Three parishes in Welwyn Garden City have recently joined CAFOD’s Connect 2 scheme, giving them a direct link to see how their efforts are helping to improve lives in Rwanda.
The parishes of St. Bonaventure, the Holy Family, and Our Lady Queen of Apostles have long supported CAFOD’s commitment to ending poverty and working for justice around the world, with the Holy Family Friday CAFOD Group now entering its 40th year, and the simple fundraising lunches at St Bonaventure having long become a favourite with the locals. Through Connect 2, the parishes are now able to build a relationship with people with whom CAFOD works overseas. The parishes are connected to a women’s group in Musha, Rwanda, giving them the opportunity to share directly with the Welwyn parishes just how their support is changing their lives.
Bridie Nash, Secretary of The Holy Family Friday CAFOD Group, one of the groups that is involved in Welwyn Garden City said, “The Connect2 project really comes to life when you can see the people you are hoping to help and they can see us. I think we begin to look upon the people of Musha as our friends whose lives and families we follow and care about.”
Though more than 15 years have passed, the effects of the genocide are still felt strongly by the survivors. Many still live with emotional trauma, physical problems, and many others are still rebuilding destroyed homes.
“There’s a feeling we should have overcome the genocide by now,” says CAFOD’s programme officer Simon Nsabiyeze. “But trauma is not a skin wound, it’s a brain wound—it’s suffering deep inside. To heal trauma is not about bandages. It’s about rebuilding hope and dignity.”
CAFOD began working in Rwanda in 1994 providing emergency relief in the aftermath of the genocide. CAFOD’s work in Rwanda has continued through local partners to the present day. One of these partners, Avega East, provides counselling, medical help, legal support, and work opportunities for women in eastern Rwanda.
Feza, a community leader and mother of five, is one of these women. During the genocide, she was raped and contracted HIV. Through Avega East, she has been provided with drug treatment, trauma counselling, and has received assistance in obtaining a bank loan to help pay for building work on her home.
In November 2010, the Welwyn group wrote messages of support for the community in Musha, which were sent directly to Feza and her friends. Feza replied, saying, “We wish you blessings and peace from God and we are happy for your messages… We love you so much and thank you for the CAFOD people you sent to us.”
As well as the women from Rwanda, there are communities from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Brazil and El Salvador who are waiting to connect with people in the Diocese of Westminster.
More information on Connect 2 can be found at http://www.cafod.org.uk/connect2. If you or your parish would like to get involved in Connect 2, contact CAFOD Westminster at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8449 6970.