Kibeho: The Holy Land

Kibeho is my place for this year-long fellowship. It is a small site located in the southern part of Rwanda in the administrative District of Nyaruguru. It is a three hours drive from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and only 30kilometers from Butare, a place where I spent four years getting my undergraduate degree. I haven’t been here before, but this is where my placement organization, Health Poverty Action, is based and so this is where I will live for the year.

Kibeho has a story:

The Catholic believers say the Virgin Mary appeared in Kibeho and promised to give water in this waterless place. This has an interesting connection with the work I am doing as a Community Mobilization Officer for HPA, helping to rehabilitate water springs in this area.

Today, Kibeho is the best known as a place of apparitions and pilgrimages. Sometimes, this brings large crowds to the town. For instance, on the celebration of Assumption in August, which celebrated Mary’s journey to Heaven, Kibeho was crowded with more than 10,000 people from different countries. People walked all the way from Burundi to visit. There were lots of tourists from Eastern African countries. Some of them didn’t wear shoes for the reason that they can’t set foot with shoes on the holy land. Priests came all the way from Europe and the United States. A very long line of people formed, each waiting to fetch the holy water and bring it back to their homes as a symbol of Christianity and to call blessing in their families.
On November, 28th – which marks the end of the Mary’s apparitions, Kibeho is expecting more visitors. In fact, this place has been renowned as a “Tourist Site” by Rwanda Development Board, as it receives many tourists who come to visit the holy land.

Every morning, on my way to the office, I meet women speaking the rosary in front of Jesus and Mary’s photos. I feel blessed to live at the Holy land.