Reconciliation is a buzz word in Rwanda, given the history of the brutal genocide in 1994. We were able to be part of a reconciliation this past week, within a family. It is also a story that shows how much wisdom is needed to help people in the best way:
P. is a 17 year old boy who is an orphan. His mother was a single mom and died when he was quite young; he never knew his father, but thinks he was a soldier. He was raised by someone in his mother’s family until about the age of 7, when that person died and then he went to live with his aunt and uncle in Shyira (where we used to work). This aunt and uncle are fairly well off, but they have five children of their own.
A couple of years ago, there was some dispute in the family about land, and according to P., his aunt said she would no longer take care of P. (land disputes are very common in Rwanda-we knew one man who had 6 children killed in a fire set by his brother over a land dispute). According to P, he was not treated all that well by the family, compared to the other children. P. was able to get a scholarship to a boarding school and began spending school holidays with other people, initially his brother, but the brother’s lifestyle involved a lot of alcohol and living with him was not a very desirable situation. P. began to spend a lot of time in Ruhengeri, where we live, and spent a couple of vacations in a house we help support for boys without families.
As we approached this school vacation, we felt that if we made it possible for P. stay in Ruhengeri, then we would be preventing a reconciliation between P and his aunt and uncle. In the meantime, we had heard several times from his uncle that P. could return and stay with them and in fact that he was sad that P no longer lived with them. We saw that if we “helped” P, as he requested, to stay in Ruhengeri during the holidays then we would be preventing reconciliation within this family. So, we sat down to talk with P, but he insisted that his aunt would not accept him back. After a few phone calls, she said he could in fact return. So, Saturday morning, P. left Ruhengeri with a couple of his friends to accompany him, and a big bag of rice that we provided as a present.
We are thankful that:
- P. was willing to forgive past hurts and fears and to return to his aunt and uncle
- His aunt and uncle, despite having 5 children of their own, accepted to have P. live with them and they also forgave past grievances
- Caleb had the wisdom to know that in this case, helping in a material way was not the right answer. He made the effort to understand the situation and get to the root cause to create a solution that would be glorifying to God.
Please pray that the situation works out well for everybody.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1