The Ndengera compassionate ministry center, created by the Gisenyi Church of the Nazarene, provides restoration, reintegration, and support for orphaned children who have been infected or affected by HIV and AIDS, whose families have been victims of genocide, or who have been living on the streets.
Many young people who come from the streets have little or no formal education and are too old to go back to traditional schools. For these, Ndengera offers vocational training. Nsengiyumva chose to learn car mechanics, but programs in building construction, bead-making, sewing, and craft-making are also available.
Viviane, a 17-year-old member of Gisenyi Church of the Nazarene, recently enrolled in the sewing course. Her first experience with the church was in 2004, after losing her parents when she was nine years old. She was homeless and had no means of supporting herself or her brother. Rev. Simon Pierre Rwaramba invited her to take part in a soap-making project so she could earn money to help keep her and her brother off the street.
“Now, I have two chances,” Viviane said. “I am learning to sew, so if I have my own sewing machine, I can do that for work. If I don’t have enough clients in sewing, I can make soap.”
The focus of the vocational programs is to provide short-term training (up to nine months) that teaches skills young people can use immediately to support themselves and any younger dependents. For Viviane, the skills she has learned are empowering.
“I [don’t have to] go back on the streets because now I can help myself,” Viviane said.
For younger children, who make up the majority of Ndengera’s program, 24 volunteer case managers facilitate reintegration into traditional schools. They speak with school administrators to help get children accepted and then provide school fees and uniforms. Case managers regularly check in with the children and their families to understand their needs and help their new families address them.
Together, the people of the church in Rwanda are helping create new futures for children and young adults who need it most. Through the witness of the church, they are seeing our compassionate God, who desires to make all things new, breathe new life into their community.
Adapted from a story that originally appeared in NCM Magazine (winter 2011).