The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has put our humanity to the test as we are being challenged to walk with the most exposed and vulnerable among us. Obviously, the preventative measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus, including government lockdowns, have thrown a great many into poverty and survival mood. It is in this regard that Jesuit Urumuri Centre (JUC) started an emergency relief program “Leaving no one behind – Emergency Response to COVID-19 Crisis” (a monthly effort) meant to provide assistance in form of basic food necessities for the poor and most affected families in our communities.

On Thursday the 4th of June 2020, JUC received at its premises and assisted over 50 families from the sector of Remera, in Nyabisindu Cell, villages of Amarembo I, Amarembo II and Nyabisindu. The beneficiaries were selected with the collaboration of local authorities by identifying families who are struggling to survive due to loss of jobs and other forms of income. Among them were families of an average of 5 members, who before the lockdown were teachers, taxi-moto drivers and street vendors. Also among them were families whose places of accommodation were destroyed by heavy rains and have been struggling to raise money for shelter on top of feeding their families.

Speaking at the handing over of these food items, JUC’s programs manager Mr Rugaba J. Julien sympathized with the beneficiaries advising them to care for one another and their neighbors as this is the time to do so “We are blessed to be able to support your families with these food items, but there are others in your communities who are also still in need and vulnerable. If you are able to, do share with them what you have and pray with them, we’re each other’s keepers and none of us know when this pandemic will end. We need each other.”

As was done previously during the month of May, JUC handed over food items that amounted to 500 kilograms of beans, 500 kilograms of rice, 500 kilograms of maize flour, 150 litres of cooking oil, and 50 kilograms of salt, an effort to make sure each family’s portions sustain them for at least a month.

Several members of the beneficiaries expressed their deep gratitude sharing that JUC has given them hope in humanity again. Mr Nshimiyimana Jean D’Amour said that he had heard of Jesuits and Jesuit Urumuri Centre before but was now even more delighted to witness and benefit from its good works. Mrs Mukankuranga Asifa whose previous source of income was street vending said “These last 2 and a half months of lockdown have been the most challenging of my life, my husband also couldn’t work as he is a casual worker at construction sites, we have worried every single day about where we will get food for our children, this support truly lifts a weight off our shoulders, thank you!”. Mr Mbanzabugabo Emmanuel, a father of nine, was a taxi-moto driver before the lockdown “If you can imagine sitting at home with 10 other family members depending on you to feed them, then you might know how helpless and hopeless I have felt; God bless these Jesuit priests for this assistance!”

Father Patrice Ndayisenga SJ, director of Jesuit Urumuri Centre continues to express his desire to have the Centre stand for those who have felt forgotten and are exposed to the harsh realities of the COVID-19 crisis. Besides, JUC is grateful to the benefactors who have enabled the Centre to lend a hand and make a difference in the lives of the most affected. It is through such generosity and solidarity with the destitute that Jesuits can confidently journey through the long walk to recovery with the people of Rwanda.