10 May It Takes a Village to Raise Gisele
by Yevette Garcia
“It takes a village to raise a child.” This African proverb certainly rings true for Gisele’s caretaker, Clementine, a strong single mother of 7 children who often depends on the help of those in her community for things like food, school fees, and clothes. Our team gathered together to visit this wonderful woman who found Gisele in the forest when she was eight months old.
“I usually go into the forest and climb the mountain for prayer,” Clementine shared. Five years ago, Clementine joined her prayer group in the forest in the early morning and had passed by a young baby who had fallen asleep on some leaves. Assuming Gisele’s mother was nearby, they continued their journey towards the mountain only to return in the evening to find Gisele asleep and still alone. “God had said he would bless me with a baby, but I had often thought it would be a baby I would conceive naturally.” Some in her prayer group were frightened of the sight and cautioned her not to take the baby. There were many wounds around the lower parts of her body. She knew this child was special, a beautiful baby girl whom God had allowed her to take in as her own.
Clementine sometimes struggled to get milk to feed Gisele, but she trusted God’s provision and soon enough her neighbors came together and made contributions for Gisele and the rest of her family.
Six years has passed since then and Gisele is now a very shy yet lovely young girl! As we walked into her home, she nervously sat on my lap and played with a little elephant I had given her to break the ice. Gisele was very timid as she tried to answer questions about what she likes to do, but soon enough I pulled out and blew up a balloon hoping to see her break out of her shell.
She smiled bright and laughed as I struggled to find enough air to make the balloon big. We started tossing this simple toy back and forth around the living room and little by little she started speaking to me in a language I wished so deeply to understand. Although I had only spent a couple of hours with her, I felt the vividness of her pain. No child deserves to be abandoned, and as I tried to process and reflect on those feelings of hurt and anger, I realized that she wasn’t alone in her suffering.
We serve a God who was pierced on every side, who also suffered deeply and at one point felt forsaken. In his suffering, Christ took upon our sin and through him we are reminded of God’s unconditional love and protection over our lives. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5b) Gisele is not alone. She has a beautiful body of community surrounding her and loving her around the world. From the U.S. to her neighboring community in Rwanda, Christ’s love in this family’s life is both exemplified and felt.
John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Clementine’s role in this story shows the heart of Lahash’s Sponsorship Program in that it transcends the emotional concept of love into one that embodies the value of life on a holistic level. Gisele’s caretaker has chosen to love her because of God’s love in her own life. In Clementine’s love for Gisele and in their neighbor’s love for their family, God’s reflection of community and reconciliation come full circle. We are commanded to love one another. For Clementine and her family, that love is exemplified in her community’s support and through Gisele’s new sponsor.
I want to remind you that child sponsorship through Lahash International allows you the opportunity to be a part of improving a child’s spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Through sponsorship, you have the opportunity to be part of someone else’s story, and in exchange I promise your story will be changed as well. – Yevette