Help to self-help for disabled and vulnerable children


















Back home in Germany and looking back at the time we spent in Rwanda, we slowly realize of what experience we were blessed with abroad.

2 months, 4,406.50 euros collected donations, a lot of projects, a lot of new impressions, unforgettable memories and many new friends!

Thursday, November 7th, 2018. Arrival in Rwanda – finally there. After a long and sometimes challenging journey, we actually arrived. During our stopover in Kenya, we had to wait overnight in the departure lounge at the Nairobi international airport. None else but the cleaning staff and us, accompanied by background music from Bob Marley .. `don´t worry about a thing`, welcome to Africa. Soon after, all the lights in the airport building went out and we sat on our luggage in the dark, – feeling a little uneasy. It wasn’t long however before the building was brightly lit again. A few hours later we were on our plane to Rwanda.

After we arrived at Christine and Prosper’s house and moved in, and after catching up on a lot of sleep, our first discovery tour on our own ended only one hour later in a café. The traffic, the crowd of people, the first confrontation with being constantly stared at. The first visit to the market with narrow aisles full of goods and people, smells and to top it all the ‘butchers’ – was a bit too much for us at the start. During the course of our stay, however, we quickly got used to it and had to smile about this start-up situation again and again.

After a short familiarization period and the first visit to the HDVC Center, where we were welcomed with dance and singing, in cooperation with Christine we went directly to the collection of ideas for individual projects that we wanted to implement in the next few weeks.

On top of our list was the construction of a new kitchen corner. In connection with this, the purchase of necessary kitchen materials such as dishes, cutlery, pots and other little things for preparing the meal for often more than thirty people a day.

Malnutrition is not uncommon in Rwanda, many of the children are malnourished and receive too few important nutrients. Thanks to the construction of the kitchen corner, ‘porridge’, a type of oatmeal, can now be cooked at the opening days of the center. In addition to the provision of food, the mothers’ integration into the work of the center has also been improved, since after finishing the kitchen corner they took over the preparation of the meals. Every friday there was rice & vegetables – a beautiful end to the week. It was not uncommon for even the youngest to ‘inhale’ a plate full of food within a very short time. A behavior that we both have never observed before. Not surprising when you consider that most families can only afford one meal a day.

By creating beds and paths in the garden behind the house and repairing the rabbit hutch, including moving in of two rabbit families, the entire rear area of the center can now be used to grow vegetables. In the future, this will contribute to self-sufficiency with food. We were actively supported by the neighborhood. During the long, exhausting but also very funny construction days outside the normal center business – accompanied by loud music, subsequent meals together and the supply of banana beer – we received more and more insight into the Rwandan culture.

Besides redesigning the garden, the renovation of Vincent the Houseguard’s house was one of our larger projects. To date, he has lived in one of the center’s rooms with his wife and his 1½ year-old daughter. However, since this room was needed as a second classroom, the family had to move into the small hut at the end of the garden. It was in a terrible condition. Not only the leaky roof but also the lack of electricity, an orderly staircase and the lack of furniture made this ‘hut’ uninhabitable. In addition to the core renovation inside and outside, new doors and seals against rain and vermin, and the electricity supply, we were also able to provide new furniture and a new mattress. Thanks to the new staircase on the outer facade of the house, the children of the center can also use the second toilet now, because previously the high ascent was preventing them due to their physical limitations.

Outside the opening hours of “our Center”, we also visited an orphanage for boys in which around 120 street children found a new home. Here again we were able to provide physiotherapy. Both with the staff and with the residents themselves. In return, Ruth, a psychologist from Great Britain who works there in the camp, came to visit us in Kabuga. She instructed the mothers on techniques for trauma work, as still they had some unprocessed experiences due to the genocide in 1994. A model for the future as Ruth continues to actively support the HDVC center. Despite the more than twenty years that have passed since the genocide, the terrible past is still partially present. We actually became aware of this when we passed a construction site and discovered many pieces of clothing smeared with dirt on the fences. Christine explained to us that a mass grave had been opened by the construction site and the clothes had been recovered.

In addition to the electricity supply, we were also able to ensure the supply of drinking water in the center. The installation of a water connection was possible, so that the garden can also be adequately watered during dry periods, now.

We successfully repaired one of the two sides of the bridge over the rainwater ditch to the street: a load-bearing trunk had rotten in the course of last year, which meant that one side of the bridge could no longer be used.

A lot has been done not only in the outer area of the center. In addition to the installation of a pantry, the purchase of tables and benches for the new classroom and two mirrors for therapy, new locks were installed in the doors as well as broken window panes exchanged. In addition to all of these large construction projects, we were able to cover the costs for medical examinations and the necessary cardiac surgery for the little Belise, as well as medical care for other children.

It was a pleasure for us to be able to pay Clarisse’s school fees for the next two years, which will bring her to a degree that was previously a long way off due to her epilepsy.

Jeanvier, one of the oldest children in the center as well as the oldest of his 10 siblings, became the proud new owner of two sheeps, with which he started sheep farming. A very good opportunity for him to take on responsibility, to become independent and to contribute to the family budget, since his father is unfortunately going blind.

Unpaid rents for the center, salaries for teachers and houseguards for the past 6 months could also be paid, which was of great concern to Christine.

Shortly before Christmas, and at the same time our farewell, there was a big celebration on the last day, which we were also able to fund with the donations. In addition to a delicious feast of rice, vegetables, meat and fries, there was soda for the children and beer for their family members as well as for the hard-working helpers at the construction site. Each family also received a Christmas present, which consisted of 10 kg of corn flour, 2 kg of rice, 1 kg of sugar and a stick of soap. The clothes donations that we carried from Germany were distributed to the smallest of the little ones. An unforgettable day for a total of 68 people, including us, who happily returned home at night.

In addition to the activities in the center, we attended a national league football game. The ticket cost the equivalent of 2 euros – incomparable the atmosphere of the loudly singing and dancing fans. We had other sporting experiences with Prosper doing yoga, as well as in the following `walking meditation` with a Tibetan monk who instructed them – also simply unforgettable.

Between the holidays we took the bus across the country to Lake Kivu. We both realized how beautiful this country is. Located directly on the border with the Congo, we were able to observe active volcanoes and bathe in the hot springs.

We are happy and grateful to have had this experience and hope to visit the center again in a few years!

Lots of love
Katja and Robin

weitere Erfahrungsberichte

Before we take you on our trip, we would like to share the vision generation and how we finally came across the HDVC (Help to self-help for disabled and vulnerable children) project in Rwanda.
5 weeks full of impressions come to an end Our time at the HDVC Kabuga in Rwanda / Africa Our trip started on Monday, November 4th, 2019, from Frankfurt via Istanbul to Kigali a full 10 hours journey. Christine, the head of the HDVC Kabuga project, welcomed us together with her entire family in the […]
In January 2020 we traveled to Kigali, 6.203 km linear distance away from Koblenz. Impressions we were allowed to collect during our stay in the capital of Rwanda were overwhelming in so many ways. When we set off with a few donations in our luggage to actively support Christine Mukeshimana’s physiotherapy-oriented help-for-self-help project, we looked […]