Sunday, March 09, 2008

Jacqueline, tell us who you are!

The neighborhood clean-up day here once a month provides an opportunity for people to spend a Saturday working on a particular project or simply filling in some holes in the roads. It also gives the Zone Leader a chance to meet with people to assess any problems or needs. Showing up late for our first meeting with shovel and rakes in hand, we found about 60 people gathered on the hillside already finished shoveling but reading out names and taking care of business of the neighborhood. Our arrival was noticed, being the only 'wazungu' (white people) around, and we were given a warm welcome and introduced.

Unknown to us, our neighbor, Eron, had already let it be known that we needed someone to work in the house, and the matter was brought before the Zone Leader at that time. The next day Eron appeared at my door with Jacqueline and informed us that this lady would release me from my broom and dish cloth and allow me to get on with more important tasks, while I would be providing someone employment, a single mom raising four girls, ages 8, 10, 11, and 14.

We learned a little of Jacqueline's story, but only weeks later heard more: that she and her family had escaped to Burundi during the genocide of 1994, and that her husband had fled to the Congo soon after that upheaval, and she has not seen him since. Already a trained teacher, she returned to Kigali after the genocide and managed to get a job with a European NGO and was trained in French tailoring and began teaching orphans and widows how to sew. Unfortunately the project closed because of lack of funds and the Europeans left, but gave Jacqueline a sewing machine and equipment to continue her own tailoring business. She managed to support her girls and pay their school fees while building a reputation for making beautiful traditional dresses for clients as they brought their own fabrics to her. Only recently however, a thief took her sewing machine and all her equipment, and that is why she stepped forward that day at the neighborhood meeting, seeking a job.

No one in our neighborhood could have known that I have had it in my heart for months and even years to help teach skills to women and now older orphans who have been left behind in their education, and that sewing was one of my first dreams to begin with! What was God saying to me by bringing this beautiful lady so skilled in this area to my home? I am sharing this with you as only the beginning of the story. We cannot predict how God will continue His work He has for us.

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