In 2008 Damascus Trust was invited to run the ’Support A Pastor’ programme in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Byumba in the north of Rwanda. To fit with the parish system in the Anglican Church, the programme is called ’Support A Parish’ in Rwanda. In 2015 we extended the programme into the Anglican Diocese of Gasabo, formed in 2011, which is part of the capital city, Kigali.
Whilst each diocese pays a basic stipend, the local parishes need to share in the support of their pastor and his family. Many of the poorest parishes cannot afford to do this, so the support that is given through Damascus Trust enables these parishes to have their own pastor. This also allows the pastors to fulfil their ministry without the burden to find other work.
Byumba Diocese is about an hour’s drive north of Kigali and in a very hilly area extending up to the Ugandan border. Most people survive through subsistence farming as well as seasonal employment. Gasabo Diocese is on the north side of Kigali and is partly urban and partly rural, which presents its own challenges. The same rules and regulations apply to both parts and the cost of living is much higher than in other dioceses. This means that we have to combine partners’ support to help meet the needs.
In both dioceses, church buildings are very basic, as are pastors’ houses many of which have no running water or regular electricity. Most pastors walk or cycle everywhere. The pastors receive training in the diocesan centres, but it is costly for them to attend courses and difficult for some of them to reach the required academic standard. Our financial support can help meet some of these needs.
Damascus Trust funds and participates in annual conferences for pastors and wives and for young people in each diocese. We’ve also been able to help with water-harvesting projects and other self-help initiatives. One of these is UBUSHUTI, our trading name for selling baskets and cards made by our partners in Rwanda.
Each year there is opportunity for Christians from the UK to be part of a DT team visiting Rwanda. For more details, please see our Teams page.