Stories of Change

Top: Surveying a damaged house after the earthquake. Middle: Metal sheets and other supplies are delivered to affected areas. Bottom: A repaired house.

Safe Homes for Families in Rwanda after Eruption and Earthquake

On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo erupted. The volcano is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the border with Rwanda. The eruption and resulting earthquakes caused emergencies in both countries, forcing thousands of families from their homes.

CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of organizations that, among other things, respond to emergencies. Our team joined the ACT Alliance response to Mount Nyiragongo’s eruption. While our partners responded in the DRC, we focused on helping families in Rwanda who had lost their houses. More than 1,500 houses in Rwanda were destroyed in the earthquakes that were linked to the eruption.

“We lived a risky life [after the eruption and earthquakes],” says Hairoy Niyombabazi, who lives in Rwanda’s Rubavu District. “Our house was damaged–when it rained, we slept in a corner of the house with our things and we couldn’t sleep well…we were afraid of the rain because we were scared that the remaining walls would fall on us too while we were sleeping.”

Her neighbor Issa Basesayabo added, “Sometimes it would rain with so much wind that I decided to sleep in the same room with the kids to avoid the risk of waking up and finding that the walls have fallen on them.”

“I was always sidestepping visits because I was ashamed of our damaged house,” notes Amina Batamuriza.

No one should live like this. No one should huddle with their children at night, praying that the walls that are supposed to keep them safe might wound them instead. In partnership with YWCA Rwanda, and with support from Week of Compassion, our team stepped in to help. We provided materials and construction support to 69 families whose homes had been destroyed in the earthquake. Today, those families are living in safe, sturdy new homes.

“We got the support of iron sheets and cement and we repaired our damaged houses. We are satisfied,” Hairoy says. “We had no hope to repair our houses. We were just waiting for Jehovah’s grace. He heard and he responded to us through your material aid.”

“My children now have their rooms because of your help,” Issa added. “I am very happy to see my children sleeping in their room again.”

Amina has a message for the CWS family: “You saved our lives! God bless you! May God bless you forever! I will pray to God for you to be refunded in turn.”