Isaac is a 39-year-old Rwandan. He was born in Uganda to refugee parents who had fled Rwanda in 1959 due to ethnic discrimination. Isaac did his schooling in Uganda and returned to Rwanda in 2006. Currently, he is a Coordinator of a Pre and Postnatal ministry project that provides midwifery services to vulnerable women in a low-income community of Kigali. As a graduate of the Live Again Rwanda six-month lay counselling training program, he talks about the importance of counselling in the ministry that he is part of in Kigali.
When Isaac enrolled in our program he thought that he was just going to gain skills on how to give advice and help other people “get rid of their issues”. But when Isaac came to our program he learned not only tips and skills, but he also experienced transformation in his own personal life.
“Before I came to the counselling class, I was very judgemental and impatient. 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 counselling classes that my brokenness has caused a lot of wounds in her life. I was hurting people and didn’t care. I was pushy and insensitive”.
Isaac who is in charge of receiving expectant mothers who have many personal, relational and domestic issues, did not know how to help these women with their issues. These women are often in marriages that are not legal, which means that a woman can be three months pregnant with her partner’s baby, but by the time she is nine months pregnant the man has left her.
It has been a few years since Isaac graduated from the counselling program. Since then, Isaac has found himself gracious and patient with people he serves. He has been able to help these women deal with the conflicts in their households. A big percentage of them face a form of domestic violence and some of it is quite severe. Isaac has been able to sit with them, sojourn with them and sees them as more than just beneficiaries of the ministry. He knows more than just their pregnancy status, rather he knows them personally and has been able to sojourn with them in a deeper way. Some of these vulnerable women are also single mothers and they experience a lot on their own and Isaac has been able to come along side these women as well and journey with them.
My Ministry Transformation
“One of the hardest things has been to sojourn with a mother who lost her baby and we have had some of these cases. Without these counselling skills I would have not known how to sojourn with such people as they grieve the loss of their own babies. I am able to provide counselling to some of these women which has definitely brought a level of comfort to people that are mourning. One of my clients was abandoned by her family. Everybody thought that she struggled with a form of mental illness, she even developed a sense of her own identity around her illness. When I met her, I was glad that I had taken the counselling course because none of her issues were to do with mental illness. She was lost, discouraged and was struggling to find herself. It has been a beautiful journey to walk with her because I see her coming back to herself on a daily basis, and breaking the myth about her being a crazy person. She is healing slowly”.
My Personal Transformation
“With my relationships, I have been able to recover from the wounds that I caused my girlfriend. Counselling brought an awareness that I had wounded her so deeply. I apologized. I sought forgiveness. I changed. Counselling transformed me. I am a different man today. (They were married in November 2016). My mother and I are better with each other now. We are not conflict free, but I am not as stressful as a man as I used to be. I pay attention to issues before they happen. I have learnt to take care of myself which helps me to give emotional support to others.”
“There is another case of a woman who lost her baby. The baby was burnt by hot cereal and she died as a result of her burns. I seriously I don’t know how I would’ve done this work with this woman without having these counselling skills. The journey was painful and I am grateful that I have been able to sojourn with this woman as she is now pregnant with her second baby. I am changed man. I am a transformed man. My work has been forever transformed. Thank you Live Again Rwanda. Had I not come to Live Again Rwanda for these counselling trainings, my people would have suffered and died silently. Now they are more open and we are slowly rebuilding lives and I am grateful.”