In the east of Rwanda, in a rural area of Gatsibo, is a church built on land that supports many poor villagers of different faiths, including 70 women who have HIV due to the legacy of the Genocide that ended in 1994.
The church hosts a school where more than 150 children receive a daily main meal and in many cases, the meal will be all they have to eat in a week. At least 60 of the children attend school for free because they are orphans or have mothers with HIV, who due to prejudice, fear, and ignorance are unable to get work as no one will work with them, so they and their children go hungry.
A pastor at the church formed an HIV support group and when I visited, the woman told me their stories. They said there were many more women who could not attend, nor could their children go to school, as they had no clothes and were ashamed.
The women said that those of them who could work tried to help the others, and that some of them saved a tiny amount each week. When asked what they were saving for, they proudly said coffins so that they could be decently buried. This is their immediate future without food or work as they are unable to take their medication without eating, so they know that if they go hungry, they will die very soon. This is their shared fate.
The church bought the group two sewing machines so that they could learn a trade and work from the back of the building, but as there are 70 or more women, they need more machines and a building in which to work.
CDUK want to sink a well near the church for village use by people of all faiths. Currently, the only clean water has to be collected and paid for at a government water source several miles away at approximately the equivalent of one penny per litre.
The church collects fresh water for cooking and has to use rainwater from muddy puddles for washing when it rains. Disease from the polluted water is rampant. CDUK want to provide two water harvesting tanks that will collect rainwater for the church to enable better hygiene and cleaner water access for all their cooking and personal needs.
We want to help the women to make a secure building where they can meet, with room for at least 10 sewing machines, tables and storage so that they can learn a trade, support themselves, each other and their families.
Then maybe they will not need the coffins so soon, as they will be able to eat, take their medication, earn a living and look after their children safely.