Our First House: Solome's Story
In November 2012, Rosa traveled to Rwanda for the second time and volunteered for a microloan 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.
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.
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, Felix, Solome and her family work together to construct a new home.
Then in January 2015, Rosa 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; Rosa was not prepared for the warm welcome she received as they approached the house she 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 windows, 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, and Solome that will last a lifetime. Building Inshuti.