Christmas At Imbabazi Memorial 2017
On December 24, 2017, two buses, one starting in Kigali and the other in Gisenyi, made their way to the Imbabazi, picking up Imbabazi kids along the way. Riding the bus was fun and a reminder of how it used to be with all of us together. A lot of funny conversations were going on and we were surprised to see how everyone has changed over the years since we left Imbabazi. Most are doing well in life, but some are having difficulties and are working hard to overcome them.
Greeting everyone took longer than expected since we were seeing some of the children for the first time since leaving Imbabazi. It was wonderful to see some of our brothers and sisters who are now parents themselves. Roz would be so proud to see so many grandchildren!
When we arrived, the cooking team, headed by Phanuel (Roz’s cook), had already started cutting meat and chopping onions and vegetables in preparation for the big Christmas meal. Everyone was excited to see all the food and to see Phanuel again.
The Memorial program started at 10AM with a silent walk from the orphanage, down the main road, and up through the garden to Roz’s grave. Emmanuel gave a beautiful talk about Roz and all the wonderful things she did. Ishimwe led us in prayer, then we all headed back to the orphanage. We gathered in the dining room, where we used to have all our meals and where we used to gather for Christmases with Roz.
One of the reasons we decided to have a private memorial this year was because we wanted to have time to be together again and time to privately listen to how everyone is doing and what challenges they face and talk about how we can help each other overcome these challenges.
We listened to the older children advising the younger children on how to behave in the societies they are living in. We had question and answer sessions where children would ask questions or share experiences, and others would offer help. Most of the questions were about school or business, and many helpful suggestions were made.
Then, four of the older children started calling out names and handing out presents. It was a happy moment when the children heard their names being called and were given their presents. Young boys got mobile phones to facilitate communication and a bottle of honey to encourage healthy eating. Older boys got brand new long-sleeved shirts. Girls and mothers got fabric and beauty supplies.
Everyone was very happy to have a day like this and are thankful to the Imbabazi for constantly providing support. We are especially thankful to Michael Hunt and Randy Gebhardt, who always generously support our events and create happy memories for our “great family.”