South of the equator, in east-central Africa, Rwanda is known as le pays des mille collines or land of a thousand hills. Akimana Verera lives in an impoverished remote village in one of the eight districts comprising the Southern Province. Amidst the rolling greenery, she shares a modest home with her children, grandchild, and mother.
Verera is the only Deaf person in her village. Without other Deaf people, a lack of education, and a complete sign language, she faces communication challenges and isolation within her community. The nearest Deaf community and church are too far away in the town of Muhanga district. Too many miles and not enough resources make it impossible for her to attend services.
Verera tries to communicate with others by pointing, touching objects, and creating gestures that only she and her family mutually understand. This has led her to feeling a loss of confidence and despair.
The Rwandan Sign Language Translation team learns about Verera and, despite the distance, schedule a visit. The team doesn’t see Verera as a struggling, impoverished, uneducated, Deaf woman but rather a sister and a child of the Most High, a common chord that is bound together by the hope and glory of the Lord.
Upon arrival, the team senses that Verera’s confidence and emotional state are shattered. With overwhelming compassion, they pool their money to buy her food and a few household necessities. Her spirit is lifted by their act of kindness. They stay a while and share the life-giving Gospel message in her beautiful Rwandan Sign Language while teaching her new signs along the way.
At the end of the day, the team must start the long journey back home. Verera says an emotional good-bye, requesting that the team return soon to teach her more of God’s Word in her sign language.