Friday, July 25, 2014

The Land of 18,000 Hearts

by Melanie Rohla
Melanie (center) inside a home in the camp
Lake Kivu, as seen from our guest house

Today was my favorite day so far! However, since both Kyle and Connor are also blogging and going into great detail, I am just going to share my most memorable experiences. So, when we drove to the Kiziba Refugee Camp, I loved waving at the people we passed. I loved how their faces would light up whenever we waved at them. As we drove up to the entrance of the camp, the little kids would run after our bus, smiling and laughing. It was adorable! My favorite part of the whole day, though, was when we were gathered with some of the refugees in the camp’s new library and we started singing a song in multiple languages. It was incredible how we all united through the music. It was truly many languages and cultures coming together. So surreal! Some of us, especially myself, got very emotional. It was so funny because everyone was staring at me and watching me cry. Later, multiple people asked me why I was weeping. 

After that, we got together in groups, with a couple of us and some of the refugees, and talked about the camp and our lives. During this time, I met and talked to a 22-year old guy named Audace. He told me about his life and the Congo, and asked me questions about America. It was amazingly easy to talk to him (he spoke English quite well) and a friendship quickly developed as he gave us a tour around the camp. During the tour, I was amazed at the size of the houses. A “small house” included a living room and a bedroom, and could probably fit into my own bedroom in America. We also got to see the bathrooms, which were all outside and consisted of two metal footprints and a drain on the floor - Definitely a change from the indoor plumbing we have, and it was quite an interesting experience to use them later. Another thing that was peculiar was how some of the kids kept asking for water, food, or money. I felt so bad when I had to tell them that I couldn’t give them any of those things! It just broke my heart! 

Anyways, we got the opportunity to walk back to Kibuye from the camp (which is a walk that some of the refugees do often). We got to see more of the gorgeous landscape, smiling children, and friendly people. We also learned some Kinyarwandan by conversing with people from the villages we passed, which was so helpful! After we arrived at the guest house, we were able to swim in Lake Kivu. Let me just tell you something about Lake Kivu: It is INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL - Lake Michigan has got nothing on Lake Kivu! The water was so clear, cool, and refreshing. The islands, shores, and waters are absolutely breathtaking. This “Land of a Thousand Hills” has definitely had an impact on me!!


  1. Great updates today. I am so glad you are still able to post from the camp. I am traveling for work all week and like reading your updates each night when I get on the train to go somewhere new.

    Last night I had a dream that you decided to come home for the weekend and then fly back on Monday. As much as I am excited to see all of you, I'm glad you are not doing something that exhausting. Enjoy the rest of your first week.

  2. Oh, how I would love to hear that singing! All those languages, mingling together. No doubt I would be weeping, too, Melanie. Beautiful!

  3. You know that I would have cried too! Crying is not always bad. Sometimes we can't pinpoint the emotions that actually make us cry, but just let it out! I LOVE the title of your blog. It's not 18,000 nameless people in that camp, but 18,000 real people with hearts. Sounds like you are in your element at the camp (except for maybe the bathrooms).

    Connor and Kyle.....Excellent descriptions of your day and your feelings. It is awesome to connect with other people across the world who you probably thought you'd have no connection with! I was surprised that some of them are connected on Facebook. Friendships can last a lifetime, even on FB.

    Looking forward to more posts from the team. They are incredible! I am referring to both the team and the posts!

  4. Your title seems so appropriate for the people you describe!

  5. Melanie,
    I love your write-up on so many levels.


  6. I am glad that you were able to go for a walk in what sounds like a very beautiful country. It is amazing what you all have done and accomplished thus far on the trip. The connections you are making are awesome, it is great to see God at work in all of you.

  7. YESSSS! To quote one of my favorite wise, old men, Albus Dumbledore, "Ah music, magic beyond anything we do here."
    Of course, I know it's not magic, but magical, from singing a song simultaneously in 4-5 languages to singing in the shower or on the bus! Keep on making music!

  8. we loved Melanie Rohla's blog
    we spent some time in Rwanda and find the country breathtakingly beautiful as well as so many of the people. Very interesting to hear about your faith journey
    Heda and Ron Christ

  9. Melanie - I know you were so looking forward to this trip but I'll bet you never expected it to be such a great and amazing experience. God Bless all who were involved in Faith Rwanda. I am so proud of you;.
    Love, Babci