Steven Blake, a point guard for the NBA “Los Angeles Lakers” has been sponsoring a Rwandan orphan Sweet Divine.
They came to know Divine through Pastor Charles Buregeya, founder of Africa New Life Ministries, who visited their church in Portland for a preaching.
Pastor Buregeya is a native of Rwanda and his ministry aids in the rebuilding of a country devastated by genocide.
He brought bios of children from Rwanda waiting for sponsors, Where Steve and his wife signed up to sponsor a little girl named Divine.
“For years our family wrote and received letters, sent gifts, watched short videos of our sponsored child, and faithfully sent our money, each time hoping it made a difference,” says Steve.
“Last year we were asked if we might like to go with the next team to Africa and meet our child. My wife and I began to contemplate the idea. There were so many questions and concerns ranging from adding more travel to my already packed schedule, to leaving our children for so long since I have never left them for more than a few days,” he adds.
“At first we dismissed the idea, but it wouldn’t go away and ultimately, we knew we needed to go,” Steve adds.
The couple visited Rwanda in August- September 2.
“We headed to Africa New Life’s Kayonza campus where we met our sponsored child. In the morning we started on projects around campus,” explains Steve.
Steve and his team repainted the orphanage our church built several years ago.
“Divine was very shy at first, but opened up to me as we colored, played Frisbee, did gymnastics, sang songs, and read books. We bonded in a way I didn’t know was possible in a few days. She was very proud of us and excitedly introduced us, as her sponsors, to everyone we encountered.
Divine had no idea Steve played basketball, nor did she care. Right before we left, someone told her he plays basketball in the USA. She just shrugged, confused as to why this was supposed to be important information.
She didn’t care what Steve did, or who he was beyond knowing he has changed her life and because of this, she has hope for her future.
Both of Divine’s parents passed away when she was young and her grandmother’s poor health made it too difficult for her to care for Divine.
The home is of a small structure about 8 feet x 8 feet and Steve who’s 6’3” in height had to duck just to fit through the door. There were no beds, no tables, no bathroom; none of the modern conveniences we take for granted every day.
Living in the orphanage, Divine attends school in Rwanda, has health insurance, eats three meals a day, has clothes and shoes, has running water, toilets, and showers, and sleeps in a bed, not on a hard floor.
“We traveled with a team of 30 wonderful people from our church and other local churches, and after several days of airports, planes and baggage, we finally arrived at our new home away from home, the Africa New Life guesthouse in Rwanda,” said Steve.
Steve Blake had a lot of fun while at the Kayonza orphanage.
“At first the boys played soccer among themselves, but slowly our team started to trickle into the game. I joined the kids in the hot Rwandan sun and showed off my good soccer skills,” He says.
Teenagers in Steve’s group played with the children, others rehabilitated the library, while a few others made “Brown Bear” books with about 50 sponsored children.
“Leaving Divine that day was incredibly difficult. Divine cried nonstop because she didn’t want me to go. The staff told me to be happy, for now Divine will carry Steve and I in her heart always, knowing she is deeply loved and cared for and matters to someone,” says Steve’s wife.
“Rwandans are a truly wonderful people full of love, hope, kindness, and generosity. We made many new Rwandan friends. Regrowth and rebirth is seen at every corner in Rwanda and I am encouraged that Africa New Life’s programs will continue to improve the lives of the Rwandan people,” says Steve.
“During our trip, we saw first-hand how powerful the gift of sponsorship is. To be able to see the child you sponsor grow and thrive under your assistance is a blessing. As Pastor Charles says “you can’t change the world, but you can change the world for one,” Steve adds.