Meet Alex, the newest member of the ROP (Rwandan Orphan’s Project) team.
Alex Kaberuka’s story mirrors the backgrounds of so many of the boys living at the ROP. Alex was just five years old on April 7th, 1994, the day the Rwandan Genocide began. His father, an employee at the International Red Cross, gave Alex to his friend and coworker, who was from Kenya, and made him promise that he would take his son with him to Kenya and that he would put Alex through school so he could have a future. He then rushed back to his office at the Red Cross to see how he could help other victims. By the end of the day the killers found him and Alex no longer had a father.
Fast forward 12 years and Alex was back in Rwanda, having finished school in Nairobi as his father’s friend had promised. Alex became a professional soccer player in Rwanda (not a very lucrative job) in 2007. In 2010 he met Sean, one of the ROP’s coordinators and before long the two became good friends. In 2010 Sean decided to organize the ROP’s first official sports team, the ROP Eagles football team, but he wanted someone to lead it who would not only be a coach of soccer, but a mentor and a role model for the boys. Alex stepped forward and volunteered for the role.
Alex took a haphazard group of young boys and teenagers and transformed them into two disciplined teams who had learned the importance of leadership, teamwork and hard work and the rewards they offer. The boys took to Alex from the first practice and nearly every day boys were asking, “Where’s Coach?”
When the ROP Playroom was opened Alex was our first choice to be in charge of it. Alex’s patience with the younger boys and his ability to get them to respect rules and even to come to him with their problems were assets we simply couldn’t pass up on. Then, in December, long time caretaker Osea retired from the ROP, leaving us with a gaping hole in our caretaking staff. With barely a second thought Alex was offered the position. All the staff was thrilled with the choice, and when we announced it to the children they erupted in applause.
Since then Alex has continued to deepen his relationships with both staff and children. The ROP Eagles have become a team that are respected in the local sports community and the children continue to look to Alex for advice and solutions for their problems, as if he is their older brother. When asked what his favorite thing is about working at the ROP he says, “I really enjoy working with these people and having an opportunity to improve the lives of these boys”.
A fantastic year for the ROP, but there is still much to achieve.
The year 2011 was quite a year for the ROP (Rwandan Orphan’s Project)! In December three of our six graduates started university at two of Rwanda’s top universities, having won prestigious government scholarships because of their impressive grades. The year also saw the opening of the ROP’s library and playroom, a room full of books, art supplies and toys unlike anything our children or staff has ever seen before. We built a wonderful new kitchen that is both more efficient and more environmentally friendly than our old kitchen. The ROP also added a mental health program to the project, staffed by a psychologist and an experienced social worker. This program adds another facet to the care we already provide our children by ensuring that their mental health is looked after as well as their physical health.
There were many other achievements, but none bigger than the purchase of our own land back in September. This is the first asset that we can truly call our own and it is a major step forward in our journey towards becoming independent and self sustaining in the future.
As great as 2011 was, we all expect 2012 to be even better. We have a newly-opened nursery school that is the ROPs first income generating project. We’re also building new partnerships that we hope will allow us to reach our goal of starting construction of new buildings on our land this year.
But despite all these improvements, we still face real problems. We lack a steady, regular income to meet our monthly costs, which is our biggest struggle,
We are also trying to raise money to begin construction of a new ROP Center on our land. These are lofty goals but we believe that they are achievable. We hope to begin by raising funds to build several greenhouses on our land that would allow us to grow high value crops to generate income for the Center year round. The next phase of the project would be constructing the classrooms, offices and other necessary rooms that would make up the new and larger ROP School. The final phase of the building would be the raising of dormitories, a dining hall, a kitchen and other facilities and upon completion the staff and children of the ROP would make a final transition to our new home. We know we will face great challenges to get there, but we continue to believe that people from here in Rwanda and around the world will see what our program gives to so many orphans and vulnerable children and will be inspired to help us.
Murakoze (Thank You)!
From ROP Stories
ROP Center for Street Children
Cricket Without Boundaries visits ROP
Posted on October 14, 2011 by Sean
Last week the Rwandan Orphans Project received a surprise visit from a group of men from the UK who represent an organization called Cricket Without Boundaries. CWB uses the game of cricket to promote education on HIV/AIDS prevention and other topics to children in developing countries. In their own words:
Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) is a UK based charity dedicated to helping, educating and developing local communities around the World through the spread and growth of cricket. It is also about personal empowerment, both for adults and for children. The Charity uses the sport to help develop personal skills ranging from basic teamwork to self-discipline and leadership.
What was great about the visit is that they never actually intended on coming to the ROP. They were spending some time with a local school when someone told them about our Center and they decided to come pay us a visit. It shows the commitment and interest these men have for vulnerable children that they would squeeze us in their already tight schedule not only for one, but two days.
The first day they came we gave them a quick tour of the ROP Center and then all but three of them had to rush off to another school. All of us went to our playground with the three who stayed behind and soon we had divided the boys into three groups and each group went to learn a specific skill such as catching, batting and running.
Read entire story, with additional photos at: ROP Stories
Excerpt from Amakuru: News from the Rwandan Orphans Project.
The New ROP Library and Playroom
Thanks to a number of recent donations the ROP has been able to open its very own fun room and library. The new room is stocked with toys, games, dressing up clothes, art materials and books, and is decorated with maps, posters and the boys’ own drawings.
Now the boys who live at the ROP, who previously didn’t have much to do with their spare time apart from play football or cards, are able to make use of the fun room each week. They have been divided into five groups and each group gets a least one long session in the room each week.
The ROP was able to open this new room thanks to some very generous donations from visitors, and also from two families who lived in Kigali, who very kindly gave us old toys and books which belonged to their children. Thanks to these kind gifts, the children of the ROP are now able to enjoy playing, learning and reading like children their ages across the world do.
The boys love their new room and we are very grateful to everyone who donated towards it.
Excerpt from Amakuru: News from the Rwandan Orphans Project.
Thanks to a generous donor, the ROP is now able to purchase our own land!
Thanks to two incredibly generous donors from Australia, the ROP will finally be able to buy its very own land!
For the first time in our history, the ROP will own land instead of renting it, thanks to Tony and Carol Roberts. We have identified a plot of land for sale very close to where we are currently based and have started the long process of putting it in the ROP’s name.
It is a large piece of land on a sloping hill, with a road on one side, and a river on the other.
Tony and Carol visited the ROP in July. They were part of a larger group of Australians who were visiting Rwanda to see the gorillas and were interested in the ROP because of our quilting project.
Tony and Carol were moved by the work being done at the ROP and left the Center wanting to help the program. They knew of our dream of someday owning our own land where we could construct a new and improved ROP Center and how our financial difficulties prevented that dream from coming true.
Back in Australia they put together the money needed for buying a tract of land that the ROP has had its eye on for several months. This land is very near the current Center which will make the transition easier and cheaper. We hope through fundraising and joining forces with some other foundations, that we will be able to raise the money for the construction work, and that we will be able to open the brand new ROP centre before too long.
You can help ROP HERE
An Excerpt from ROP Stories by Sean Jones.
I an a Child, Same as the Others
Back in May we held a Celebration for Africa Day of the Child. During the ceremony one of our boys, Lucky, read a poem to the audience. Lucky is one of our boys who has been living at the ROP Center for many years. This is his final year with us as he is graduating from secondary school in December. He is the Center’s most talented performer, having written and performed many poems and songs about the lives of street children, songs that the children and staff request at virtually every celebration we have.
Lucky read his poem in Ikinyarwanda, so I didn’t understand much of it, but the children in the crowd, both ours from the ROP and others in attendance, cheered loudly after he finished reading it, so I knew it must have had meaning to them. A few days later I asked Lucky if he would mind translating it to English for me. He seemed very excited that I had asked and very enthusiastically promised to do it. Due to his school commitments he wasn’t able to sit down and take the time to write it in English until last week. He found me and handed it to me with a great smile on his face. I thanked him for it and asked if I could share it with the world. His reply was, “Of course, it’s for everyone.”
Despite the struggling English the poem hit me straight in the heart. It’s simple and genuine and even in its brevity you can’t help but get an idea of the pain these children must feel, and the hope they somehow find in life once someone, anyone, offers to help them. That’s all I say. I’ll let you make your own judgments.
Read entire story, Lucky’s poem and see more photos at ROP STORIES.