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John Wesley Kabango (2007)

Reverend John Wesley Kabango

Reverend John Wesley Kabango

I attended the Kimmage Development Studies Centre Diploma Course 1996-1997 and the Post Graduate and Masters Course 2004-2007
The 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda left the Government, the Church and the international community with a number of formidable challenges. With nearly a million people killed in the space of three months, the social fabric of the country was destroyed, the economy left in ruins, and natural and human resources seriously depleted. Rwanda was already one of the world’s poorest countries before the genocide. The 1994 events led to a catastrophic increase in poverty, with about seventy per cent of households below the poverty line and with many women heading households because their husbands were killed or in prison. More than ninety of the population depended on shrinking plots of land of declining quality for existence.
Rural Development Interdiocesan Service (RDIS), Anglican Church of Rwanda, a church development organisation created to work with poor communities was re-launched in 1997. Its aims were to help subsistence farmers and all people made vulnerable by poverty. Its development objective was the enhancement of rural livelihoods through the increase of sustainable agricultural. A team of six development workers started working from scratch. I was appointed to be the Programme Coordinator. It is believed by Church leaders in Rwanda that the church has a central role to play in the socio-economic development of the people. The most significant achievement under my leadership was the development of an innovative programme, a Church-based Integrated Rural Development.

One of the projects initiated by RDIS was training on farming techniques and practices in the local community. In 1997, ten to twelve percent of the Rwandan population faced food insecurity and almost half of the children under the age of five suffered malnutrition. Eighty-five percent of the Rwandan population are farmers. Many of these were unable to provide a balanced diet for their families, due to inadequate production, insufficient arable land, high population density and weak agricultural support services.

Due to heavy precipitations during the rainy seasons, soil erosion is a major issue in Rwanda, as it leads to frequent landslides. Landslides are devastating for families who are already struggling to provide enough food from crop plantations on steep slopes.

 

RDIS organised twenty tree nursery projects in Rwanda. With 25,000 seedlings taking root in each project, the soil under them is strengthened and landslides in that immediate area are prevented. RDIS combined land terracing with tree planting and gave the population a chance work together. This contributed to the reconciliation process. People work together, reflect and act cooperatively to make a difference in their lives. This helps communities to socially and economically flourish.
RDIS is committed to a holistic approach of development. Malaria is an obstacle to this target, accounting for over forty percent of visits to health centres across the nation. Malaria is a challenge to organisations and charities such as RDIS who are working to enable people to have “life to the full” echoing Jesus’ words in John 10:10.

The pro-active involvement of RDIS in the issue of malaria is one of its many holistic approaches. It equips communities to combat this disease by running a five day course for community leaders. As a result, 25.000 households in the RDIS area are being equipped to reduce malaria by the provision of mosquito nets
From 1998-2001, I served as a Board member of a Microfinance Institution promoting the fight against poverty in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, under the supervision of World Relief, a USA based organisation. In 2001, I was invited as a Case Study speaker in Oxford (England) to share the experience of my organisation in the fight against poverty with representatives of about 200 development organisations worldwide.
On July 31st, 2014, I completed a PhD on Project Cycle Management with a Specialisation Course in Theology with the Atlantic International University in Hawaii (USA).
Since my education in Kimmage, the RDIS progress has been remarkable. The organisation worked to address challenges left by the 1994 genocide. Some initiatives include the following:

  • Build and strengthen a network where capable churches support weak churches to care for needy people. We developed a network with Tearfund UK, the United Evangelical Mission (Germany), the Dublin YMCA, ACTS and READ (Canadian Organisations supporting education), White Horse Ministries (USA) supporting women’s work. We also initiated a network with government agencies to implement social activities investing in the provision of basic needs. We initiated collaboration with United Nations Organisations working in Rwanda, including WFP, UNDP, and UNICEF.
  • Promote empowerment of poor people within the church and community through facilitating poor communities to engage in income generating activities. About five hundred saving and credit groups were created. Women were encouraged to access their potential to change lives through membership of the Mothers Unions.
  • Designing and implementing education projects which promote primary, vocational, secondary and University education for all.
  • Improved governance and efficient administration is necessary as a precondition to fight against poverty.
  • Commitment to prayer helps to alleviate poverty.

In Kimmage I learned approaches and activities that aim to improve people’s welfare and livelihoods. The course was directed to paying attention to social issues. I learned how development work is being dealt with in developing nations, particularly in rural areas where a large part of the population is engaged in farming. I was able to explore the issue of sustainable development, people’s empowerment and participation.
The course helped me in my work as I saw in practice how to apply the Kimmage development studies course, including leadership, human development, environment, sociology, economic development, gender and development, anthropology and adult education skills. All was possible because of the Project Planning and Management Course. I worked with all categories of human beings to plan, manage and evaluate implemented projects. Community in Rwanda went through a difficult time. The development work brought them to critically think on their social situation. They came up with knowledge and solutions aimed at reducing their problems.

 

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