But Then, We Had Compassion

It’s Sunday morning, and in the distance I hear the Rwandan Church, lifting its praises to God. Familiar music and smells and sights fill the air and my heart fills with gratitude.

For the first time since my visit here four years ago, I am back in Rwanda.

I’m staying at a small hotel just outside of Kigali, Rwanda. After enjoying a delicious breakfast of eggs, tea and passion fruit, I ask the front desk concierge, Irene, to call me a cab. It’s time for me to meet up with the group of sponsors for the Rwanda Sponsor Tour.


I rummage through my bag and pull out the trip guide to find the name of my destination. Irene notices the Compassion logo on the front cover.

“Oh! I know Compassion! Praise God for Compassion. I was a sponsored child there for 14 years.”

Irene and I hug, like we are long-lost sisters. She shares more of her story with me.

“My parents were both killed in the genocide when I was only 6 years old. It was just me and my brother, and we had no one. But then, we had Compassion.”

Irene’s eyes light up and her smile widens when she begins to talk about her time with Compassion.

“My sponsors, Janet and James, did so much for me. They prayed for me. When it was Christmas and my birthday, they sent me gifts. They helped me get through secondary school.”

Irene graduated from the Compassion child development program in 2009 and continues to pray for her sponsors.

“Even though we no longer write letters, they are close to my heart.”

Irene is now an independent adult, working at the hotel and visiting the local child development center in her spare time. Irene and her country, once torn apart by the evil of genocide, now rise from destruction with songs of praise.

6 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Stephanie G July 3, 2013

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Katy! What a joy to have a chance meeting with a Compassion graduate. Some of my very favorite blog posts are those that profile formerly sponsored children. I always hope to see more of those 🙂

  2. Mike Stephens July 2, 2013


    you are so right “with God all things ARE possible” 🙂 who knows Paula maybe we’ll end up on the same sponsor tour or advocate trip to Rwanda and you can take a picture of me and Muhawenimana and I can take one of you with your sponsored child. I’ve seen more amazing things happen 🙂

    1. Paula Engle July 2, 2013

      🙂 That would be amazing, Mike. “My” Musabimana Janine is such a ray of light in MY life! It is truly my honor to sponsor her and see the changes in her life. I would love to hold her in my arms! Maybe someday! Peace!

  3. Paula Engle July 2, 2013

    Oh how I wish I could be there! My little girl lives near Nyakabungo, Rwanda and wrote in her last letter she wishes she could meet me. I firmly believe “with God all things are possible …” so maybe someday. Please post pictures, Katy!

  4. Vicki Small July 1, 2013

    Vestine, the girl I sponsor in Rwanda, will probably graduate–or at least, age out–by this time next year. I will be so sad to lose her; even though my loss will be temporary, I feel it keenly, already. She and her large family family love to sing and to pray. I once sent some gifts with friends, and in her thank-you letter, she itemized the items and then told me, “We are so grateful that we all stopped what we were doing to pray for you for half an hour.” I almost cried! I hope, like Irene, that she will have risen out of poverty and be able to support herself and, perhaps, help her family.

  5. ruth July 1, 2013

    What a lovely story! Irene is a beautiful lady all through. May God bless Irene and those who sponsored her!

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