Appeal for Damascene

Massive thank you to all who contributed. We raised £540 to rebuild Damascene's house. He was extremely happy. I'll post a message from him soon, and hopefully pictures once the house is finished! 

Reconstruction Underway

Damascene with wife and son.


As many of my readers may know, I live in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It's part of the East African community, but geographically more central, high up in the mountains where Dian Fossey found her gorillas in the mist. If you're having trouble picturing it, this video gives a great snapshot:

One thing you learn about living in Africa is that you need people. Life is very difficult if you try to go it alone. It seems alien to friends and family back home, but most people here, both expats and locals, employ night guards and housekeepers.

Back in the UK, housework wasn't so hard. You put your clothes in the washing machine. You soaked the dishes in warm water. You ran the hoover around the house. You gave the bathroom a once-over. You mowed the lawn.
Damascene dug my garden to grow vegetables.

Here, I have no running water. No hot water. Certainly no hoover or lawnmower. I don't have a washing machine. All my clothes are washed by hand, as are my dishes. In the dry season, this often involves fetching water from the public taps.

Imagine trying to hold down a full-time job, getting home and having to fetch water, hand wash all your clothes, do the dishes, scrub the floors, pull up grass and see to maintenance.

There aren't enough hours in the day.

That's why I employ Damascene.

Damascene playing Omweso.

Damascene is my rock. He lives in a small self-contained hut behind my house. He protects the property at night, or when I'm away. He washes my clothes, hangs them out, and brings them in if it looks like rain. He makes sure I always have clean clothes and dishes. He goes shopping for me if I run out of food or phone credit. 

Damascene's house, behind mine.
Damascene is one of the most hard working and trustworthy people I have ever met. My life would be much harder without him.

He is married with a baby boy. His family live outside of Kigali because it is cheaper, and he remains here to work. 

He saves any spare money he can for the house that he has been building for them.

His house was extremely close to completion, they were just putting the roof on. Then disaster struck.

It is currently supposed to be the dry season, but over the past few weeks we have had torrential downpours and thunder storms. 

The 20th February was my birthday. It was raining heavily when I woke (see the video above). 

Damascene appeared in my front room extremely distressed. We don't share a common language, so I called my friend to translate for us. He told me that the house he was building for his family had been completely destroyed by the rain. 

My house is built out of cement. His is built using the traditional material of mud bricks. Without a roof, it had simply collapsed.

Traditional Houses
He sat in my kitchen, head in his hands. I had never seen him so upset.

If you live in Europe or the US and you contract someone to build a house for you, and that house falls down, you would expect to be compensated. Here in Rwanda there is no such compensation. The owner of the house is responsible for it, even though he or she did not build it. 

Everything Damascene had worked so hard for was simply washed away.

He had invested the equivalent of around £250 ($380/€340) in the building so far. £600 ($920/€810) would allow him to re-build in one go, including a roof to prevent heavy rain from flooding it, and to include a compound wall and garden.

I'm not sure we can raise all of this, but I would like to help to get him as close as we can.  

I'm collecting donations and will update the amount raised each day.

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