Here, There and Everywhere

Greetings from Rwanda!

We hope you are having a great summer! There’s been a lot going on around the Rwandan Orphans Project’s Imizi Children’s Center, so we wanted to tell you what we’ve been up to since our last update.

The biggest and best news is the fact that we have been able to fully pay off our new land. That’s right, back in May we were able to make the final payment on our new home, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the paperwork that will secure the property, and our future, for many years to come. 

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When the ROP started out in an abandoned industrial warehouse the idea of having our own permanent home was nothing more than a dream. In 2010 we were able to move to a better location, but there we had to pay rent, which was a significant burden on our budget each and every year. Today we have finally realized our goal of securing a permanent facility for our children’s program, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Another great achievement happened just last Friday when one of our graduates, Jean, graduated from the National University of Rwanda having earned himself a bachelor’s degree. Even more impressive was the fact that he graduated FIRST IN HIS ENTIRE CLASS! That is no small feat at all, especially considering he graduated with nearly 2,000 other students.

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Jean is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide, the tragedy that saw approximately 800,000 Rwandans killed, including his own parents and siblings. He is the sole survivor of his family, and the physical and mental scars were never easy for him to overcome. After losing his family he ended up surviving on his own on the streets of Kigali until, at age 12, he found the ROP. No student worked harder in the classroom and when Jean wasn’t in class, washing his clothes or doing other chores his nose would be buried in any book he could get his hands on. The results of his commitment to aspire to a better life combined with the opportunities ROP was able to give him are now celebrated by us all.

When speaking to our boys at his party he told them, “I attended classes with rich kids and kids who had ‘normal’ families. Many of them doubted me and discouraged me because, in their eyes, having been a street boy, I could never hope to achieve anything. First I proved them wrong by being elected class president in my second year. Many still doubted me, so I showed them by becoming the best student in the entire school. Now they can’t doubt me. Never let anyone doubt you because of where you came from. The only one who can stop you doing great things is yourself”.

Please support the Rwandan Orphans Project’s Imizi Children’s Center.

 

imgresTerror is terror. It is often cloaked in religion, dogma, or nationalism, but at its root it is simply terrorism. There have been terrorists who identified with, or been labeled as, Muslims, Christians, Hindu’s, Jews, and Buddhists. Nobody however is a “Muslim terrorist” or a “Christian terrorist”. None of the major religions, nor the majority of their followers, advocate or condone the taking of innocent and/or civilian lives. People that cloak their feelings of inadequacy and/or desire for power and control, in the name of religion, do not represent that religion. Using religion as a guise to cover up, and justify one’s violent actions towards another, is a con, a rouse, a blasphemy against the religious tenets they claim to follow.

Terrorist’s use violence and terror for a number of reasons. The primary purpose is to spread fear and cause a reaction. People who become terrorists usually do so because of a lack of power, no self-worth, wanting a sense of control, and/or wishing to belong to something, regardless of how hateful or absurd the group is with which they identify. Understanding why someone becomes a terrorist is irrelevant, when trying to stop someone from committing an act of terror in the present tense, but understanding why can be useful to dissuade, and prevent people choosing such a path, in the future.

There are also those who cause suffering because of their own suffering, and wish to externalize that pain on to others, that do not use religion as a scapegoat or justification. These individual’s have experienced pain and loss, and do not know how to live with such grief, and/or experience times of uncontrolled mania, delusion and/or disassociation. These acts are difficult to foresee, but can often be minimized, or removed, with good mental health treatment and support.

Acts of terrorism by nation states, in the name of defense, retribution, and/or security, are also acts of violence and terror, as is rape and abuse, but in this instance I am specking about individuals who act alone towards a group of people, and those who report on their acts. Stop adding religious classification’s to acts of terrorism, and simply call them for what, and who, they are – an act of terror perpetrated by a terrorist. Terror is terror – period.

My words about terrorism, and terrorists, do not derive from any particular religious, political, or personal slant, but are a result of over 40 years of observations, and supporting hundreds of individuals and families who have lost a loved one to violence, murder and/or genocide; and speaking with many people who have committed murder and/or genocide.

Imizi Children’s Center

Hello from Rwanda. We’ve had a great few months at the ROP, and we wanted to share some of our latest news with you. First off, a truly wonderful development – eight of our secondary school graduates performed so well on their national exams that they have been awarded government scholarships to university, bringing the total number of ROP grads who have earned government scholarships in the last five years to thirteen! As you can imagine, all of us at the ROP are extremely proud of their achievement. Our students are making the most of their opportunities, and we are extremely grateful to you for supporting their journey from the streets to higher education. Thank you!

We are also happy to let you know that we are now well settled into our new location in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. We still have much to do to fix up our new home, but we’ve made great strides already. In February, we built a new set of toilets. More recently, with the support of Norwegian charity Metamorfose, we constructed a brand new, open-air kitchen with eco-friendly stoves that reduce our use of firewood and create significantly less pollution than traditional wood-burning stoves.           

Our new kitchen and toilet facilities.

Thanks to a generous grant from the KLM charity Wings of Support, we are also making significant renovations to the children’s dormitory that will provide them with more light, ventilation and comfort than they ever had before.

Renovations are 80% complete

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Back in February, we opened our primary school to serve the ROP children and our new community in Rwamagana. In addition to our 70 boys, we have also admitted 70 girls and 50 boys from our local community’s poorest families. This is more students than we have ever had before, and it’s possible thanks to the much larger and improved school facilities we now have. We are also proud to have already developed a good reputation amongst our local community and the local government. Having moved from the city of Kigali to a much more rural area, we quickly realized that our new pupils haven’t had the exposure to lessons on important topics like gender equality that the ROP children have. This gives us the opportunity to educate these children on such things so ROP can have an even broader impact on our community.

ROP boys teaching the outside students to include the girls in sports and activities

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All of these achievements are possible thanks to our wonderful supporters – people like you – who generously give throughout the year to help the Rwandan Orphans Project continue our mission of not only caring for former street children, but doing our part to help Rwanda’s vulnerable people in any way we can. From all of us at the ROP, we would like to once again say THANK YOU for your support!

From its creation, our center has been called the Rwandan Orphans Project, Center for Street Children. However, the Rwandan government recently informed all organizations that the words “orphan” and “project” were no longer allowed to be used in titles and instructed all organizations using such words to change their names. We asked the children to choose a new name for their center and after some discussion they came up with the name Imizi Children’s Center. Imizi is a Kinyarwanda word meaning “roots of a tree”, and the children felt like the name was representative of the center’s role in helping them grow. The children also said they sometimes felt embarrassed telling people that they lived at an “Orphans Project” and preferred the term “Children’s Center”. The staff enthusiastically accepted their choice, so that is now the name of our new home here in Rwanda. Don’t worry, the organization you are supporting is still called the Rwandan Orphans Project, both in the US and the UK. Rather, it is just the name of the center in Rwanda that has changed, and we now say that the ROP is supporting the children of the Imizi Children’s Center. 

Our new Imizi sign

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We are gearing up for our annual fundraiser in San Diego, which will take place at the beautiful Museum of Photographic Arts on May 13th. It promises to be a great night and we hope to see many of you there. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit www.rwandanorphansproject.org.

We are also pleased to announce we will be holding our first ROP UK event this June. More details to follow; please email Jenny at jclover@rwandanorphansproject.org for more information. 

Thanks again for everything you do for ROP,

 Sean Jones

Executive Director

Kigali, Rwanda

 

 

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Welcome to Sortilege Falls by Libby Heily

Coming soon at Fire and Ice YA Publishing

Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn’t right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape’s life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.

Grape’s life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy’s friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models’ parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.

Available at Fire and Ice YA Publishing and Amazon.

Connect with Libby at: Good Reads Instagram Twitter Facebook

Review of Tell Me a Secret

TEll-Me-a-Secret-by-Ann-Everett>Review of Tell Me a Secret by Ann Everett. Narrated by Sarah Pavelec.

He spun the chair around and straddled it like he was doing it a favor.”

That is the effect Jace Sloan has on women at college, and is one of the many wonderful metaphors used throughout this love story. His charm works on everyone accept Maggie, who is in graduate school and works as a nurse and tutor. Jace and Maggie’s personalities are like oil and water, but they must find a way to work together when she is assigned by her professor to be his tutor for anatomy.

Just when you think this story is following the usual boy meets girl, girl losses boy, and then they get together again, plot line, there is a twist. Actually, there are a number of twists that will keep reader’s wondering about the character’s futures. The dialogue shifts from chapter to chapter, between Maggie’s perspective and Jace’s, providing an intimate microscope into their internal thoughts, emotions and perceptions. Author Ann Everett did a good job keeping the dialogue and situations real, as well as the couple’s reactions.

As an avid reader, and past reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, I must confess that this is the first audio book I’ve listened to and reviewed. Though it was quite long, the narrator’s voice, Sarah Pavelec, was pleasant and engaging. Her tone for both the male and female characters was spot on, as well as the intonations for specific dialogue and action.

Tell Me a Secret is a good book to take on a long trip, or listen to for a period of time each day. It is a sweet romance that shows opposites can not only be attracted to one another when the pheromones are intense, but may also stay together through misunderstandings, tragedy and jealousy.

Gabriel Constans Interview on writing and Loving Annalise.
Interviews by Dante 10 November 2015

Guest author for today on Interviews by Dante is Gabriel Constans. He is an author of Contemporary Erotic Romance. His latest is Loving Annalise.

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Please tell us a little about yourself.

Raised in a lumber town in Northern California, where father worked in the mills for over 40 years. Mother worked as a bookkeeper, later remarried and took in 9 foster sisters and 1 foster brother. Biological sister lives and works in same town.

Been writing since first publishing an alternative newspaper in high school against the Viet Nam war, for civil rights and sex education, for which I was threatened with arrest. Am practicing parent for 5 adult children (2 adopted) and 4 grandchildren.

Tell us about your latest book.

Loving Annalise is based on a true story for a woman I used to work with at hospice. She was kind enough to sit down with me for extensive periods of time and tell me about her life, which I then made into a fictional romance (keeping many of the actual events that took place).

What do you have coming out in the future?

I’ve been teaching about mindfulness meditation and mental health for loss and trauma for almost 40 years, and will start to put together a book about it next year.

Is your book a stand-alone or a series?

Loving Annalise is a stand-alone romance.

Why romance and what makes your particular brand of romance special?

Love and sex are two wonderfully pleasurable aspects of living. Loving Annalise is not only unique, because a lot of it is true, but also because it involves a lot of background and insight into the characters and how Annalise eventually has the courage to stand on her own and be the person she chooses.

Is romance the only genre that you write in or do you write in other genres? If so what other genres do you write in?

All of my romances, Loving Annalise, The Last Conception and Buddha’s Wife, have twists and turns that are not usually found in most romantic genres. I also write children’s fiction and non-fiction for adults, that include books about grief, loss and trauma, sexuality and smoothies. I also write screenplays.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

The primary inspiration for my stories come from personal and family experiences and people I admire, some publicly known and other’s close friends and role models (such as my Judo and Jiu-Jitsu teacher Prof. Jane Carr).

Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?

All the time. Observing people I’ve known in the past and present, and situations and families I’ve been involved in through work in hospice, hospital, coroner’s office, prisons, etc., are a big part of what brings my character’s to life and makes them realistic, flawed and believable.

What authors inspire your writing?

A variety of writer’s have, and do, inspire me. Bell Hooks, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Isabelle Allende, Ruth Ozeki, Pat Conroy, Chitra Divakaruna, and Zora Neal Hurston are the first that come to mind.

How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?

I’ve been married three times, once when I was very young. Each marriage, and other relationships in-between, have influenced who I am and how I see the world. Each partnership provided emotional, physical and psychological experience that shaped who I am and how I write.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Some of the things I enjoy are film, reading, playing music, gardening and sculpting stone.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Loving Annalise captures both the reality of other people wanting Annalise, as well as her learning to love herself.

Read entire interview and much more at: Interviews by Dante.

Rainbow

This stone had little carving or shaping. I spent most of the time sanding and polishing it, to bring out the beautiful greens, browns, blues and whites. It is Mariposite. It is the largest stone I’ve worked on and was difficult to move into the sun, to have a better view of the colors. Am calling it Rainbow.2015-11-06 14.37.17

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