Footprints in Rwanda: 1994 to 2017


Footprints in Rwanda: 1994 to 2017

Our involvement in Rwanda began as a response to the genocide in 1994. In May of that year, MMM leadership, in conjunction with Trócaire, the development agency of the Irish Church, put together a medical team to help with the relief work.

We remained in this capacity until June 1995. With other missionary groups, we then considered the possibility of a longer-term commitment. Eventually two MMM communities were established. One was in Huye (Butare), where MMMs were involved in rehabilitation services for women and children and in work at the university medical school and hospital. We handed over in 2009. The other was in rural Kirambi, where we opened an official house. In May 1997 we took over the running of Kirambi Health Centre, and in November 1998 started the Kirambi Community Health and Development Programme (KCHDP).

Through KCHDP/Kirambi Health Centre families were assisted with capacity development in health and nutrition and with economic empowerment through agriculture. This included water projects and model farms as well as basic health care and education. At the same time we realized that the people had been through an extremely traumatic situation. They could not begin to better their lives until deep wounds were healed. An important component of our work meant listening and accompaniment and using programmes such as Capacitar, which teaches simple wellness practices.

In all our projects, collaboration with local government and committees elected by the community ensured that what we started will be sustainable.

Sharing in healing

We were also blessed at MMM Kirambi with experienced and dedicated staff members. Several of them wished to live our MMM spirituality and healing mission in a deeper way and made their covenants as MMM Associates. They include social worker Xavier Bizimana and Aloysie Mukamana, KCHDP assistant coordinator.

Our dream is always for the people to be empowered to take responsibility for their own health. With the government now able to run the programme with the diocese and the local community, after much discernment, we decided  that it was time to hand over.

On 29 January 2017, Sr. Elizabeth Naggayi, MMM, addressed the congregation at Mass and thanked the people of Kirambi for the opportunity given to the MMMs to serve them over the last twenty years. On 31 January 2017, we transferred the MMM ministry to the Diocese of Gikongoro.

It has been a gift to be part of the story of the brave and resilient Rwandese people, witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit at work as they moved from hatred, fear and mistrust to reconciliation, collaboration and self-reliance.