he launched his poultry project. He started with ten (10) chickens but now they have multiplied to thirty (30).
Murenzi now is one of the beneficiaries in his community who sells eggs, chicken and manure to his community members and is now able to meet most of the basic needs of his family, something that was very difficult to do before CorpsAfrica. It was not even in his dreams that one day he would own his own business.
At the moment he has plans to expand his business to be bigger and start supplying eggs and chickens out of his community to the nearest town of Rutsiro, but at the moment, since his production is still low, he only supplies shops in his community.
Finally, he said that through the approaches of CorpsAfrica, he managed to beat the inner fear he always had about life and especially knowing that he is disabled and uneducated. The most important thing that gave him strength and courage was to work in groups or teams that don’t discriminate and that consider his views/ideas during the community meetings. He said his life has now changed for the best and the future looks brighter than 50 years a go!