Today marked our final full day here, and it's safe to say we made every moment count. I couldn't have been more thrilled to spend my last day in the village, sporting my brand-new skirt courtesy of a gift from our New Mom Tailoring Group. Our day began with a quick stop to purchase hundreds of shoes, a small act that would make a world of difference to the families we were about to visit. Many of them were in dire need, either lacking shoes altogether or relying on worn-out pairs. Here, simple slides, costing just under $2, were the footwear of choice due to their durability.
Once we reached the village, we had the privilege of hearing from several women who had received goats from us. These women are now part of the group we've enrolled in our health insurance program, and their gratitude for the opportunity to access medical care was heartwarming. Over these past 7 days I have collected over 70 testimonials from various community members whose lives have been touched by GIFTS Rwanda, and the bonds we share with them are truly special.
Our day unfolded with visits to families in the homes that GIFTS Rwanda helped build through the generous contributions of donors like you. Armed with shoes and clothing, we felt a bit like Santa Claus, spreading joy wherever we went. At one stop, we observed how a family cared for the rabbits we had provided. Then, we trekked up steep hills to visit duplexes and descended to reach single homes. Despite living in remote areas, these families welcomed us with song and dance, a testament to their happiness and gratitude for the little they have. As we approached the last two homes, a young boy rushed out of his home and up the path to meet me with a heartwarming hug, despite never having met me before. His grip on my hand was firm, and he guided me to the next house after we finished visiting his home. I held him close as we spent time with the last family, and he remained by my side as we snapped pictures throughout the homes. Saying goodbye at the end of the day was bittersweet, but I made him a promise—I would be back soon, and the prospect of seeing him on my next visit filled me with excitement.
During our journey, we came across a family of six living under a makeshift shelter, a blanket propped up with a stick and a bush for shade. It was incredibly moving to convince the mother to accept our help in building a proper home for her family, and we'll be sure to keep you updated on the progress.
Each family we encountered has faced unimaginable challenges and hardships, yet their unwavering positivity, appreciation, and joy never falter. Their way of life serves as a powerful lesson for all of us. In fact, I believe that we can learn just as much from them as they can from us.
I am profoundly grateful for GIFTS Rwanda's partnership with the village of Rugarika and for the incredible opportunity I've had to serve this remarkable group of people. Together, we are making a difference, one step, one smile, and one heartfelt connection at a time.