Kibungo visitor: A center to help the needy ‘is my prayer, my dream’

Claire Nyirabagenzi has a dream for her community.

The Kibungo, Rwanda native longs for the day when she can help develop a resource center where those in need of support — whether that be financial, nutritional or emotional — can come for help.

In reflecting upon her two weeks in the United States — she is here for her husband Ernest Mahoro’s graduation from graduate school in Pittsburgh — the things that stood out to her most were those visits that might provide useful background in what kind of services such a center might offer.

There was the drug use support group in Pittsburgh, the peek into family life (including men who helped with household chores and with the children) while visiting in Nashville, the stop at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis and finally the tour of the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence here in Fulton.

“I was very excited, because it made me remember an organization I worked with in the past that would help people in need,” Nyirabagenzi said through Mahoro, who often translated for her because of her limited English. “We would care for people with HIV and send children to school, we did work with orphans to help them get a balanced diet and education, they used to work with women who were poor to help them economically.”

She laughed as she pointed out that sometimes she would forget about her own family — which includes four children— in her zeal to provide for those she was serving.

“Many times I used all my salary to help, because they needed the support,” Nyirabagenzi said.

Unfortunately, she said, that organization and others like it — funded through outside groups from the U.S. and Great Britain — now is gone, leaving the Kibungo community with no such resource.

“I remember when it closed, one woman asked me, where can we go?” Nyirabagenzi said. “I told her pray, and maybe God will help make it happen.”

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