VISIT TO RWANDA – DELIVERING OF MAMA PACKS
By Antoinette and Isabelle Magambo
We met very aspiring girls on our trip to hand out mama pack to a small community of Rwandan mother’s to be. The mother’s had gathered at the Christian life centre and were waiting for us. This is a centre that has dedicated a part of their work to look after vulnerable pregnant women from the surrounding poor communities. About 35 women were present, and some had travelled as far as 10 kilometers to come to the centre. These women were hungry and some had not eaten for a day thus not receiving the right nutrition for the unborn baby. Fortunately, we had also packed mandazis and milk. After having a little chart with them, where they told us some
of their challenges – we proceeded to pass on first the mandazi and the milk, because some of them looked really hungry. They were very grateful and finished almost instantly the mandazi and the milk. Some saved the milk packets to take home to give to other children and other family members. Immediately after, we handed over the mama packs.
We had the chance during this time to speak to some of the women and asked them to tell us their stories. One girl of 17 told us a moving story - she had been impregnated by a married man, who abandoned her as soon as he heard at she was pregnant. She had no one to turn to other than her father who banished her and she was sent to live with her grandmother. Her mother was killed in the genocide in 1994. That is how she became a part of the Christian Life Centre, where they help her and give her food and water, along with free antenatal check-ups. As she was close to birth the girl was very confused about how she would deliver the baby and asked us: "I am very tiny, where will this baby come from". When we handed her the mama pack she didn't know what was inside, however after explaining each item to her, her tortured face lit up and she gave us the most beautiful smile.
We also spoke to an older woman who was suffering from HIV, she already had a toddler who was 2 years old and a 1 month old baby whom she was breast feeding. Unfortunately as the baby was feeding there was no milk for it to suck as the women was dry, hungry and thirsty, When receiving mama pack she was shocked and asked " why are we doing this, are you angels sent to me because l don't understand why people would help me" she took the clothes and dressed her baby instantly and fed the toddler the mandazi and drank the milk so she could continue to breast feed her baby. We asked her about her condition. She told us that thanks to the government of Rwanda, she had been given medication for HIV which she took every day. She however indicated that she had to have food to compliment the medicines.
I was very privileged and grateful to meet these women, and realized how lucky I was, and swore not to take anything for granted anymore. I cried a lot that day, but knowing that the Rwanda Sisterhood Association of which I was a member was able to assist in such a small way. I also hope that there will be many more women who will get the chance to see how wonderful sisterhood really is and those supporting it to feel a sense of pride as they are changing people’s lives in a small way. Together we can make a change, Let us start NOW!