The Batwas otherwise know as Twa, are the smallest ethnic group in Rwanda, and are very much seen as the forgotten minority of the country. In general, they are a neglected tribe and suffer discrimination and marginalization. Many Twa children are unable to attend school or receive medical treatment from hospitals because they are often times denied identity cards needed for state recognition.
Journal Entry Day 5: We spent the day visiting a Twa community in a small village on the outskirts of Kigali. We were told many, if not most, of the people in this village had never seen a white person before so we were all kind of wondering how 11 of us showing up at the same time would go over... and it went just about the way we thought it would. We stepped off the bus into a circle of what seemed to be hundreds of villagers starring at us with wide eyes, skeptical looks and whispering to eachother in Kinyarwanda. We basically felt like a walking zoo and it was one of those feelings and experiences I don't think I'll ever forget. I was thinking, this is what it would be like for us if a random group of purple people showed up and parked their bus on our street. Fortunately, Phillip, the pastor of the village, had already spread the word that we would be coming and gave them our purpose, which was to spend the day with them, pray over them, play with their kids, learn about their community, see how they live day to day life, and most importantly, show them that even though the majority of Rwandans neglect them as a tribe, we would actually fly across the world just to meet them. We visited their huts, we held their children, we saw how they grew their crops, and made clay pots, and after a full day of jump roping, soccer, coloring, nail painting, singing, dancing and more singing and dancing we all were thinking to ourselves..."did we really do anything meaningful today?" That question was answered towards the end of our visit when two leaders of the tribe came and spoke to us (Peter translating for us). They presented to us a basket filled with beans as a gift of appreciation & with emotion they said they would never forget this day because it was the day 11 people came from across the world not only to just recognize that they exist, but to show them and tell them how valuable they are to us and to God.
The whole day was incredible and unlike anything I have ever experienced. We ended up being able to help out financially with the building of a school in their village, something they've never had. The money was presented as if it were being given from Jane and Peter's church and not from us, the Americans there on a short term mission trip. We did this with the mind set of wanting to empower rather than enable and encourage the concept of Rwandans helping Rwandans.
ni nziza cyane.
(God is so good, He's so good to me)