The First house
Solome's Story
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Rosa first met Solome in November 2012 while conducting home visits and volunteering for a micro-loan organization. Ayinkamiye Solome had received a loan to raise rabbits which she hoped would generate an income to support her family. One year before, a landslide washed away the family’s home and they could not afford to build a new one. Solome, her husband Issac and their four daughters had been living in a corrugated metal structure with a tarp roof.

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Felix translated their ongoing struggle and it resonated deeply within Rosa. Solome and her husband, Kiyoge Issac, are genocide survivors. Issac lost an eye from shrapnel and suffers from PTSD which escalates in April, the anniversary of the genocide. Solome and Issac are both 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 stomach issues which makes working difficult.

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As they walked home, Rosa recalls discussing Solome’s hardships with Felix. She remembers the moment Felix turned to her and said, “You should come back next year and build them a house." Rosa initially thought this was impossible as she knew nothing about fundraising or building houses in Rwanda. However, the seed Felix had planted germinated and by the time Rosa was flying home, she knew . . . in a year . . . she would return to build Solome and her family a new home.

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In April 2014, a team of masons along with Rosa, Felix, Solome and her family worked together to build them a new home.

The house was constructed over the course of one month, at a cost of $2,500.

Thanks to generous donations from Rosa's friends and family Solome, Issac, and their four daughters moved into their home and began a new life.

This is just the beginning.

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Every year Rosa travels back to her second home in Rwanda to facilitate the construction of new houses. The reunion between Rosa and Solome is always joyous and heartfelt, as a special bond has developed between them over the years. Solome has turned her house into a home and even has an extensive vegetable garden with fruit trees.

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Today, Solome’s daughters are thriving. Emerance is married and a primary school teacher. Gentille is also married and recently gave birth to her first child. Jeanette and Joyce still live at home while attending secondary school and Solome works as seamstress to help support her family. Little did they know more houses would be constructed and a community of Inshuti would soon be built around them

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Issac, Solome, Jeanette & Joyce in 2012
The corrugated metal and tarp roof struture the family was living in.
When it rained the family huddled under an umbrella because there were holes in their tarp roof.
Issac lost his eye from a shrapnel wound during the 1994 genocide.
Joyce & Jeanette on the bed they share with their two older sisters.
Solome & Issac received a micro-loan to raise rabbits.
Solome, Felix & Rosa make plans to begin building the new house.
For the first house we kept track of everything with paper and pen. No computers.
Lava rock foundation for the new house built in front of the old structure.
Rosa helping move lava rocks to finish the foundation.
The first layer of adobe bricks are set.
Inshuti masons, Hassan and Jean-Bosco, set the center bricks to determine the size and shape of the rooms.
Scaffolding is built so the next layer of adobe bricks can be set.
Hassan using guide lines to keep the layers of adobe bricks straight and level.
Issac and Jeanette help carry bricks to the masons.
Yanze, an Inshuti mason, laying bricks.
Yanze, an Inshuti mason, laying bricks.
Gentille passing bricks to mason Hassan.
Rosa, Felix and Solome make plans for the pit latrine.
Digging the pit latrine is extremely hard work because the soil is full of lava rocks of various sizes.
Then the lava rocks are used to line the pit latrine to keep it from collapsing.
Eucalyptus wood scaffolding is erected for the roof.
Masons use machetes and line to cut he eucalyptus wood to the correct size.
The new house is constructed next to the old shelter.
The metal roofing sheets are attached and then adobe bricks are laid to the roof line.
The house begins to take shape.
Hassan begins mudding the cracks on the interior walls in preparation for cementing.
Jean-Bosco uses a machete to level the adobe bricks in preparation for installing a window.
Windows and doors are made by a local carpenter and then installed by masons.
Interior and exterior walls are cemented.
Cement stairs are built.
Solome and Issac rejoice when they can move into their new home.
Inshuti throws a party to celebrate the completion of the house.
Celebrate! The house is finished!
Solome and Rosa are life-long Inshuti.
On year later, Solome had made her house a home.
Solome, Rosa and Joyce in 2015.
Solome and Rosa in 2016.
Rosa, Issac, Solome and Joyce in 2017.
Solome in her yard in 2017.
Inshuti - Friends. Jeanette, Solome, Rosa, Joyce and Gentille in 2020.
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