23 Aug Helping Hands and Tears of Joy
Story by John Mutesa – ERM-Rwanda Sponsorship Director
“When I saw the team carrying sacks of rice and flour, a package of sugar and a can of cooking oil, for a moment I thought I was a dreaming, I lost my words and the next thing I felt was tears of joy running down my cheeks. I’ve never felt so much cared for!”
— Veneranda in Kigali, Rwanda
Ms. Veneranda Nirere is the caregiver of Yabesi and Claude (two children in the Sponsorship Program at ERM-Rwanda). She generates her household income by selling vegetables in her neighborhood and by doing laundry work at neighbors’ houses. Though her income over the years has always been low, she could provide at least one or two meals a day for her family and could also pay the family monthly bills such as electricity, water, and house rent.
When the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Rwanda and the first lock-down in Kigali enforced during March 2020, all her means of income were shuttered if not seriously shaken. She couldn’t sell vegetables in the neighborhood anymore, and she couldn’t do the laundry work as well. This is because her two jobs involved a lot of interaction with people from outside of her home and also involved going into people’s homes. Such movements were not encouraged by the government and the neighbors could not allow people inside their homes anymore. As a result her sources of income were suddenly cut off!
Veneranda’s household economic situation was already bad. She had no emergency savings for her family. The only money she had was the small capital for her vegetable business. As the lockdown progressed her household situation worsened and she had to start spending her capital on food items for her family. Sometimes taking just one meal a day and sometimes going a whole day without food! That was the struggle and the new normal for this family.
When the first lockdown was finally lifted, she had totally lost the family sources of livelihood and her capital as well. Veneranda’s family like many other low income families around Kigali was in a really tight situation. The house rent had accumulated for three months and the family members were getting worried of a potential eviction. Veneranda was struggling to provide food for her family and to restart her business from scratch.
One day however, she received a call from the ERM sponsorship team and was told the team is coming to visit. To the family’s amazement the team came with some good amount of food supplies. On that particular day the family had slept on empty tummies the previous night.
“When I saw the team carrying sacks of rice and flour, a package of sugar and a can of cooking oil, I thought it was a dream, I lost my words and the next thing, I felt was tears of joy running down my cheeks,” said Veneranda.
“Knowing that my family is going to have food for some weeks without me having to worry about it, is quite a huge relief,” she added. “This will give me time to reorganize myself and plan for my business.”
Through Lahash’s Covid-19 emergency fund, the sponsorship team at ERM-Rwanda has been instrumental in providing relief food, medical, and house rent support to many families affected by Covid-19 around Kigali. At the time of this story, in addition to providing food, ERM has also settled the three months of past-due rent for Veneranda’s family.
Join with Lahash’s partners all across East Africa to help make a difference for kids who need a helping hand right now. Donate to our Helping Hands Fundraiser to provide critical food relief, rent assistance, and medical support to families in need.