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Rwandans Lives being Changed by Business as Mission Company


Authentic stories have the power to inspire and validate what God is doing through businesses that have a mission much deeper than the bottom line.


Cards from Africa in Rwanda has been creating stories of life change through its business for many years. Here's two recent stories Chris Page, the founder, had to share. To read more visit, www.cardsfromafrica.com.


Christine – Cards from Africa's Faithful Book-Keeper


Christine was already living at an orphanage before the genocide started. A few months before the fighting began, Christine's father took her and her siblings there, saying, "Do not tell anyone my name or your mother's name. If anyone asks, your parents are dead." That was the last time she saw him.


When the opposition army finally liberated the orphanage area, she remembers a huge sense of relief. "I could finally stop fearing for my life," she recalls. "I had been hiding the whole time, afraid that someone would kill me. When we were liberated, I felt the freedom from hiding, freedom from death."


Though Christine was no longer afraid for her life, she soon learned that her parents had died. In addition, the orphanage could not stay open, so she was suddenly in charge of her siblings. She was forced to find odd jobs, such as fetching large jugs of water all day to mix cement at construction sites. Life seemed hopeless, the work painful and endless. Even when she had enough money to buy food for one day, she was still unsure about the next.


Now that she works for Cards from Africa, Christine has found people who have a similar background, with whom she can relate. She has steady work that pays well, allowing her to support her family. "I wrote a song to commemorate the genocide," she says. "It is a song that tells people that it is time to stop crying. It is now the time to move forward with hope."


Christine hopes to one day go to college and get her degree. She would love to buy her own house, get married, and to have a family. But more than just hope for her life, Christine has hope for her country. "My parents' generation used to see people as different ethnic groups. But that is what led to the genocide. I have hope that Rwanda can be better as we learn to be of one mind, to see everyone as Rwandese, as one people."


Theoneste - Dedicated Card-Maker and Talented Musician


Theoneste is an aspiring artist who is full of love for all types of people. But his compassion has come despite terrible violence that wrecked his family.


Theoneste was only 11 years old when the Rwandan genocide occurred.  For 100 days, he and his siblings hid in bushes during the day, and went in search of new hiding spots at night.  Luckily, they managed to survive.  However, upon returning home, Theoneste discovered that both his parents had not.  He and his younger siblings were all orphaned, and Theoneste, being the eldest, was now in charge of the family.


Life was not easy.  Theoneste quickly learned that if he wanted something, he had to fight for it himself, sometimes literally. "I had to grow up very fast," he describes.  "You have to be tough if you want anything. We had no money, nothing to eat.  I felt like no one could understand me, so I became very stubborn.  If I wanted something, I would fight. I did not listen to others because there was only my way.  That is what you had to do to survive."


Then, in 2006 Theoneste found a job at Cards from Africa.  At first it was not easy because he had to work in a team.  "I would want to do things my way, and if others disagreed, I would want to fight.  But as I spent more time there, I learned that they could understand my life. " With the steady income he earned at Cards from Africa, he could stop worrying about affording food for his brother and sister.  As he experienced the love and compassion of his co-workers, he learned how to be more loving and compassionate himself.  "My favorite card we make is ‘Bunch of Hearts'.  It is a card that shows love, and in my heart I feel like I have more love for everybody."


When asked if he still gets into fights, Theoneste laughs and says, "These days, I prefer music to fighting.  I like to play my friend's guitar.  One day I want to buy my own guitar and learn to write songs."


I visited Theoneste in his home once, and listened to him as he played the guitar to me that he had made himself.  Much joy fills my heart when I think of the peace and joy that God has now given him.

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posted by Justin Forman | 4.14.2010 - 7:55 AM

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