Our First House: Solome's Story

In November 2012, Rosa traveled to Rwanda for the second time and volunteered for a mRosa, Ingabire Jeaette and Nikuze Joyceicroloan organization, Rwanda Sustainable Families (RSF). While conducting home visits along with her translator, Felix, she met Ayinkamiye Solome and her family. Solome received a loan from RSF in which she purchased rabbits to breed and sell. She hoped the income would help her family to raise enough enough money to build a proper home. At the time of Rosa's visit, Solome and her family had been living for more than a year in a patched together, corrugated metal structure with a tarp roof. Before that the hillside village in which they lived had been washeda away by a landslide. The government had moved the people to a safer location in Kanembwe Village and provided each family with land. However most people, including Solome’s family, could not afford to build a proper home.

Solome and Her Husband

Felix translated their ongoing struggle to Rosa and it resinated in a deep place within her. Solome and her husband, Kiyoge Issac, are genocide survivors. Issac lost an eye from shrapnel during this time period and suffers from PTSD which escalates in the month of April, the anniversary of the genocide.  Both Solome and Issac are HIV+. While they receive antiretrovirals from their government, they often do not have enough food in the morning to take with their medications. This causes them to have stomach aches for most of the day and makes working in their fields difficult.

Solome and Issac are blessed with four healthy, beautiful daughters; Nishimwe Emerance, Uwimbabazi Gentille, Ingabire Jeanette, and Nikuze Joyce. Unfortunately, the structure they built to live in is too small to house all six people. So Emerance and Gentille were sent to live with their aunts.Solome and he four daughters.

Rosa recalls walking down the lane with Felix after meeting Solome and her family. She remembers discussing their hardships and the moment Felix turned to her and said, “You should come back next year and build them a house." Rosa initially thought that this was impossible and there was no way she would be able to pull this off. However, the seed Felix had planted germinated and during the remainder of her time in Rwanda the idea blossomed. By the time Rosa was flying home, she knew . . . in a year . . . she would return to build Solome and her family a home. 

We Build Them a Home!

In April 2014, Rosa and Daniel set off for Rwanda were they worked with Solome and her family to construct a new home.

Then in January 2015, Rosa and Daniel traveled back to Rwanda to build more homes and of course visit with Solome and her family. The anticipation of seeing Solome, Issac, Emerance, Gentille, Jeanette, and Joyce was overwhelming; Daniel and Rosa were not prepared for the warm welcome they received as they approached the house they had helped to build. Even with limited resources, Solome had made her house a home for her family. Curtains of old fabric were hanging in the windoSolome, Jeanette, Joyce, Rosa and Daniel one year later.ws, washing was hanging on the line in the backyard, and ugali (cooked maize and cassava flour) was boiling over an open flame. During the construction, Solome’s gardens had been damaged but she spent the year replanting and even made a stone wall out of lava rock. This wall created a yard space where she could cook, do washing, and allow her children to play.

Solome works as a seamstress and her daughters are progressing in their education. Emerance who had moved to Kigali, is now living at home, and teaching in Kanembwe's primary school. Gentille has entered her first year of secondary school, while Jeanette and Joyce continue in their primary school education. All of their lives changed from the experience of building Solome’s home. A bond was created between Rosa, Daniel, and Solome that will last a lifetime. Building Inshuti.

 

  • Rosa meets Solome and her family in November 2012.

    Rosa meets Solome and her family in November 2012.

  • Solome's old, corrugated metal and tarp house.  The only materials Solome and Issac could afford for their new home was volcanic rock for the foundation, pictured in the foreground.

    Solome's old, corrugated metal and tarp house. The only materials Solome and Issac could afford for their new home was volcanic rock for the foundation, pictured in the foreground.

  • Their tarp ceiling had holes in it and when it rained they all huddled under an umbrella to stay dry.

    Their tarp ceiling had holes in it and when it rained they all huddled under an umbrella to stay dry.

  • First, we begin to fix the foundation Solome and Issac built.

    First, we begin to fix the foundation Solome and Issac built.

  • Foundation work continues.

    Foundation work continues.

  • The first layer of adobe bricks are laid.

    The first layer of adobe bricks are laid.

  • Solome dreaming of what her new home will be like.

    Solome dreaming of what her new home will be like.

  • Hassan and Jean-Bosco take careful measurements while laying the foundation.

    Hassan and Jean-Bosco take careful measurements while laying the foundation.

  • Yanze Lazaro, mason.

    Yanze Lazaro, mason.

  • Lazaro and Issac.

    Lazaro and Issac.

  • Issac carrying a barrel at the construction site

    Issac carrying a barrel at the construction site

  • Near the end of the third day of work.

    Near the end of the third day of work.

  • Nyirabandi Denise, Solome's mother, helps carry bricks to the masons.

    Nyirabandi Denise, Solome's mother, helps carry bricks to the masons.

  • Hakizmana Hassan, mason.

    Hakizmana Hassan, mason.

  • Work continues on laying adobe bricks.

    Work continues on laying adobe bricks.

  • Issac carrying mud, used as mortar, in a jerry can split in half.

    Issac carrying mud, used as mortar, in a jerry can split in half.

  • Interior walls begin to take shape.

    Interior walls begin to take shape.

  • Yanze Lazaro laying adobe bricks.

    Yanze Lazaro laying adobe bricks.

  • String is used to keep each layer of adobe brick level.

    String is used to keep each layer of adobe brick level.

  • Solome's mother, Denise, and Solome.

    Solome's mother, Denise, and Solome.

  • Adobe bricks are delivered by truck then unloaded by hand.

    Adobe bricks are delivered by truck then unloaded by hand.

  • It takes about 5 trucks of adobe bricks to build a standard Inshuti house and pit latrine.

    It takes about 5 trucks of adobe bricks to build a standard Inshuti house and pit latrine.

  • Majyambere Damascene, laborer, carrying adobe bricks

    Majyambere Damascene, laborer, carrying adobe bricks

  • String is used to keep each layer of adobe brick level.

    String is used to keep each layer of adobe brick level.

  • Yanze building the back wall.

    Yanze building the back wall.

  • Daniel unloads mud, used as mortar, for Jean-Bosco.

    Daniel unloads mud, used as mortar, for Jean-Bosco.

  • Slowly the house begins to take shape.

    Slowly the house begins to take shape.

  • Rudasingwa Felix helping carrying adobe bricks to the masons.

    Rudasingwa Felix helping carrying adobe bricks to the masons.

  • Yanze constructing the back wall of the house.

    Yanze constructing the back wall of the house.

  • Scaffolding is built out of eucalyptus trees so the masons can add the next layer of adobe bricks.

    Scaffolding is built out of eucalyptus trees so the masons can add the next layer of adobe bricks.

  • Solome picking cassava leaves from her garden.

    Solome picking cassava leaves from her garden.

  • Bangamwabo Jean-Bosco.

    Bangamwabo Jean-Bosco.

  • Tools of the trade.

    Tools of the trade.

  • Windows will be ordered from a carpenter.

    Windows will be ordered from a carpenter.

  • Issac and his daughter Jeanette.

    Issac and his daughter Jeanette.

  • Eucalyptus trees are used for the roof scaffolding.

    Eucalyptus trees are used for the roof scaffolding.

  • One of the masons nails eucalyptus trees into place for the roof scaffolding.

    One of the masons nails eucalyptus trees into place for the roof scaffolding.

  • It takes two days to complete the roof scaffolding.

    It takes two days to complete the roof scaffolding.

  • Next step is to lay the corrugated metal roof.

    Next step is to lay the corrugated metal roof.

  • The masons after completing the roofing.

    The masons after completing the roofing.

  • After nailing the metal roofing into place, the masons add the final layer of adobe bricks to the roof.

    After nailing the metal roofing into place, the masons add the final layer of adobe bricks to the roof.

  • Felix, Solome, and Rosa planning for the pit latrine.

    Felix, Solome, and Rosa planning for the pit latrine.

  • Digging the pit latrine.

    Digging the pit latrine.

  • Lava rocks are dug from other areas of Solome's land for the pit latrine.

    Lava rocks are dug from other areas of Solome's land for the pit latrine.

  • Layered lava rocks provide a foundation for the pit latrine's cement slab.

    Layered lava rocks provide a foundation for the pit latrine's cement slab.

  • Handmade new wooden windows and doors.

    Handmade new wooden windows and doors.

  • Jean-Bosco prepping to install the windows.

    Jean-Bosco prepping to install the windows.

  • Hassan cementing an interior wall.

    Hassan cementing an interior wall.

  • Hassan smoothing the cement.

    Hassan smoothing the cement.

  • Hassan looking out of a newly framed window.

    Hassan looking out of a newly framed window.

  • Cementing the floors.

    Cementing the floors.

  • The cement floors nearly finished.

    The cement floors nearly finished.

  • Daniel painting.

    Daniel painting.

  • A mason cementing the exterior walls.

    A mason cementing the exterior walls.

  • Windows after being cemented into place.

    Windows after being cemented into place.

  • Solome, Emerance, Rosa, Jeanette, Gentille, and Joyce.

    Solome, Emerance, Rosa, Jeanette, Gentille, and Joyce.

  • Steps leading into Solome's new house.

    Steps leading into Solome's new house.

  • Solome and Issac excited to move into their new house.

    Solome and Issac excited to move into their new house.

  • Friends and community come together to celebrate with Solome and her family.

    Friends and community come together to celebrate with Solome and her family.

  • Issac, Solome, Rosa, Daniel, Jeanette, Gentile, and Joyce.

    Issac, Solome, Rosa, Daniel, Jeanette, Gentile, and Joyce.

  • Inshuti's Solome and Rosa.

    Inshuti's Solome and Rosa.

  • Solome's home one year later.

    Solome's home one year later.

  • Joyce, Rosa, and Solome.

    Joyce, Rosa, and Solome.

  • One year later, Solome created a courtyard with leftover lava rock, replanted her gardens, and made her house into a home.

    One year later, Solome created a courtyard with leftover lava rock, replanted her gardens, and made her house into a home.