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Charlotte is a 28-year-old Rwandan mother of three. When you walk into her home, the first thing you notice is how tidy she keeps her house. 

The second is the barely restrained joy that seems to radiate from her three children, Shadrack, Ivan, and Chantel, as they bounce around the room. Looking at them, you would never guess that Shadrack and Ivan were recently rescued from lives of isolation in the orphanage when Charlotte adopted them a year ago. 

Charlotte knows exactly what that sort of deprivation feels like - she and her two younger sisters grew up in an orphanage. She still chokes up when she shares how difficult life was for them after losing their parents in the genocide. Charlotte became caretaker of her sisters, eventually marrying young because she saw it as her only option to continue providing for her siblings. 

Charlotte’s pastor praises her courage and her heart as an adoptive mom. “She’s a great mama. Whenever she sees a child who has a problem, she is quick to help because she knows what that is like.”

Shadrack, her 16-year-old son, sums up simply what it means to him to have a mama, papa, and a home to call his own. “The difference between here and the orphanage,” he says, “is I have freedom here.” 

Sponsorship has allowed Charlotte’s family to purchase a cow, the milk from which she uses to feed her family and sell at market. As Shadrack and Ivan proudly display the cow to visitors, it’s easy to see the pride they have in their new forever family. 


“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES 

  • This summer’s Orphan Care PEACE Team trained seven churches in Kigali in how to start orphan care ministries. Those churches have begun gathering their members and casting the vision to care for orphans!
  • Orphan Care PEACE Teams helped raise up adoptive families and train lay social workers in Rwanda all summer! You and your family can go to Rwanda to be apart of the amazing transformation God is doing - email orphans@saddleback.com for more information.

If you would like to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to adopt a child from the orphanage, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship. Questions? Email orphans@saddleback.com.

Claver’s life changed dramatically at the age of 13. An orphan who spent most of his life living in an orphanage, newly adopted Claver was transitioning into a traditional family structure for the first time. And this transition, his new parents realized, was going to be a process. 

Developmentally, Claver had been delayed from years of being institutionalized in the orphanage. Issues in school arose because he had never learned how to interact with authority figures or other children. He also had trouble trusting his new parents. 

But Claver’s new family wasn’t about to give up on him. Claver’s new father, Bernard, knew with constant care, attention, and support Claver could flourish, it would just take a little time. 

Volunteers from the local church paid regular visits to Bernard, to encourage and train his large and loving adoptive family. They connected the family to sponsorship to help cover new expenses and school fees. Claver is now 15 years old and thriving thanks to the strong relationships he developed with his parents and siblings. He is also doing much better in school. Bernard proudly passes around Claver’s latest report card - boasting that he is now fourth in his class!

Sitting next to his son, Claver, and his younger son on the couch, Bernard explains his reasons for adopting, “You have to start with a wanting heart, not because others have done it. God has given me so much and I wanted to give back in a way. Now, I won’t sit down without a child in my home.”

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Claver's healing will be an on going process. The relational pain he experienced while living in the orphanage will require care and attention from a family who knows and loves him. His rescue from the orphanage made possible thanks to the support of the local church and the generosity of Saddleback sponsors, who give Bernard and his family the support they needed to bring Claver home.

If you would like to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to help a child leave the orphanage and gain a forever family, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship or email orphans@saddleback.com

When the sun sets in Gishita, Rwanda the sky turns to dark blue velvet. Stars twinkle timidly and lights from little homes dotting the hillside turn on one by one. The hills—bright green during the day—roll on in succession, with only the moon to light their division.

At night Bellia and her 6 year old adopted daughter Marie sleep in the same room. The quiet of home comforts them and Bible verses on the white walls whisper love and peace over them. Two cows low in the next room.


For years in the orphanage, Marie went to sleep in a dormitory with more than twenty other girls, praying for a mother to tell her goodnight. She woke up without a mother to dress her in clean clothes. She breakfasted in a room with a hundred other children, and no one to make sure she got enough food to eat. She trekked home from school to a concrete building with no one to welcome her. She closed her eyes without anyone to tuck her in and kiss her forehead.

Now, for the first time, timid Marie knows what it is to have someone who cares just for her as she falls asleep under Rwanda’s velvet night sky. In her husky child’s voice she babbles stories about her day, wonders aloud about everything she sees. She asks her mother serious and silly questions about what it means to be a girl navigating life at 6 years old. 


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Her mother, Bellia, is a Community PEACE Trainer – a volunteer who trains families from her church about healthcare. As a mother to four grown children, Bellia’s heart has always been for children. When she heard teaching from the PEACE Plan about God’s heart for the orphan, she decided to adopt Marie. She now also assists other families who have reunited and adopted by doing home visits and providing parenting support.

 “I decided God has done well for me, so I will do well for God’s kids,” she says.

Little Marie has been part of her new family for several months. It’s her custom when she meets new people to proudly introduce them to her mama. The blossoming love they share is evident to anyone who visits their home. Because of the local church and Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors like you, Marie and Bellia’s unfolding story is made possible.

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Bellia (left) with Marie (center) and Bellia’s grandson. All photos taken and used with permission.


“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES

We are excited to announce that Esperance, an orphanage in Western Rwanda that was using children to grow and harvest pineapples, is down to just two children left waiting for families!

When we began working with the local churches in that area in 2013, there were 130 children living and working in Esperance. Now 128 of those children have left the orphanage forever and each has been embraced by care of a loving family in the community – with your support and the diligent efforts of the local church in Rwanda!


Laurence is a 17-year-old girl living with HIV in Rwanda. Lawrence’s parents died when she was just two years old, and she was sent to live in the orphanage. For fifteen lonely years, Laurence didn’t have access to the care she needed, and at times the painful skin condition she developed from her disease kept her out of school and isolated from other children in the orphanage.

Laurence lived depressed and without hope. Because of her age and her HIV status, the orphanage claimed she was unadoptable-that no one would want her. Laurence couldn’t see an end to her loneliness.
However, that is not how Laurence’s story ends. Five hours away from the orphanage, a woman named Kabibi also lives with HIV. Kabibi lost two children in the genocide, and though she heard God whisper that she would one day have a family again, but without a husband she couldn’t see how that was possible. She asked God, “Will you make me laugh like Sarah?”

Through the Rwanda Orphan Care Initiative, Kabibi learned about Laurence, one of the last children left in the orphanage, and her heart broke. Kabibi knew God had redeemed her pain so she could redeem others, and she decided, no matter the opposition, she could be a mother to Laurence.

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As they met for the first time, Kabibi embraced her new daughter. Tears streamed down both their faces as Kabibi told Laurence, “I’m going to be your mother.”

Laurence saw that after years of living without a family, she could finally have a home with a mother who loved her deeply. She decided to go with Kabibi.

With the help of the local church and Saddleback sponsorship, Kabibi has been able to adopt Laurence. Just a few days ago, Kabibi went to the orphanage to get Laurence. At last, Laurence left the orphanage and came home to a family of her own - to a mom who will love her and make sure she gets the HIV care she needs.

Please keep Laurence and Kabibi as they now face the new challenges of adjusting to life as a family together in Kigali.  

Ten years ago in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, an unspeakable tragedy left a young unmarried girl, Joselyn, pregnant with a baby boy. She felt ashamed and broken.

Shortly after she gave birth, Joselyn’s aunt took the newborn and sent him to an orphanage hidden in the mountains miles from Joselyn’s home. Her aunt told Joselyn if she tried to find her son she would be arrested for abandonment.

Last month, diligent orphan care volunteers from local churches near the orphanage began to unravel now ten-year-old Eric’s history. The story slowly unfolded. They found out this child living without hope of a family actually had a mother. When Joselyn learned that her Eric was waiting—parentless—she found new hope that she could reunite with her son once again.

The orphan care volunteers talked Joselyn through the potential challenges of raising her son. Undeterred, she made the bold decision to bring him home. In the course of their conversations and parenting training, the volunteers asked Joselyn if she knew about Jesus, how He cared for her, how He had come to redeem her pain and make her whole. Joselyn accepted Christ that day in her home. She realized that her current accommodations—a small house doubling as the community bar—was no place for a child, and she chose to move down the street to a humble mud home, one with an extra room for Eric.

Local church members paid Joselyn’s way to make the grueling six-hour bus ride to the orphanage where she and Eric were finally reunited. Tears rolled down their faces as they embraced each other at last. As Joselyn dried her son’s eyes using her traditional Rwandan skirt she spoke to him with the soothing, tender words Eric had waited so long to hear, “ I love you. I can’t wait to care for you. I can’t wait to hold you.”

Mother and son are now back home in Kigali, adjusting to their new lives as a family. Through the generosity of sponsorship donors, Joselyn has the means to provide a better home and a smooth transition for her son. Eric will receive love from his own mother who can now provide medical insurance, school fees and the home he never knew.  He will hear and experience the love of Jesus in the arms of his mother, with a family of his own. 

This month, members of the local Rwandan church have decided to take a local PEACE trip to fix up Joselyn’s home, making it more suitable for their little family. They plan to paint the walls and add windows to the small rooms. Through the love, care and provision of Saddleback sponsors and members of the local church in Rwanda, Joselyn’s painful experiences have been redeemed through their miraculous reunion, and a little boy’s future is forever transformed.

You can help children leave the orphanage! If you are interested in helping families like Joselyn and Eric reunite, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship for more information.



 

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