06 February 2012


I remember each of my three children in those first hours. Those moments after the drama of birth is over and we sat quietly watching each other. Small eyes trying to focus after endless days forming in complete darkness. My eyes trying to focus through a wash of tears that continue to blur my vision each time I recognize how beautiful the miracle of my child is and how blessed I am to be the one holding this tiny one.

I remember wondering - "who will you grow to be? and what adventures will we meet along the way? and will I be strong enough/brave enough/smart enough to be just who you need to walk this journey with you so you can grow into fully you?"

Visiting a mother in a hospital in rural Rwanda brought all these memories surging back as I saw her eyes gazing down at her precious newborn. It was the day after they had both done the hard work of delivery - of birthing - and now, sitting in the stillness of window light and gathered friends, there was a bursting sense of peace and joy all tangled up together in the room. As she held her baby, a look caught in her eyes. A bliss, a wondering, a dream for this little one. I remember that feeling. That love that swells so big, one can't possibly contain all the hopes and joys and fears inside and it spills over into tears.

I noticed how fully the plain cotton blanket wrapped snuggly around the baby contrasted with her momma's brightly colored African print dress. It's as if even in the choice of cloth it is being announced that this little one is a fresh page beginning in the world. A world that is often cluttered and beautiful and filled with both wild celebration and jarring chaos. A world not unlike the fabric of Momma's dress. A world that draws & colors out own unique pattern as our journey surges forward.

This baby is no different than mine - except she was born to a rural Rwandan family. As we prayed together, I asked God to show Himself off with her little life. To grow with her into a strong, Godly woman who brings change and peace and hope into her community.

UNICEF facts & figures

  • 60 per cent of the population in Rwanda lives below the poverty line.
  • Rwanda’s population is young. Out of the 8 million people living in Rwanda, more than half are under 18years old.
  • Rwanda has one of the world’s worst child mortality rates – one in five Rwandan children die before their fifth birthday. Malaria is the leading cause of infant and child mortality (29 per cent).
  • 42 per cent of Rwandan children under five years old are malnourished.
  • More than 400,000 children are out of school.
  • Rwanda has one of the world’s largest proportions of households that are headed by children (i.e. children raising children) with an estimated 101,000 children heading up some 42,000 households.
  • 8.9 per cent of the adult population is HIV-positive.
  • Between 9 and 13.4 per cent of 15 to 24-year-old females, and between 3.9 and 5.9 per cent of 15 to 24-year-old boys are HIV-positive.
  • By 2001, an estimated 264,000 children had lost one or both parents to AIDS – representing 43 per cent of all orphans.
  • 613,000 Rwandan children between the ages of 0 to 14 years old are orphans.
  • 88 per cent of women have to walk for more than one hour to reach a health facility.

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