The Women of Rwenena

January 9, 2020
  • Annette Scarpitta, Rwenena Kids Ministry Leader

As I prepare for my presentation to you this Sunday, January 12, at 1 PM in the chapel, I’ve been reflecting about the 10-year journey of Cedar Lane’s programming in the tiny village of Rwenena, DR Congo. Led by Annie S., the founders from the 7th grade, second session RE class of 2009 wanted to serve violated women. The cost of an income-generating project was prohibitive. The next wish of mothers was to see their children gain an education.

And so, with both Cedar Lane Congo Kids and Cedar Lane Rwenena Kids, our programming was restricted to education. In my mind, we wanted to make just a little bit of difference that might change lives for the better. That might have worked if the community could live sustainably, or even if other organizations served it in other areas. What I didn’t know until I set foot there, in 2013, was that our little blip opened up voices clamoring to be heard. No other outsider would listen. Their message? Thank you, and please, we need help in other areas. And who could blame them, I thought. I learned to navigate a hardened heart with respect for the dignity and worth of everyone in the village.

While education services continued, it was the Cedar Lane Ministry Team that stepped out of its mandated comfort zone in 2017 to approve 3 new and critical initiatives in nearly as many years: women’s literacy and human rights; rural life skills; and community-led development. Each would be implemented for us by a different Congolese organization, working closely with me.

Women have made remarkable progress in their journeys. Through the facilitation of our final implementing partner, men and women from rival ethnicities have united on a new path to self-sufficiency. Men realize they can no longer afford to disregard women’s strengths and talents, particularly in income-generating potential. Communications channels have opened, particularly with outside authorities. Is this a fairy-tale ending? Of course not. This is life, after all.

Please join me on Sunday as I share details and visuals about this unpredictable odyssey. Time will be hard pressed to end in 1 hour, so please make every effort to come on time (though if you must be late, come anyway).

We plan to have a reception at 2 pm.