Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

Ikiyaga ( Lake) Kivu


Approximately 160k northwest from Kigali is the city of Gisenyi on the shores of enchanting Lake Kivu. The well paved road between is very winding, kind of ridiculously so at times, over and around stunningly gorgeous hill after cultivated hill and through many a trading center including the city of Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri) which lies in the Virunga foothills, gateway to Volcanoes National Park and the renowned ‘critically

endangered’ mountain gorillas. This was the place of work and research of Dr. Dian Fossey from the 1960’s until her murder in 1985. (You many recall the film ‘Gorillas In The Mist’ which chronicles her time here and the situation/circumstances facing the mountain gorilla). As the fee currently stands somewhere around $500US to track the gorillas for a day (or is it, once you find them, an hour..!) I just waved and wished them very well as we zoomed by!!!

Lake Kivu is very big and very beautiful! Although I thank Jinja, Lake Victoria, The River Nile and of course Beautiful Sipi Falls for the healing waters I found at each, after being land locked these past months I found it such a gift to walk along a wide open sandy beach and hear the lapping of waves upon the shore. Sparkling in the sunshine amongst the tiny rocks that make up the beach I was quite taken with these small pieces of shell? (I’m guessing) that look like zillions of little mirrors everywhere… I actually collected a few thinking they are so beautiful and a perfect reminder for me of the many facets of humanity Rwanda has clearly reflected for me during my ‘relatively short but right to the heart of it’ time here.

Looking across the huge lake one can see a ridge of mountains on the far shore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo… the city of Goma, DRC, is about a half day trip from Gisenyi… where among ‘other things’ Nyiragongo volcano erupted in 2002 covering the center of the city with lava leaving, I am told, what looks like a moonscape in some areas to this day…again, I waved!!!

I found my safe, peaceful, healing place at the lakeshore among some rocks….between, on my right, a windblown tree clinging its bared roots to one of the lava rocks at the waters edge in what I thought was some kind of terrific display of African strength and tenacity, and on my left, deeply carved, magical ancient rock faces that have been keeping steadfast watch for only they know how long… what they have seen, the incredible stories they could tell, I listened…

I was captivated by the distant sounds of little children laughing in the waves and I thought of Morning, Peter, Moses and all the children in Bukedea and wondered what they would think if they could see this wonderful place! They might be more used to sharing small mud type water holes with thirsty wandering cattle, that grow into ‘splash-able’ size after the rains…and I went off into some kind of dream when I will load them all into a ‘van’ one day and bring them to a lake for a real swim!!!

On the journey back to Kigali we came across a stretch of road where improvements are underway and due to a mini landslide that had just happened we were redirected down an extreme ‘secondary’ road, alongside a valley of tea and through a village that normally doesn’t see much traffic! Children quickly ran from all directions to line the dirt road, waving, calling out for empty water bottles and the occasional ‘franc’…most smiled and offered a ‘thumb’s up’ or even a ‘peace sign’ when they saw me at the window, (I was the only white on the mini bus)… at one point my eyes met those of a woman standing some meters away holding her tiny infant, we smiled at one another, she took the babies hand in hers and together they waved to me… one little girl sitting at the edge of the road talking with her friends let out a huge scream as she glanced up to see me looking out the window passing by only a few feet above her, which brought on a big laugh from those around her and all of us in the bus!

Back at the little auberge in Kimironko now and having visited the Kigali Memorial Center, connected with the project and center Nicole from Canada is working on here and taken the trip through some country side to Lake Kivu and back, I’m making plans to venture on, Malawi being the next country I am most wanting to visit. I will meet up there with two local men I met in Vancouver last year who are working tirelessly and with very limited resources to

care for the many HIV/AIDS orphan children in this small, is it the ‘5th poorest’ country in the world…? From here though, there’s Burundi to the south and I understand it’s not the best moment in history to visit there right now, and huge Tanzania to the east… so I’m figuring out how I’ll choose to get from here to Malawi and I guess once decided I’ll start out for there after a few more days of rest, seeing to this Rwandan version of a cold (cleansing…) I seem to be experiencing here these past couple days! Ya, there are voluminous, monumental type energies to ‘process’ here… and we’re all approaching our 2’nd consecutive full moon in watery (emotional, transformational) Scorpio 🙂

Love Love Love!
Cath xoxo

Ps…Correction re: my former attempt at Kinyarwandan… Muraho (Good day, Hello) and Amakuru (I am fine!)

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