Most of Marie Gorette’s neighbors fled the genocide during The Crisis (1993–2005). “Everyone was displaced for two years. Everything was burned and destroyed. People were afraid to return. Some who were still in the refugee camps came to visit. Little by little they came back.”
Down the road from her, a neighbor’s mind broke when rebels killed his wife and children. He no longer plants his crops or cooks food for himself. Next door, an elderly couple’s only son lies on a pallet on the floor in the dark. Marie Gorette says that he’s always had a mental handicap. The grandparents must care for his two children.
“In the former time,” says Marie Gorette, “a Catholic charity took care of the vulnerables. Now it doesn’t work here anymore. For us, this was an opportunity to begin again.
“Before, even if I had a small thing—a cloth—I wasn’t willing to give it.
“We had a meeting. The priest told us they needed people from churches. He chose me with three others to be trained. They taught us to support orphans, whose parents are dead from AIDS, and other vulnerables. After the training, I was able to share and encourage others to share.”
Her parish put a cross at the top of the hill. They hike up there every month for prayer and to study how to live the Christian life.
“We will not stop like the charity did. People are convinced and so, involved.”
A World Relief Promoter visited Marie Gorette’s neighborhood and asked her group of ten households to choose a volunteer. Because of her reputation, Marie Gorette’s neighbors elected her.
She gathered with her Promoter and volunteers from 15 other neighborhoods every two weeks to learn about feeding children nutritious meals, exclusive breast feeding for the first six months, and preventing malaria and diarrhea. Then she returned to her neighbors and shared these health messages, mother-to-mother.
Marie Gorette volunteered for four years before she also became a peer educator for Our Children, a World Relief curriculum that teaches neighborhoods to care for the orphans among them. “I was chosen to bring messages to others,” she explains. “I did it faithfully, so they kept me and didn’t change.”
Eventually, Marie Gorette’s Care Group added members to become a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). She uses some of her share-out for those in need. “The orphans couldn’t go to school. Now we pay for books and pens. We each pay 4,000 BIF ($2.75). In our neighborhood, we go house to house. This is not concerning only Catholic church members, but all vulnerables.” Even while serving neighborhood vulnerables, Marie Gorette adopted two orphans herself.
“We don’t’ have many problems,” she says. “We pull together and help. Now that we’re convinced and involved, there’s no problem. Only the rain interferes when I’m trying to visit people.”