Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for March, 2011

The Pressure Cooker

Excerpt from biography Paging Doctor Leff: Pride, Patriotism and Protest.

When Captain Leff arrived at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base in the summer of 1969, one may have thought the greatest threat to servicemen on the base was Venereal Diseases (VD), not the Viet Cong or Pathet Lao.

The dispensary had recently been upgraded to a hospital, and the brass was asking for volunteers in different areas. Arnie volunteered to be the venereal disease control officer. He had some experience with it in medical school and figured he “might as well become an expert in something, since I was going to be there for a year anyway.”

“Servicemen came to our VD program for a number of reasons,” Dr. Leff confides. “One was that I convinced them at orientation that they should see us and not get treated on the Thai open market with medications that were no good. Another reason was that I made a promise that they would not be punished for coming to see the medics with a case of VD. I made that promise based on the U. S. Air Force regulations that were very clear.”

They had an open program that encouraged men to use their services, that there would be no punitive actions, and that they would take care of them. It was free, and it was good medicine.

Because of these assurances and the fact that Dr. Leff kept accurate statistics, by December of 1969, Udorn had the highest number of recorded cases of venereal disease of any base in Southeast Asia. Some would say that was excellent news, to know that it was being reported and treated, but the hospital base commander, Col. Paul Stagg, USAF, MC, thought otherwise.

“The colonel called me into his office and said, ‘The General says we have too many cases of venereal disease this year,’ which makes him look bad. ‘I want you to change the statistics and wipe out the last few weeks of cases so it looks like we have less than we do.’

Dr. Leff replied, “But Sir, if I change these numbers, what if everybody changed numbers? What if body counts were wrong?” Stagg’s response was, “That’s the system.”

“Suddenly, like a flash of light,” Dr. Leff recalls, “the switch went on in my head. It was the first time anyone had said it so bluntly, right to my face. The extent of the lying surrounding the war inundated every sector and every branch.”

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Someone to Blame

Someone to Blame by C. S. Lakin (Zondervan Publishing, 2010) Review by Gabriel Constans.

How do you survive and find meaning, when the worst that can happen has happened? What do you do with the memories, visions, pain and suffering that follow you wherever you go, regardless of how many miles you’ve put between the tragedies and your self?

Those are the questions and circumstances facing the Moore family. Mother Irene, her husband Matt and their daughter Casey, make their way to a seemingly sleepy small town on the coast of Northern California called Breakers. The wonderful opening line sums up their feelings. “Irene once heard that if you fell off a cliff in your dream, you would always wake before smacking the ground. If only real life were that merciful.”

What has driven them so far from home and built walls of false protection between them is the loss of their 2 sons (Casey’s brothers Jesse and Daniel). What happened, how and perhaps why, are revealed as the story progresses. Each member of the family carries the burden differently and rarely allows them self to share their fears, grief and sadness with one another, out of self-protection and thinking they are protecting one another. Into the mix comes Billy Thurber, a damaged young man who comes to town and is immediately judged and quartered most everyone in the community for various incidents that occur.

Sheriff Joe Huff, pastor Luis Munez, Irene Moore and her daughter Casey, are the only people who give Billy a shadow of a doubt and perceive the possibility of his innocence. Whether he is innocent or guilty and of which crimes, is cleverly written by Ms. Lakin and leaves one in a constant state of anticipation to see what awaits the reader around the next corner. At one point Irene thinks, “Suddenly, it became clear – that every little action had immeasurable potency, creating a hundred repercussions that could set off any number of events.” Out of fear and helplessness, many members of the community begin to act out and become the very people they are afraid of.

Brief quotes from the Bible are interspersed throughout the novel in thoughts and conversations, as various characters (most notably Irene and Pastor Munez) try to come to terms with events that are spinning out of control, as well as losses which have already occurred. Though Someone to Blame clearly has a Christian bent, it is always within the stories context and never insists that readers’ have the same beliefs. The only questions that may arise in this regard are lines such as, “And sometimes you had to use violence to protect yourself and those you loved. Only society determined which violence was acceptable and which wasn’t.” This reasoning flies completely in the face of Jesus of Nazareth’s words and life of love and non-violent resistance, which some Christians seem to turn a blind eye to when they are justifying the use of violence. It also takes away any responsibility for individual choice and behavior, when it says, “Only society determined which violence…”

Other than the time that Billy says to Irene (while speaking about a broken sand dollar) that, “I’m broken – like this. Stop trying to fix me,” the people and dialogue that inhabit Someone to Blame are well rounded, complex and keenly written. The author’s understanding of the human condition and how we often react to suffering, are insightful and realistic. One of the many moving sentences in the story was, “She (Irene) drew Casey into her arms and released that love, swelling and overflowing, a torrent of need. Her daughter fell into those arms, like falling from a burning building into a safety net.”

Whether you believe in God or not, this inspirational novel is a good temporary salve for one’s daily experience and a beneficial exploration of what can cause our emotional pain to heal and/or fester.

The Mindfulness Revolution

This is an excerpt of a review I wrote for The New York Journal of Books.

The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life. Edited by Barry Boyce (Shambhala Publications, March 8, 2011).

The revolution to which this book refers is the widespread use and acceptance of mindfulness and how it has been applied throughout society. “Mindfulness” in this context refers to mindfulness meditation practice. And one of the wonderful aspects of The Mindfulness Revolution is that the essays address opportunities for mindfulness in everyday actions, such as shopping and online activities.

One of the contributors to this collection, Jan Chozen Bays, provides a simple, yet eloquent description of mindfulness: “Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself—in your body, heart and mind—and outside yourself in your environment.” It involves the awareness of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviors without judgment or criticism. Further insight can also include investigating who or what it is that is aware of our experience when being mindful.

Historically, the most prominent practitioner of mindfulness was Siddhartha Gotama, who became known as The Buddha. His meditation practice and teachings spread around the world and have been used for over 2,500 years. Similar methods of contemplation, prayer, and concentration are also present in every major religious tradition.

In the West, one of the first pioneers in establishing mindfulness as a secular discipline was Jon Kabat-Zinn, who begin sharing it with his patients to help them manage various health issues and concerns. He called it Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This compilation looks at how mindfulness and MBSR has since been applied and the many forms and avenues it has taken.

The book is divided into four complementary sections by editor Barry Boyce and provides a comprehensive overview and specifics, with examples, instructions, research, and lessons.

Part I is titled How to Practice Mindfulness. Part II is called Mindfulness in Daily Life. The third section is Mindfulness, Health and Healing. The fourth area is Interpersonal Mindfulness. The excerpts for each section are provided by experienced and well-known practitioners that include Jan Chozen Bays, Jack Kornfield, Bob Stahl, Chogyam Trungpa, Norman Fischer, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nat Hanh, Sue Moon, Elisha Goldstein, Daniel Siegel, Steve Flowers, Peman Chodron, Susan Chapman and The Fourteenth Dalai Lama. There is also an excellent resource section and contributor bios at the end of the collection.

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Grandson Jupiter

He’s almost 2 years old, has beautiful blond curly hair, is very smart, strong and huggable and has more energy and spunk than a supersonic jet on speed!

That is not Superman, but our grandson Jupiter. You could say I’m biased and of course, that would be completely mistaken. I am more than biased, I’m prejudiced and will fly hundreds of miles to hang out with this amazing bundle of energy and cuteness manifested in human form.

His parents have combined their DNA, experience and compassion and love to give this little tyke a dream home that his wee friends can only droo.l over and watch with envy. It isn’t that their parental units or unit is inferior or not good in many ways, but Jupiter’s Mama and Papa are really stepping up to the proverbial plate of parenthood and surrounding their son with limits, support, encouragement and love.

Let’s see, how many other thousands of words can I use to gush on about Jupiter Gabriel Constans. Oh yes, he has the coolest middle name in the world and calls me Gapa. I’ve got to stop writing right now and go peek in on this sleeping beauty who looks like a cherub in human clothing.

Is Obama to Blame?

Is Obama to blame or praise, as perhaps being the catalyst to many of the changes taking place across Africa and the Middle East with millions of people saying “Enough!” and wanting real change and democracy?

It was just 2 years ago that Barack Obama did what many said was impossible and became the president of the United States. He stood (and still stands) for possibility and putting hope into action. He was one of the first U.S. presidents to go to Africa and speak before thousands in Egypt and other countries about democracy, human rights and fair elections. I wonder if his energy and deep intentions may have been the tipping point that, conscious or not, lit some hearts and minds in people across the world who were dying for change for decades?

Yes, there are many other factors that have influenced and are driving Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyan’s Jordanian’s, Lebanese and others and there movements are each coming organically from their own experience, situation and need. Yes, the U.S. has often propped up, supported and turned a blind eye to dictators and governments that we felt were useful for some other purpose (or perceived advantage). And… I believe there are great changes afoot throughout the world and great opportunity to actually practice what we preach.

President Obama has not acted in a vacuum, but perhaps his message of having the audacity to hope has reached farther and deeper than we either give him credit for or realize.

A Good Book – Part 2

Excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

A GOOD BOOK – PART 2 (Conclusion)

As they drove home Ruthie went on and on about Alice’s novel, almost repeating her every word. Sy paid particularly close attention to his driving until Ruthie stopped her monologue long enough to ask, “What did you think? Did you like it?”

Sy cleared his throat and carefully replied, “She sure has a way with words.”

“But did you like it?” Ruthie reiterated. “Did her words touch you?”

“Oh, it touched me alright,” he said to himself, recalling an argument that he and Alice had once had that sounded remarkably close to her characters. “It was good,” he replied. “A little unrealistic, but good.”

“Unrealistic?” Ruthie questioned, sounding more surprised than she’d intended. “How so?”

“I don’t know,” he mumbled, wishing he’d left well enough alone. “Do you think men are that uncaring and unconscious?”

“Yes, most.” She rubbed his shoulder gently. “But not all.”

They gazed into the fog that had descended on the blacktop.

“Have I ever treated you like that?” He asked, almost imperceptibly.

“Like the guys in her story?”

Sy nodded, ever so slightly.

Ruthie looked out the side window at the fence posts appearing and disappearing in the thick soup along the edge of the highway. She didn’t reply until they rolled into their driveway and Sy turned off the key.

“Actually,” she said softly. “Yes. You have.”

Sy felt a chill up his spine as he got out and opened the door for Ruthie. “Not me,” he told himself. “That was the old Sy.”

They walked to the house. He held open the screen as she unlocked the front door and entered. Sy took their coats and hung them on the antique maple coat rack while Ruthie turned up the thermostat. “I’ll make us some tea,” she said and went into the kitchen.

Sy followed, sat down at the kitchen table he’d hand made from pine wood not long after they’d married and watched her move in her familiar surroundings. How many times had he’d seen her at that old gas stove, cooking something up for him or the kids; a thousand, ten thousand?

As she placed their large mugs of decaffeinated Earl Gray on the table, sat down and leaned back on the fading daisy print wallpaper, he asked, “When?”

“When what?” she smiled.

“When have I acted like the men in that woman’s book?”

“Only about every day for the last thirty-four years,” she said.

“Are you serious?” he gasped.

“No,” she said. You’re not as blatant or consistent, but you have your moments.”

She sipped her tea and watched him through the steam.

“For example?” he queried.

Ruthie looked at his lined face and sunken blue eyes, trying to surmise how much and how willing he was to hear. Disregarding her past experiences and the hundreds of times she’d brought the issue to his attention, she decided to grab her red cape of hope and enter the bullring.

“Remember last Friday, after I’d been tutoring English to that cranky old German woman half the day and then worked at the church office all afternoon?”

“Yes.”

“Remember that night?”

“What about it?” he asked, trying to gauge the forthcoming charge.

“Remember when we went to bed and I almost fell asleep before my head hit the pillow?”

“So?” He didn’t see any connection.

“Remember how you snuggled up behind me and were all hot and horny and I said, ‘Not tonight, just hold me?’”

Sy put down his cup, which made a louder thud on the table than he’d expected. “Yes and I totally understood and said so, remember?” His mouth was taut and his breath shallow.

Ruthie smiled. “Yes, you said as much, but I could feel otherwise.”

“How could you feel anything?!” he declared; his shoulders erect. “I went to the living room and read.”

Ruthie went to the stove and returned with more hot water. She filled his cup, then her own and sat back down. “It didn’t feel like you understood the next morning when you barely touched me and only replied in monosyllables. It felt like you had closed down shop and checked out.”

“What’s wrong with wanting a little love from the person who says she always loves me?” Sy declared, his face curling like sour milk.

“But I DO love you.” Ruthie leaned forward and placed her hand on Sy’s callused knuckles. “Why do I have to prove it with sex?”

“You don’t have to prove anything!” Sy exclaimed, sliding his hand away and tightly grasping his cup. “I know you love me, but what’s wrong with wanting to share a little sugar to show it?”

Ruthie sat back and stared at her now empty palm. “Nothing, if it’s at a time when I have the energy and my body is willing and able.”

“Well,” he snarled. “There you go.”

“Did you hear me?” She looked intently at the spot on his forehead where his wrinkles assembled to worry.

“Loud and clear.” Sy went to the sink without looking back. He rinsed out his cup, put it in the dishwasher and turned around. “I’ve heard it a thousand times. You love me, but you don’t want to make love with me.”

“Stop it!” Ruthie stood abruptly. “Just stop it!” She took two rapid steps, faced Sy eye to eye and said, “Are you implying that we never have sex, that I never kiss you, give you pleasure or want you inside of me!?”

Sy tried to move, but Ruthie put her arms on either side of his and pressed herself firmly against his pelvis. “No, you aren’t saying that, because you know that would be a lie.”

“But . . .”

“But, it’s never enough, is it?”

Sy hesitated. “Well . . .”

Ruthie shook her head side to side, her cape of hope torn to shreds. Her eyes watered. She tried to turn away from her predictable hard-headed husband, but Sy firmly and gently, grabbed her wrist and stopped her.

“Don’t you see,” Ruthie cried, “how that makes me feel? No matter what I do, it’s not enough. I am never enough.” She let herself be pulled closer. “Why can’t you just love me as I am?”

Sy took her arms and put them over his shoulders then encircled her waist with his own. “I do,” he said.

“It doesn’t feel like that when I don’t perform on demand or the way you want.”

“I’m sorry,” Sy said softly. He wiped the tears from under her eyes.

“I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known,” Ruthie cried, “but feeling forced to have sex, to not alienate you, isn’t love, it’s fear, just like Hooks says. That kind of love feels coerced, manipulated; manufactured to fit some imaginary image of how you think I’m supposed to be.”

Sy felt a lump rising in his throat, as his hold on Ruthie tightened. Her words seeped through his weathered walls. Something cracked open.

“Why now?” he wondered. “After all these years. Was it something Ruthie said or how she said it? Was it Alice Hawkins or Hooks, whatever she went by these days?” Whatever it was, his comfortable delusion of being different from other men was crumbling under the weight of a searing reality.

Ruthie felt the shift. She could feel his skin of fear peeling away. She could see him turning, painfully turning away from conditioning, expectation and judgment. She had never felt so completely and openly accepted by this man. His love was palpable. He saw her. He really saw her.

“I’ve always loved you,” she whispered.

“I know,” he cried. “I’ve kept you away for so long.”

She wiped his face and her own, then looked at her wet hands. “We should boil these tears instead of water for tea,” she grinned.

Sy felt like an anvil had been lifted from his chest. He could breathe freely. He sighed deeply. Each breath released another encrusted layer of tension, doubt and the fear of rejection.

***

When they went to bed that night they looked like they were teenagers who had just fallen in love for the first time. Their eyes were full of anticipation and unlike most teens, knew who they were and where they had been. Their lovemaking was slow, passionate, peaceful and fulfilling. Their history held them and freed them.

After turning out the light, Sy snuggled up to Ruthie’s behind and put his arm around her soft belly.

“You know that Ms. Hooks?”

“Yeah,” Ruthie said, on the verge of dozing off.

“I knew her back in college.”

“Really,” she sleepily replied.

“I mean I really knew her, like intimately.”

Ruthie raised Sy’s arm off her belly and turned to face him.

“Really.”

“Really,” he said, his hot breath caressing her cheek.

“Tell me,” she said, her eyes wide open in the dark. “Tell me all about it.”

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A Good Book

Excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

A GOOD BOOK – PART 1

“Hurry up Sy! We’ll be late, Ruthie hollered from the hallway, as she threw on her wool coat.

The last time they arrived late at a book signing at Sophie’s Choice, to hear Isabel Allende read from her latest release, they’d ended up by the front door with biting cold wind attacking the back of their necks every time someone entered or left the building. Sophie’s was there favorite literary hangout among the plethora of bookstores in their academically diverse college town. It was named after the owner, Sophie Thompson, who had taken her sister’s advice and appropriated the familiar title.

“Sy!” she yelled again, just as he turned the corner from the upstairs bedroom and descended the aging wooden stairs, which squeaked like asthmatic mice with every step.

“I’m coming. I’m coming,” he grinned, still tucking in his shirt. “You’d rather I go naked?!”

Ruthie’s lips parted slightly as she watched her husband of thirty-four years. He walked with a slight limp from his hip surgery the previous summer.

“Damn,” she thought. He looks good.”

She waited until he reached the last step, stood on her toes and shared her thoughts by planting a kiss on his familiar weathered lips and giving him a squeeze around his hips. When their mouths parted he kissed her slightly rouged cheeks and put his large fingers through her shoulder-length wavy gray hair.

As he snapped his tan parka, he asked, “Who is this we’re seeing again?”

“Alice Hooks.”

“Hooks?” he rolled questionably across his tongue, while holding the screen door open for Ruthie to lock the door. She put her arm in his as they walked towards there eighties Plymouth. “Isn’t she that environmental fiction writer you like so much?”

“No,” Ruthie said, waiting for him to unlock the car door. “You’re thinking of Barbara Kingsolver.”

Sy opened her door.

“Thanks Hon,” she said, as she sat on the old torn leather seat.

Sy went around the front, climbed in, patted the dashboard for good luck and turned the ignition.

“Still purrs like a kitten,” he said sweetly for the ten-thousandth time.

They drove out of the gravel driveway, down Chestnut Street, towards town on the straight and narrow two-lane road they had driven their kids and step-kids to school and themselves to and from work for thirty years. This was Sy’s second marriage. He had two children from his previous marriage and he and Ruthie had purposefully created one of their own.

The next in kin had all flown the coup long ago and kept in touch with their “old folks” with fluctuating degrees of attention, based on their needs and/or personality. The one constant connection with their offspring was their children’s children. They had three of these grandchildren, two by birth and one adopted, to whom they were severely devoted and unashamedly tethered.

“Alice Hooks is a writer of romantic feminist fiction,” Ruthie explained. “The book she’s reading from tonight is Close Encounters. It was nominated for The National Book Award last year.”

“Sort of like Gloria Steinem falling in love with Steven Spielberg?”

“I knew you’d say something like that,” Ruthie sighed. “I just knew it.”

“Well,” Sy replied, still grinning at his own joke, “I had to say it then didn’t I? I don’t want to destroy your expectations or diminish your superior powers of Elementary Spiritual Perceptions.”

Ruthie gently slapped his leg with the back of her hand.

“Far from it,” she smiled. “Close Encounters is about a woman called Maya. She’s an anthropologist and professor, who circumnavigates the globe on research expeditions. While studying antiquities and cultures she also searches for a man who is willing to practice feminism in bed, as well as at work. Every time she thinks she’s found her mate, he starts to subtly or blatantly manipulate her and splits when he doesn’t get what he thinks he wants.” Ruthie sighed noticeably.

Sy’s smile had vanished. He gazed straight ahead, as if he was a student driver concentrating on not making a mistake. As they reached the city limits he said, “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Does she ever find the man of her dreams?”

Ruthie’s left hand rested gently on Sy’s thigh. She could feel his hamstrings tighten with each step on the gas peddle. “I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t finished it yet.” She smiled and squeezed Sy’s leg. “But I’ve found mine.”

Sy was flooded with relief by Ruthie’s re-assuring words. He had always helped raise the kids, cleaned and cooked at home and believed that women and men should be respected for their character not their gender. He was beginning to look forward to hearing this Hook’s lady.

The parking lot at Sophie’s Choice was full.

“I knew it,” Ruthie admonished. “Will have to park on the street.”

Sy found a spot a block away. They walked briskly to the entrance and to their surprise, saw two empty chairs in the far back. They made their way to the metal folding chairs, used their coats as cushions to sit on and caught their breath. Sy took in the crowd and noticed that only two other men were in attendance, re-confirming his enlightened attitude.

Their timing was impeccable. Just as they had taken their seats the introductions were completed and the author, to much applause and a few jubilant trills of sisterly welcome, stepped up to the podium.

Sy was mortified. Not only did Alice Hooks not look like the radical feminist he had envisioned, but she was not Alice Hooks. The woman he saw standing before the crowd, waiting respectfully for the applause to subside, was Alice Hawkins, the woman he’d been in love with in college.

“I can’t believe this,” he proclaimed, while his eyes remained riveted to the wet lips and long neck he had once kissed so passionately.

“She must have changed her name,” he whispered to Ruthie. “I knew her when she was Alice Hawkins.”

“Shhhh,” she replied.

Sy was eternally grateful that they were late and ended up in the back row. “I wonder if she would still recognize me?”He pondered. “I doubt it,” he answered himself. “I was nothing to her.”

As Alice began reading from her book Sy couldn’t push aside the gut feeling that her personal life and thus his own, was being laid bare for public consumption. He was undoubtedly one of the men she had based her story on.

“He raised his sweaty head from the pillow,” Alice read, “and practically spit in Refina’s face.” Alice glanced at the audience over the top of her designer glasses, then returned to the words on the page. “’You aren’t worth it,” he said coldly and turned away. You don’t understand.’

‘Understand what?’ she pleaded.

‘Me. You’ll never understand me.’

Rafina replied, ‘I understand you all to well.’

‘See!’ he yelled, with a trembling voice, as he got out from under the rumpled bedsheets and put on his bathrobe. ‘You’ve never liked me!’ He pouted, retreating to the bathroom. She slipped on her nightshirt and followed.

‘There’s no pleasing you,’ she said, standing in the doorway as he pissed away his anger. ‘Whatever I do isn’t enough. You always want me to be different.’

He shook off the last drops, tied his bathrobe and walked past her as if she were part of the door frame.

‘Lies,’ he whispered. ‘All lies.’ She watched him zip up his pants. ‘How often have I told you I love you?!’ he said accusingly.

‘Yeah,’ she agreed. ‘How often and when?’ He stopped tucking in his shirt and stared blankly. ‘Whenever I get physical, is when,’ she stated. ‘When I act like your sexual puppet, is when. Whenever I do things I don’t really want to do out of fear I’ll lose you. And you know what?’ He put on his watch and started towards the door. ‘I’m going to lose you anyway.’ She wiped her fingers on her nightshirt, as if she was trying to rub out the memory of his touch. ‘I don’t need that kind of love.’

‘See ya Refina,’ he said, turning. ‘I hope you enjoy being alone. You’re so damn controlling and manipulating nobody could ever put up with you.’

‘Don’t project your crap on me!’ she shouted, as the door careened open and he disappeared down the hall of the old city hotel.

Refina stared through the door at the empty hallway and concluded, ‘I’d rather screw myself then let that fool think he’s loving me.’”

***

After the reading Ruthie wanted to get her book autographed, but Sy lied and said, “It’s late honey. I’m a little tired.”

She looked at the long line and the clock, hesitated, then reluctantly agreed.

Sy deftly guided them towards the door, along the far side of the exuberant crowd that had cheered Ms. Hooks with a robust standing ovation.

CONTINUED TOMORROW

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Back to School Rwanda

Excerpt from Amakuru! News from the Rwandan Orphans Project. Written by Sean Jones and Jenny Clover.

Back To School

Notebooks and pencils in hand, the children of the Rwandan Orphans Project began the 2011 school year in various schools around Rwanda.

Most of the children – those in primary school and attending the ROP’s education catch-up program, stay in the Center where our five teachers give their lessons in kinyarwanda and English. This year the ROP is also providing education for about 25 secondary school students, most of whom attend a nearby school while a handful of others attend various academies around Rwanda.

The 2010 school year was a large success for the ROP. Many of our secondary school students passed their National Exams with the honor of Distinction and High Distinction, making them eligible for government scholarships and entrance into well respected schools. Our catch-up program had the honor of having the only students in the Nyarugunga Sector who reached High Distinction in the Primary 6 National Exams. This achievement is due in no small part to the amazing work of our teachers, who not only have the laborious task of teaching dozens of students but also play the roles of mentor, parent and disciplinarian to our ex-street children. The wonderful results attained by of all of our students is a testimony to their recognition that education is their way to break free from the cycle of poverty and have a successful future for themselves.

Aside from academics, the ROP is also sponsoring vocational training for ten young adults from the Center. These are teenagers who fell too far behind in their education and have struggled academically. But they refuse to give up and are working hard in these programs so they can learn trades and skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Some of them are learning mechanics, others hotel management, and yet others have gone into carpentry and even forestry. These vocational programs, along with our support for those still in school, allow the ROP to follow through on the promise that we make to all of our children to support their education as long as they are willing to work hard themselves all the way to the end. We are not only raising children, but future citizens and potential leaders of Rwanda.

Donations can be made to the:
Rwandan Orphans Project
4671 Cass Street
San Diego, CA 92109
or online at Rwandan Orphans Project.

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