Giving children and families in rural Rwanda a safe place to call home
In the rural communities of the Eastern Province of Rwanda, some families live in unsafe conditions. Heavy rains, flooding, fires and landslides in the area have caused significant damage to their homes, leaving families with makeshift shelters, at risk of collapsing on them at any time. The few belongings they own have been badly damaged by exposure to the elements. Caregivers want to provide their families with safe homes, but they live in extreme poverty and just don’t have the financial resources to rebuild.
Living under the threat of their homes collapsing, children are often don’t feel comfortable in their own homes. When homes are not safe it has a tremendous impact on children’s physical and emotional well-being. Children are unable to sleep at night and the worry of their homes collapsing on them makes it difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork and at their Compassion centres. Sadly, children often suffer chronic respiratory problems and skin infections due to the damp and poorly ventilated living conditions. Compassion staff have also reported poor self-esteem among the children, which can have a long-term impact on their lives.
Thirty-four of our Compassion partners identified 50 families in their communities who needed improved housing. Our partners wanted to help families gain access to safe homes with multiple bedrooms, a living space and a separate structure with a kitchen and bathroom. They knew that improved housing would allow for the holistic development of children and a safe, comfortable place to call home.
With your support, 50 families supported by 34 of Compassion’s local church partners were provided with the materials and labour needed to build improved housing. This intervention benefited 300 people in total, including parents, caregivers and children. Due diligence was followed to ensure that the renovated houses were better than their former state in both size and durability and that they were constructed according to the neighbourhood standard.
Any house with one room was updated to at least two bedrooms and a living room. Each home was constructed with a concrete floor; mud, iron sheet or timber walling; and iron sheet roofing. These materials were selected to ensure that the homes would be strong and durable.
A team comprising of caregivers’ representatives, project managers and centre staff supervised the construction of all 50 homes. Able family members made blocks and fetched water to help in the construction of their houses. Other members gathered stones, cut and transported trees, levelled the construction sites and helped transport cement and iron sheets to the building sites. Caregivers were organized into associations, where all caregivers in an association concentrated their efforts on building one house at a time. This method proved to be the most efficient to complete all 50 houses in good time.
The construction process faced some challenges along the way. One was that families lacked official documents to prove land ownership before construction began. The land registration and confirmation process created delays in the implementation of this intervention but was a necessary step to ensure others could not claim the renovated houses at a later date. Other common challenges included inclement weather during the rainy season, increasing prices of construction materials and delays in securing construction and renovation permits from local authorities. However, all stakeholders were able to work together to meet the project timelines and mobilized resources to come in under budget.
By the end of 2022, all homes had been completely built and were occupied by their families. Most homes have been dedicated to God, with only nine awaiting dedication. Basic furnishings were also provided to the families. Now, 50 families are able to live in a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment. Children are able to bathe regularly, eat food made in clean kitchens and focus on their education.
Before the intervention: Before the intervention, families lived and slept in old, partially demolished, small houses with un-cemented floors and low, leaking roofs.
Finishing touches: During the final phase of construction, the teams completed closing, roofing, plastering, floor cementing and painting.
House dedication: Church leadership, local authorities and Compassion centre staff dedicated the houses of benefiting participants. During the house dedication ceremonies, centre staff bought and delivered rice, maize flour, beans, cooking oil and vegetables to help families who needed food.
New furniture: Families who needed to furnish their homes received chairs, tables, beds and mattresses. These items provided functionality to the families so they could truly enjoy their new homes. They are so happy!
Enjoying the space: Once moved in, families had the opportunity to enjoy their new, clean spaces. Many families organize time together for chatting or family devotions in the living room. They also take time to make their beds and keep their homes clean and organized.
Your Gift Provides...
Your generous donation provided new homes for 50 families in desperate need in eastern Rwanda:
● Building materials:
– Cement, sand, stones and gravel
– Soakway for pit latrines
– Reinforcement steel and steel binding wire
– Mud bricks
– Timber and wood preservative
– Iron sheets, nails
– 100 metallic doors (2 per house)
– 150 wooden doors (3 per house)
– 200 windows (4 per house)
● Skilled labour
● Unskilled labour
● Water for construction
ReportA message from those your gift helped
Before this intervention, my life was good as long as I was away from home. Being at home meant that I endured the poor conditions of our small and very old family house. My parents are old and the only source of our livelihood is the small farm we have. It was uncomfortable to sleep with my sister in the sitting room, because the only room in our home belonged to our parents.
The cold and rainy seasons tortured us until they passed. Being a student, I couldn’t go around looking for enough money to reconstruct our house. Many community members live in poverty but some of them sympathized with our state.
Now, our life has changed for good because we now have a permanent address and safe accommodations. We’re no longer worried about the cold and rainy weather. Our sympathizers now celebrate with us the goodness of God. The dignity we lost due to our former state of helplessness has been restored. Those who despised us now respect us.
This change means a lot for our family because when a major basic need like accommodation is met, it provides stability and vigour to pursue other pressing needs. That way, we are sure of a bright future because God has proved to be on our side. I have learned that we need each other no matter what we have or don’t have. That is, before my parents became helpless due to old age and lack of opportunity, they regularly attended to various needs of community members over time. They belonged to one community group or other. As group members, they renovated houses of the elderly and contributed small amounts of money toward feeding child-/youth-headed families. Then, when this intervention came, the community members joined hands to do what was in their power; they made blocks, cut and transported trees and helped in the construction process.
We are very blessed by your love, demonstrated through your giving towards this intervention, which has ended our downhearted living.
ReportThank you for your generosity
With your help, 50 families in the Eastern Province of Rwanda are already enjoying their new safe, stable and clean homes. With multiple bedrooms, a living room and a designated kitchen and bathroom, families have both privacy and a space to spend time together.
Before the intervention, these beneficiaries had no hope of owning a family house in their lifetime because of the high cost of building a new house. Struggling to provide basic necessities for their families, they felt forced to live in their poorly constructed, leaking, dirt-floored shelters forever. Now, parents, caregivers and children are permanently protected from the elements and enjoy homes with bathrooms, kitchens and enough space for their families. Now, children can bathe regularly in their new bathrooms. Since their kitchen workspaces are easy to clean, they also are able to eat food not contaminated with dust or smoke. Children and families are also now able to sleep comfortably, allowing them to grow and develop in a healthy way and to better focus on their studies. Providing adequate shelter for children has a profound impact on every aspect of their lives. These homes provide a space where children can grow up feeling safe and loved.
Thanks to your support, children and youth in these communities no longer have to worry about their homes. They are able to feel safe in their homes and have seen the joys and accomplishments that can happen when their community comes together. Our frontline church partners also learned the art of resource mobilization and have commanded respect from their local communities for caring not only for people’s spiritual health but also their physical and emotional well-being.
Your generosity has brought stability to 50 Compassion-supported children and their families with newly renovated homes. Because of you, they now know what it means to be known, loved and protected. Your gift will not only bless this generation, but the generations to come.
ReportA message from a centre director
The intervention has significantly impacted the lives of Elizabeth’s family members. When her father was still strong and able, he built a family house out of the available means but with time, the number of family members increased and the house became small. As if that was not enough, time aged their house until the roof leaked and the walls cracked, threatening to fall upon the dwellers. The construction of the family house has restored their lost comfort and happiness.
This intervention has benefited the church by helping those living in greatest poverty whose needs the church had not yet met. Elizabeth’s family is among the most vulnerable who came to church regularly with the hope of receiving solutions to their most pressing need of accommodation. Through this intervention, Elizabeth’s family has been well provided for.
Before this intervention, Elizabeth’s parents had stopped coming to church services. Whenever we asked them why, the father attributed his absence to physical weakness and the mother claimed to take care of her husband. After dedicating their house, they’ve come to church services at least three times in two months. It’s evident that hopelessness had joined feebleness to discourage them from coming to church services. I believe they have now seen the power of God.
We are very grateful to God and you, who gave towards this intervention. May God’s goodness never leave you all the days of your lives.