Last summer I went to Rwanda for my global and urban ministries minor. It was a three-month trip, and I went with a friend from Moody Bible Institute.
We were working on community development projects with a Rwandan pastor, and we met these street kids one day. They were very poor, running around all day without shoes on. They begged all day. As we got to know these kids, learning about the things that affect their lives on a daily basis, we came back knowing we had to do something.
We decided to purchase a home for the boys. We’ve partnered with two organizations, one in Rwanda and one here in America, to raise money and get a staff for the orphanage. Now we’re continuing to raise support and establish monthly commitments to maintain the house. We call the project Hope for Life Ministries.
Watch Megan Swanson’s story, and find out why she started a home for street boys in Rwanda.
What was the turning point for you?
I couldn’t forget those kids. There is one night that stands out to me. One of the boys — we were walking home together — he begged me not to leave him because he didn’t want to sleep in the streets anymore. I remember that night choosing: I knew I couldn’t just go home and leave those kids there.
So what is life like for a Rwandan street kid?
They wake up early and walk around, looking for small jobs like carrying bags. If they’re lucky, they’ll get enough money to buy one meal a day.
At night they sleep in pipes, which offer protection. Ninety-five percent of the kids are boys because girls are too vulnerable to be in the streets. Some are orphans, and some were abused by parents, or their family was too poor to care for them. Out of the 11 children in the home, all but one had an alcoholic parent.
They’re at risk of being captured by the police. The government is trying to clean up the streets, so they’re sending the kids to jail. Eight kids were captured by the police the day we left. We had to prove the boys had a stable home. After the police saw the orphanage, they let them out.
What are the next steps for Hope for Life Ministries?
The next steps for Hope for Life Ministries are to continue raising support financially and to combine people’s skills and passions in ways that will help the home.
I’ll be traveling back to Rwanda in December, possibly with a couple of SPU students who have found out what we’re doing and want to get involved. We hope to train some of the staff in how to work with the children better and help out on a regular basis around the home.
How did SPU prepare you for a project like this?
Thinking back on my years at SPU, I’ve changed as a person. I’ve grown spiritually; I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I wasn’t strong in my faith. They’ve given me a vision of what it looks like to be aware of the world, what’s happening in it, and how to respond to the needs in our world.