What an amazing day on Nkombo Island! It was absolutely the sweetest to meet so many talented artisans! But first, a little about this amazing place!
Nkombo Island is situated on Lake Kivu, right between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It is among Rwanda’s hidden treasures, with lush green hills and a peaceful breeze. It is the largest Rwandan island, 22 square kilometers, and is home to nearly 20,000 inhabitants. Nkombo is a natural bird sanctuary and is surrounded by Ishwa and Bweramata Islands on the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu. Here, there are only two schools, a small one run by the government and another started by the Anglican Church. [from enjoyrwanda.com]
As you can imagine, the resources are limited, with most finding their meager income through fishing. This island is filled with large families and many children who are struggling to survive. Our goal is to bring hope, see cycles of poverty broken, and women empowered to raise up strong, educated children.
Our journey started with a hike to the dock, a several minute boat ride across the water, then finished with a nice steep hike up onto the island. Everyone on the team loved each minute. We even got some good giggles out of the boat patchwork that happened as we traveled across the lake. Somehow, you just trust these guys with your life so easily. A handy local watched intently, and as leaks would present themselves, he was quick with a chisel, hammer, and cloth to plug the hole.
Meeting the ladies for the first time was a special moment. Joy, thankfulness, and excitement flowed freely from each artisan so that not even language barriers broke communication. There are just some moments that even words don’t do justice.
We were able to look at recently created baskets and also watch them create new ones. It’s a tedious process, but they make it look so easy! True talent.
The HPH team was able to introduce ourselves and then begin casting vision to the ladies of hopes, dreams, and goals! We feel the women are ready and able to begin taking large strides forward to see their success multiplied. Even their husbands and children expressed thankfulness and support of this newer project.
After a time of planning and new connections that will help the co-op run more smoothly, we went to the Pastor’s home, where his wife had prepared a generous and delicious Rwandan meal. We ate and enjoyed good conversation with the family and friends.
Being welcomed into the home of the locals is a special and humbling thing. We are so grateful for the time there, thankful for the progress, and looking forward to the next few days!