Name of Project: The project is known as “Amis de St Vincent de Paul” which in English is translated “Friends of Saint Vincent de Paul.”
Objective: At first the project was directed toward children living on the street and thus, was intended to provide them with an opportunity to study. As time progressed, this program offered financial assistance to some poor students who were about to abandon their studies (for lack of financial resources). In this manner we were able to contribute to the diminishment of the number of children living on the street.
A brief history of the project: The Vincentian missionaries from the Congregation of the Mission arrived in Rwanda in 1998 and in 2003 they opened a seminary in Kabgayi. In order for the seminarians to experience ministry with the poor, a group of children and young people who were living on the street was organized. Those who were consistent in participating in these meetings were later offered a place to live, eat and study. At this stage, we considered building or administering a welding workshop so that these young people could learn a trade and would be able to work in the future. At the same time, however, the children and young people who were with us continued to use drugs, were violent, and even stole things from the missionaries’ house. This experience made us realize that that we were sufficiently trained or qualified for this type of ministry and the experience was terminated. Nevertheless, because of our desire to continue to do good and with the financial help of a missionary who “had gone to a new mission in heaven”, (Fr. David Sarmiento, CM), we were able to help poor children and young people continue their studies. Project managers visit the families of the young people whom they are accompanying and from time to time they meet with the same children and young people who are the beneficiaries of the project. They engage in activities with these children (visit other poor people, work in a center for handicapped children and/or in a center for the elderly). During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic the “new poor” began to knock at our doors … people who had jobs but were now unable to work and as a result were unable to continue to pay for the children’s education. This is the new reality that our project and a Vincentian confrere (with competency in psychology) are confronting as they continue to assist young people in an affective and effective manner.
Headquarters of the project: This project, which helps individuals who are about to become street dwellers, is located in the local community of Kabgayi (Rwanda) … this is a house of initial formation for the Vincentian Missionaries of Rwanda/Burundi.
Conclusion: Thank you for allowing us to share with you this experience. We ask you to pray for us and we also assure you that we remember you in our prayers as well as all those who are doing good on this earth and all those persons who provide assistance so that others might continue to do good.
We also share with you some photos of the meetings with our beloved “Friends of Saint Vincent”.
Fr. Emmanuel Ukurikiyeyezu, CM, Administrator of the project, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Miguel Martínez, CM, superior local, email@example.com
Fr. Néstor Gómez, CM, Regional Superior of Ruanda/Burundi, firstname.lastname@example.org