Isaac Mwambia is a 37-year-old Rwandan. He was born in Uganda to refugee parents who had fled Rwanda in 1959 due to ethnic discrimination. Isaac went to school in Uganda and returned to Rwanda in 2006.
Today, Isaac is coordinator of a pre-natal and post-natal project that provides midwifery services to vulnerable women in a low-income community of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city. As a graduate of Live Again Rwanda’s six-month lay counseling training program, Isaac believes deeply in the value of counseling in the work his organization is doing in Rwanda.
When he enrolled in the training, had a narrow view of its potential. Isaac thought he was simply going to gain some skills for giving advice and helping people “get rid of their issues.” He didn’t expect to learn new ways to live his own life, or to have a lasting impact on other people’s lives.
“Before I came to the counselling class, I was very judgemental and impatient,” Isaac recalls. “I had issues in my relationships. My relationship with my mother was full of conflicts, and we had a lot of problems relating to one another. I was such a perfectionist and a performer. I also had a lot of issues with my girlfriend. I realized in those counseling classes that my brokenness has caused a lot of wounds in her life. I was hurting people and didn’t care. I was pushing and insensitive.”
Isaac, whose job involves helping expectant mothers who have many personal, relational, and domestic issues, didn’t really know how to truly help them before his training. These women are often in illegal marriages, meaning their husbands can easily abandon them and their babies.
Since graduating from the counseling program, Isaac says he has become much more gracious and patient with the pregnant women he serves. His counseling skills have also enabled Isaac to help the women learn to deal with the conflicts in their households, including domestic violence.
Isaac is also learning much more about his clients – many of whom are single parents – than the details of their pregnancies. Isaac is learning about the many challenges in their lives, and assisting these vulnerable women in deeper ways. He’s coming alongside them and traveling on their journeys.
“One of the hardest things has been to sojourn with a mother who lost her baby,” Isaac says. “Without these counselling skills from Live Again Rwanda, I wouldn’t have known how to help such people as they grieve the loss of their own babies. I’m able to provide counseling to some of these women, which has definitely brought a level of comfort to their mourning.
“One of my current clients was abandoned by her family. Everybody thought she struggled with a form of mental illness . . . when I met her, I was glad that I had taken the counselling course because none of her issues were due to mental illness. She was lost, discouraged, and was struggling to find herself. It has been a beautiful journey to walk with her because I’ve seen her gradually coming back to herself, and breaking the myth about her being a crazy person. She is healing slowly.”
Isaac’s counseling training has helped him professionally – and also personally.
“With my relationships, I’ve been able to recover from the wounds I caused my girlfriend. Counseling brought an awareness that I had wounded her so deeply. I apologized. I sought forgiveness. I changed. Counseling transformed me. Also, my mother and I are better with each other now. We are not conflict-free, but I’m not as stressful a man as I used to be. I pay attention to issues before they happen. I have learned to take care of myself which helps me to give emotional support to others . . .
“I’m a changed man. I’m a transformed man. My work has been forever transformed. Thank you, Live Again Rwanda. Had I not come for these counseling trainings, my people would have suffered and died silently. Now, they’re more open, and we’re slowly rebuilding lives. I’m so grateful.”