Rwanda is sadly still known for the horrific events of the 1994 genocide where around 800,000 people lost their lives in 100 days of bloodshed. But on his recent visit there, British actor and Tearfund Ambassador David Gyasi found a different story. He saw a beacon of hope and reconciliation in an unstable region.
David first fell in love with the east African country while filming Shooting Dogs, a film about the genocide. His return to Rwanda couldn’t be more different. David came to see first-hand the work we’re doing through our partners to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty.
An example to the world
‘What I love about Rwanda is the people’s attitude to life and how they are determined to move forward,’ David says. ‘What seemed like an unrealistic dream a few years ago is coming true. The huge improvement in the infrastructure, how clean the country is and – above all – the positive attitude of people was a delight.’
David met with a group called Urukundo who turned their futures around by launching a business together. Urukundo means ‘love’ in Kinyarwanda. They started out as a Tearfund-supported self-help group and are now a nationally-recognised sewing cooperative. They even made David a bomber jacket whilst he was there, which you can see in the photo below.
Tearfund and our partners launch these groups to bring people together so they can find solutions to lift themselves out of poverty. It is a model that works because it gives people their voice and choice back.
David explains: ‘Tearfund is enabling this kind of transformation. They care about communities and focus on empowering people who are facing hardship. Tearfund brings a spirit of care and comradery that will continue to flourish.’
Power of forgiveness
David shares how this visit has helped shape his Christian faith. ‘It taught me about the power of forgiveness and the importance of accepting your contribution – positive or negative – to the past. But it’s also how you need to move on and make new things. That’s the power of new life, of resurrection.’
And it doesn’t stop there. For David or the people of Rwanda. ‘The most significant thing I learnt in Rwanda is that the pursuit of love, authenticity, forgiveness and healing is worthwhile. But these are essential goals for every nation… I think Rwandans could be world leaders in this.’
Father, we praise you for how you have turned things around for the people of Rwanda. We pray that you will continue to be at work as people be empowered to overcome poverty. And we pray for other countries that are rebuilding after conflict and war, that they will follow in Rwanda’s footsteps and choose the paths of love and forgiveness. Amen.
Want to read more life-changing stories from Rwanda? See how one Bible study group transformed a couple’s relationship and helped lift them out of poverty.
David is best known for roles in Cloud Atlas, Interstellar and Amazon Prime hit series Carnival Row. He most recently starred as the historical figure Bass Reeves for Western thriller Hell on the Border, directed by Wes Miller.