The fruit of longtime ministry is evident in many places throughout Rwanda. One of those places is Kibogora Hospital. One program initiated in 2013 by retired missionary Sheila Etherington is making an impact. Sheila initiated a community program to assist elderly and disabled people around Kibogora Hospital. The aim was to share the love and care of God with the most vulnerable members of the community. Currently, the program has 25 people enrolled and is headed by Aloys Habimana, a hospital social worker. Aloys and two other hospital employees, Thamar and Karen, make monthly visits to the home of each beneficiary, assessing needs and meeting those needs through the provision of health care, housing, food, furniture, home repairs, transportation or even small animals. The program is funded by hospital partners, including the Central Africa Healthcare Organization (CAHO), Kibogora Initiative and Free Methodist World Missions (FMWM).
Recently, we interviewed Aloys about this program. My husband, Emmanuel, and I had begun working together, along with Sheila, to determine if the program is continuing to meet the needs of the beneficiaries enrolled. I asked Aloys how client needs are prioritized and met. He explained several ways, including the fact that clients are given a chance to decide and express their needs and determine their priority. Aloys said, “We have a saying here, ‘Whatever you do for me, without me, you do against me.’” The client participation in decision-making has been a key.
We also interviewed beneficiaries of the program to learn from them how well their needs are being met and what opportunities are there for improvement. We were struck by the hospitality and hope of each person enrolled in the program. They were always happy to receive us along with the social worker. The resounding message they wanted to share with donors and friends of the program was one of gratitude. One young, paralytic man whose parents have died shared how the program plays the role of his parents. Another expressed his thanks by saying, “If I was not paralyzed, I would carry them (donors) on my back.”
The work of Free Methodist medical missions in Rwanda and other places in Central Africa are bearing fruit by providing healing and transforming hope in the lives of individuals and communities.