This post is adapted from the Missionaries of Africa site in the USA, but it is not about them; no it tells of brave Rwandan women seeing a need and working to fill it. Fr Denis P. Pringle introduces them.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress . . . .”
James 1: 27
These days, a lot of people seem to be discussing what it means to be “religious” — to have a belief in God that is demonstrated through words and actions. Even those of us who consider ourselves “spiritual, but not religious” search for ways to express our relationship with that which is sacred. Two thousand years ago, things weren’t much different among the first Christians. One of the first followers of Jesus, St. James, wrote a letter in which he offers guidance on what “true religion” is. He felt that few things are more important than caring for those who are less fortunate than ourselves — particularly widows and orphans. That is still the case today.
In societies where there are no government support services for the poor — widows and orphans are among those most urgently in need. Many live without basic necessities such as food, water, medical care and adequate housing.
Recently, one of our missionaries, Fr. Simplice Traore, wrote to ask if there is some way we can help the widows and orphans in Kigali, Rwanda, where he lives and works.
“During the Rwandan genocide in 1994,” Fr. Simplice writes, “a young woman began reaching out to women whose husbands had been killed and little children whose parents had been murdered during that tragic time. This young woman became like a mother to the orphans that she gathered. As time went by, the number of orphans increased tremendously — especially since she was taking good care of them. Unfortunately, though, she did not have the resources needed to continue her work. She was all alone. That was 25 years ago.”
“Since then, more than 100 other women have joined her and they are now officially a congregation of religious Sisters dedicated to serving poor widows and orphans. What a gift these Sisters are!”
“As I write this letter to you, the Sisters are working hard to construct a building where orphan children can live. The need for housing for orphans is critical in this community.
Unfortunately, the Sisters — themselves having little income — do not have the funds to pay any construction costs. They have been able to acquire a piece of land where a building will be constructed and local people are even willing to help with the labour — but still no one has money to pay for the building.
To learn more about the Missionaries of Africa, here are a couple of addresses:
In the UK: https://www.missionariesofafrica.org.uk/
We are hoping that you can help us. Whatever you can give will give all of us hope for a better future for these children.”