Walking down the street and peering into different shops in Musanze each one has a different story written behind its plaster walls. One story is that of a barber named Bambanze. To say he is only a barber is a lie. He also washes suits and trains the local boys in technical computer skills, making use of everything he has to make sure he can feed himself and the orphan he has taken in. This is the story of how he got where he is today.
Life used to be very grim for Bambanze. Growing up, his parents were too poor to care for him and his siblings, so they were sent to live with their grandfather. Shortly after they arrived, his grandfather died and they went to live with their other grandfather. Two years after he finished primary school, he lost his second grandfather and was left to care for his siblings and a young orphan left behind by his grandparents. He said that for years he was “jobless and working on the side of the road doing nothing.” That is not the life that any young teenager deserves, but that was the life that he was living. He said that he found his hope during that time attending church. As he got older, he began teaching youth about abstinence in the AIDS prevention “Choose Life” program.
It was his involvement in the church and Choose Life program that made him stand out to World Relief. He received a small gift from World Relief to start his own business and he chose to become a barber because it required very few supplies and it was something that everybody needed. Over the years he has been able to purchase a computer and this has helped him start another business providing technical training to the local boys in the village for a small fee. He is very clever in the way he uses absolutely everything he has in order to feed and clothe himself and the orphan he takes care of.
The relationship he has developed with the boy has become that of a father and son. When asked if he ever plans to leave Musanze, he replied, “I will not leave him alone until I see him growing into a big man.” He has put him in school and will make sure that he finishes school. He says that even though he doesn’t earn enough, it is better than nothing and he will continue to trust in God. He still regularly attends church and continues training in the Choose Life program and working with the youth. His trust in God was tested recently when thieves broke into his shop and stole his razor, but he says that he is thankful they took nothing else and everything is back to normal.
“My life has changed for the better,” he said and that has given him the strength to go on in spite of the many trials he faces day to day. His final words at the end of the interview were, “Continue to pray for us. We continue to pray for you.” We should all take a lesson from him and continue to trust in God, even when life begins to test us. His continual trust and faith has helped him immensely so far and will continue to do so for the rest of his life.