Local family creating ministry to help rebuild Rwanda
Cherrie and Peter Jacques went to Rwanda for three weeks hoping to devote some time and energy to help the country rebuild.
When they returned home to Moose Jaw, they felt that there was so much more that they could do in a country that is seeing so much need.
With that, the couple and their three youngest children have created the Victory for Rwanda mission and plan to return to the African nation for an extended period of time.
“My husband and I went to visit Rwanda in May for three weeks and we came back and talked to some friends, talked to our church and we talked with lots of people in Rwanda after we got back. We decided in July that we would make the move,” Cherrie Jacques said. “There’s so much to do. Rwanda is so unique. The genocide was in 1994, so that’s only 24 years ago. They’re still really struggling to recover. Their whole infrastructure was lost and a third of their population was lost.” The Rwandan Civil War began in 1990 and in 1994 the Hutu-led government engaged in a 100-day genocide against the Tutsi population. Estimates range from 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed. That constituted a loss of an estimated 70 per cent of the Tutsi population and 30 per cent of the country’s Pygmy Batwa population. The genocide ended when the Tutsi-backed Rwandan Patriotic Front was able to seize power. When the toppled regime fled, they took with them all of the assets they could, including currency. With more than 40 per cent of the population having been killed or displaced, much of the infrastructure gone and the remaining population recovering from the horrors of the atrocities, rebuilding Rwanda is an evolving process. The Jacques have seven children and have done missionary work in the past, but their time in Rwanda felt like the right fit for them and their family. Their three youngest children, aged 11, 13 and 16 will be going with them to Rwanda. “We’ve been thinking about missions for about two years. When the older ones were younger, probably around 2012, I took them on a trip to Haiti to do a mission. One of my older sons has been all over the world on missions. We’ve always had a heart for it,” Jacques said. “We looked at Haiti; we looked at Kenya; we looked at Thailand. There was just something when we went to Rwanda where we said ‘yeah, we are needed here.’ I’m sure it has a lot to do with the people that we met there and the need that we saw there.”
The Jacques feel their skill-sets mesh nicely with the needs that they saw on the ground.
“My husband has his teaching degree and he’s taught vocational school before, so that’s his passion. My background is in finance and kids. So, it’ll work well,” Jacques said.
Their hope is to create a self-sustaining ministry that can provide nutrition and education to an entire community. They want to start with a farming initiative to raise chickens and rabbits as well as growing produce. They also want to start a nursery and primary school, so they can feed and educate the children in the village. They also want to start a vocational training centre to help in teaching young adults valuable skills like carpentry, welding and sewing.
“We’ve kind of got a three to five-year plan because we’re going to have to work with the government there and we’re going to have to work with the education board there,” Jacques said. “We did a needs assessment when we were there with a local community. That was really eye-opening. It was stunning to see all of the poverty and they still saw their biggest need as pri- mary and nursery education for kids and vocational school for adults. Those were the two areas they see as most desperate for their country.”
The Jacques’ house is on the market and once it sells they will begin the process of making the move. They plan to work with a village just southwest of the capital city of Kigali, in the Southern province. As members of the city’s Victory Church, the name of their mission was a natural fit. Their ministry has a logo designed by their 13-year-old son.
They have created a ‘Victory for Rwanda’ facebook page to keep people informed of the work they are doing. To support them, a run, ride, walk fundraiser was held recently and there was a bake sale at Victory Church the same day.
They are always looking for funding, but Jacques said just as crucial as that, they are also looking for partners.
“We need people that have the same heart that want to come along with us,” Jacques said. “Maybe they can’t come to Rwanda, but they can add their skills, or maybe finances, or maybe they could come for a term and teach English, for example. There are so many things that we’re going to need.”