a peace of the street

a peace of the street

An inspiring Mother’s Day story from the streets of Kigali and Canada

Every Saturday, a group of street kids meet at a church near the open market where they live. They call themselves Amizero (“hope” in kinyarwanda). They lift their spirits and their hearts to God, earnestly praying for change.  Many like Alexi (pictured) have lived most of their life alone on the street. When he was 7 years old, he travelled a long distance on his own, to get to the capital city of Kigail. He became caught up in the vicious cycle of stealing to earn a living and using drugs and alcohol to dull the pain and heartache. 

a peace of hope

“What gives you hope today?” we asked Alexi, during our visit to his house, a makeshift lean-to he built himself in an alleyway of the market.

“I have peace when I come here [to Amizero]; no one will beat me or put me in jail,” he answers with a smile. He counsels other kids living on the streets: “You have to have some hope that God will provide.”  And he has brought several of his friends, like Pelagie, to Amizero.

Pelagie’s early years are hazy. She doesn’t remember her parents. When she was 11 years old, she fled to Kigali after her mother (a woman who had taken her in) chased her away. “I walked to town…It took a whole week…I didn’t know anyone.” 

Alone on the streets, she started to sell her body, often to other street kids, to earn money. “I made between $2 to $10 a day, depending on the market,” she quietly shares. Today she does small, odd jobs like sweeping and cleaning to earn money, but it pays even less.

“Do you have any hope today?” we asked her.

“Yes, I have hope…that God will keep me and provide.”

work on the streets

Alexi too is attempting to earn money in a new way. He gathers coal and does any other small jobs that he can find. “I don’t steal anymore, but make a lot less…about $1-2 a day.” He hopes to go to school one day, to take training in plumbing or carpentry.

mama Amizero

Meet Mama Amizero, Epa (Epaphrodite) Nzungize, a young woman who decided to do something about the plight of street youth like Alexi and Pelagie. Though she herself struggles with poverty, including going without meals to put herself through school, she has a burden to help neglected and vulnerable kids living on the streets. “I was one of the first to join her group,” says Alexi. “Sometimes I go to her place for food. She is like my mom now.” 

During their Saturday meetings, Amizero are learning traditional dance, poetry and drama. Pelagie loves to dance. She hopes to go to school and learn sewing. All of the youth at Amizero look forward to using their new skills to earn a living, with more dignity.

We believe that all youth in Rwanda have an important role and contribution to make to society and building peace.

Amizero will be just one of many talented youth groups to partipate in the peace camp. In addition to raising funds for the camp, we have offered to help raise a small loan of $1,200 to help start their  dance troupe. Money earned from their performances will go into a group savings account to help meet their most immediate needs like food and shelter. Once the loan is repaid, that money in turn will support another one of our youth peace media initiatives in Rwanda, the AEBR Youth Peace Studio.

Contact us for more info about these projects at apeaceoflife@ymail.com. 

You may also donate online and support us in this youth peace media initiative. Both Epa and Alexi were featured in the winter 2010 issue of mosaic, a national, faith-based magazine.

mamas for peace

And from the streets of Canada….thanks, mom!

Amizero also have mamas in Canada, like Kathy Cheveldayoff (pictured), who care about them. Together with her husband Laurence, she is helping to raise funds for a peace of life, which includes projects like Amizero and the peace camp.

This past week, a peace of life held our first long distance fundraiser, compliments of skype. We thank “mama and papa” Chevy for all your effort and encouragement. We also thank the Women’s Association of First Baptist, Victoria for your time, interest and generous donations. You truly are mamas for peace!

Here’s an excerpt from their note of thanks: 

“What a delightful afternoon…That was so cool

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and worked so well. The ladies of the mission group were so touched by your story about the needs in Rwanda and the photos captured the heart…We will all be praying for you daily and for the families who have been so terribly traumatized in Rwanda. We will be in prayer that God will go before the Peace Camp and that His peace and strength will reign in the lives of these young people…”

Thank you so very much. With love, Nora
On behalf of the Women’s Association of First Baptist Victoria

In closing: A Mother’s Day prayer

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. ” (Hebrews 10:23-24; NLT version)

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