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Posts tagged ‘Rwanda’

Greenhouses At ROP Rwanda

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  • ROP plants the seeds of our future.
    by Sean
    From Amakuru! (Newsletter of the Rwandan Orphan’s Project)

    The ROP is very excited to announce the start of our very own agricultural project! For the last few years we have been looking for ways to make the ROP Center more self-sustaining and less dependent on donors.

    In mid 2012 we were extremely fortunate to win a grant from the French Embassy that would allow us to construct five large greenhouses on the land we bought back in 2011, thanks to a generous donation from Tony and Carol Roberts. Although we had the funding for the greenhouses themselves, we lacked funds for the necessary irrigation system as well for startup costs such as tools, equipment and, most importantly, staff to manage the project. That’s where Line Loen and her wonderful organization Metamorfose AS stepped in. The long time Norwegian partner granted us funding for the irrigation system as well as enough funding to run the project for one year.

    We brought in Jacques Tuyishime to manage the project. Jacques studied agriculture at the National University of Rwanda and has several years of experience working in agriculture and animal husbandry with his family prior to joining the ROP. To assist Jacques in the field we promoted Anastase and Emmanuel as his assistants from their former positions in the Center. Both are ROP graduates from several years ago who were brought back and have made great staff members.

    This new agriculture project will be ROP’s first large scale income generating
    enterprise. In these greenhouses we plan to grow large quantities of vegetables,
    including tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and zucchini, among others, all year round. We will sell our crops to various markets, restaurants and hotel kitchens around Kigali and use the profits to fund the ROP Center for Children.

    Although we’re not sure just how profitable this new venture will be, we are excited to see where our new project will take us.

    Read more and help ROP at the Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

  • From Trauma To Peace

    From Trauma to Peace

    Can we transform TRAUMA and its debilitating states of anger, violence and hate, to PEACE – compassion, forgiveness, hope and love? We can, and it’s beginning to happen in isolated regions of Africa.

    Kamal, a young Rwandan boy, suffered many atrocities. The scenes of his mother dying of AIDS and his uncle being killed in front of him during the 1994 genocide were always before his eyes. A massacre he witnessed in a refugee camp in Uganda added to those terrifying images; images that were always in front of him, like they were happening today. The traumas of the past haunted him. They gripped him in fear and limited his ability to move into a hopeful future.

    Then, a team of therapists brought TFT or tapping (a unique healing modality using the body’s meridian system) to the orphanage. Kamal began tapping, struggling to focus on the horrid past, but within minutes, he jumped up and shouted, “It’s gone! It’s gone!” He danced around the room. He pulled his therapist up and danced with him. He dashed outside and ran around joyfully. He came back in and hugged his therapist. He became free of the past. Kamal can now feel joy, and he can focus on his future.

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    Jean Pierre, a Rwandan man, was forced to watch his wife and children being massacred. He was then attacked himself and left for dead. He bears the wounds from the machete on the back of his head. He heard about the miracle tapping the orphans were doing and came to ask for help. He too had nightmares and flashbacks for over 12 years. One of the therapist team members tapped with him, and he too got over his nightmares and his anger and hatred toward others. But the real telling change was not just relief of his suffering, it was his spiritual transformation. Three days later, he attended a church service at the orphanage where he said he had been given the gift of healing, and he volunteered to take three orphaned children into his home and raise them. He had his life back and was now reaching out with love and forgiveness.

    There are now over 100 Rwandan community leaders using TFT to treat members of their communities, members like Jean Pierre and Kamal. The mission of the TFT Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to spread the use of TFT and its profound benefits throughout the world. Many Rwandan and Ugandan therapists are already trying to help us do that.

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    The TFT Foundation has developed and proven a model that can bring TFT training to any traumatized community, where the leaders can be trained to help their fellow countrymen. In three random controlled studies (two in Rwanda and one in Uganda – one published and two being prepared for publication), the results have been highly significant. Two-year follow-ups have demonstrated that the results not only last, but the symptom reduction improves over time.

    The Foundation has documented the changes and healing of this region in Rwanda, and the beginning of the healing process in Uganda, over the last six years. The completion of the documentary, “From Trauma To Peace,” will enable us to share this model of healing trauma with many more regions of the world. The film will be of the quality needed for PBS and film festivals.

    A mayor in the Northern Province of Rwanda commented: “People who I have never seen smile, are smiling. People who were not productive, are now productive.”

    Please help the TFT Foundation continue sharing and expanding this transformational healing on a global scale. This film will help us create the awareness that entire traumatized communities can help themselves and others end suffering.

    The film and its distribution will serve as a way to raise money to help the Rwandans, Ugandans, and others use TFT to help their countrymen. Your donation will go toward the completion of the filming, editing, promotion, and distribution of this important documentary. Additional funds from the campaign will go directly to the centers actually helping the people, assisting them to become self-sufficient and productive. People CAN break the cycle of violence and feel hope and joy again. Please help us in our efforts to bring peace to our world, one person–and one community–at a time, through TFT.

    See more at Trauma2Peace.

    Christmas In Rwanda

    Dear Family and Friends,

    First of all I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones and that you enjoyed stuffing your faces with all the delicious Turkey Day foods I miss more than I could possibly describe to you.

    I’m writing to you because I want to ask you for your help. All of you know the work that I’m doing here in Rwanda with these orphans and former street children, and although we’re always struggling for funding I try not to take advantage of my relationships with you by asking for donations or making you feel pressured to contribute to our program throughout the year.

    That being said this time I am asking for your help. We really need any and all help we can get to give our 100 boys a Christmas celebration this year. In the past we have been able to get local businesses and donors to sponsor our Christmas celebration, allowing us to provide a special meal and a small paper sack full of simple gifts like a couple pairs of underwear, some pens and notebooks for school, a tennis ball, some sweets and a few other items. As many of you have seen from photos of past Christmas celebrations that this is the boys’ favorite day of the year.

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    However, this year we have struggled to find any partners or sponsors for Christmas. Starting this year the Rwandan government began a program called Agaciro. Publicly billed as voluntary, Agaciro is a nationwide program virtually requiring all businesses and individuals to donate money to the government that they say will be used for the development of the country. Often employees, whether street sweepers or doctors, are told to donate one month’s salary to this fund and businesses and organizations (like ROP) are pressured to also make large payments or face the possibility of being blacklisted and being unable to get services from the government. Basically it’s a unofficial tax in a country that already has a tax rate of 30%.

    So what does this have to do with ROP? Well, because organizations and individuals are having to make these “donations” to the Rwandan government they have no money left to give to the orphanages and other charities like ours who need their support. In November we sent out dozens of letters to local businesses asking for Christmas donations and so far the response has been extremely disappointing. Jenny and I are becoming very concerned that we won’t be able to give our boys a nice Christmas.

    That is why I’ve written you this letter. I know the economy is still shaky and the holiday season stretches everyone a bit thin, but I’m asking that you please consider helping us out this year, even if in a small way. If we can collect enough donations of any size in the next couple of weeks we will have just enough time to organize a Christmas Day dinner for them, buy them some small gifts and put together their little gift bags in time for the big day. If you can donate $10, $20, $50 or even more it will go a long way towards giving these wonderful kids a celebration they deserve. If you would like to help the easiest way is for you to visit our website, www.rwandanorphansproject.com. The method most likely to get the money to us before Christmas is to donate via Paypal, but you can also send us a check to the address listed on the same page. We are looking to raise only about $700 for dinner, a drink and some small gifts. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

    Finally, thank you all for the support you give both to me and our program. So many of you make contributions to ROP and I can’t begin to express how valuable each and every one is to us.

    Happy holidays and merry Christmas to all of you!

    Sean
    ROP Center for Street Children
    Kigali, Rwanda

    Dancing For Joy

    Here’s some joyous dance videos from the children at the Rwandan Orphan’s Project (ROP Center for Street Children). Enjoy the good vibes and times. If you can donate or lend a hand, please do.

    ROP Dance Video 1

    ROP Dance Video 2

    The ROP is an orphanage and a center for street children located just outside of Kigali, Rwanda. We provide housing, clothing, food, health care, education and many other needs to nearly 100 vulnerable children from around Rwanda. We are able to provide these needs solely through the donations of individuals like you. The ROP has no corporate or foundational support and relies on the charity of ordinary citizens to achieve our goal of providing a safe place for children, free from desperation and the dangers of life on the streets.

    At the ROP we believe that education is our children’s best hope of escaping the strong grip of poverty. Because of this all of our children are either enrolled in our in-house catch-up school or go to secondary or vocational schools around Rwanda. We feel all children, regardless of the hardships they may have endured in the past, deserve a chance to make something of themselves.

    Chickens Home to Roost

    From ROP Stories on Twitter

    Cluck cluck cluck. Check out our newest residents! Soon they’ll be popping out eggs to improve the boys’ nutrition. Raising chickens not only supplies protein for the students, but also teaches them how to care for livestock and perhaps even sale some of the eggs for future revenue.

    Please support The Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children
    Kigali, Rwanda

    Swimming In Rwanda

    From ROP Stories

    ROP boys learn to swim!
    2 September 2012 by Jenny Clover

    This summer something amazing happened at the ROP – the boys learned to swim! A Canadian NGO called Koga International contacted us back at the
    beginning of the year, asking if they could fly some qualified
    swimming coaches over to Rwanda, pay for the hire of a swimming pool
    and all transport costs and teach all of our 100 children how to swim.
    Of course, we jumped at the chance. Like most kids, our boys have a
    long six-week holiday every summer and, like most kids, they can get
    bored and restless. But more than that, it’s rare for our boys to get
    an opportunity to learn a valuable new skill, taught by experts, and
    to get out of the ROP centre and spend time together in a new
    environment. So two weeks of swimming classes in a local leisure
    centre which also boasts a trampoline, swings, slides, table football,
    ping-pong and pool, was always going to be a winning idea.

    Koga international had also come up with the idea of teaching some of
    the ROP staff to swim in the few weeks before the kids’ classes began.
    The idea is that now that four ROP staff members have begun to learn
    how to teach swimming, they can continue the ROP’s swimming programme
    in the following years.

    So two days before the classes were due to start, we gathered the boys
    and told them they would soon be embarking on a watery adventure. The
    reaction was incredible – cheering, clapping, jumping, squealing. I
    don’t know if we’ve ever had such a joyous reaction to an announcement
    before. They couldn’t believe the staff had secretly been having
    lessons in preparation for it, and couldn’t wait to start the classes
    on Monday.

    Despite the excitement, some of the boys were terrified at the idea of
    getting in the water. Most of them had never swum before and felt very
    uncomfortable with the idea of swimming – particularly with floating
    and going anywhere near the deep end. But the expert swimming coaches
    helped them get over these issues amazingly quickly and within a few
    days, all boys were happily putting their faces in the water and
    floating unaided. They picked up the front crawl stroke very fast,
    with young and older boys alike, powering along the width of the pool,
    faces in water, completely unaided. Many, although not all, of the
    boys, were also happy swimming around in the deep end by the end of
    the two weeks, and most had learnt how to do really good dives (and
    dive bombs).

    As coordinators who have watched these boys grow and flourish over the
    last three years, we felt incredibly proud to watch them launch
    themselves at the task of learning to swim with such enthusiasm, good
    humour and bravery. We’ve always known what fantastic boys we have at
    the ROP, but watching them in a new environment with new people,
    tackling a scary and difficult task with such grace and good behaviour
    just reiterated what special boys they are. There was no crying, no
    fighting, no bad behaviour, just lots of happy boys grateful for the
    chance at a new opportunity and giving their all. This was especially
    true of the first group in the morning who had to get in the very cold
    water and fight through the shivers to swim before the sun had had a
    chance to warm the water up.

    See many more photos of swimming lessons at ROP Stories.
    Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children

    Engineers Without Broders in Rwanda

    From ROP Stories
    Goodbye Engineer Friends!
    by Jenny Clover
    24 July 2012

    As the last of our engineer friends depart Rwanda we want to say a huge thank you to the whole Engineers Without Borders team for their hard work!

    Over the last two months Steve, Kara, Andy, Matt, Andrew, BJ, Jordan and Sonya from Boulder, Colorado, have been busy with meetings galore, testing the soil on the new ROP land, designing our new school and generally laying all the groundwork for the exciting new chapter in the ROP’s story.

    Thanks to them, the ROP will hopefully have a new school on our own land by next autumn. Thanks for everything and we hope to see you all back in Kigali soon!

    Read more stories about the Rwandan Orphans Project at ROP Stories.

    Runaways in Rwanda

    Runaways
    9 June 2012
    by Sean
    From ROP Stories

    People often ask me what is the most difficult thing about running an orphanage. Well, to be honest there is no lack of challenges and frustrations, but for me the most difficult challenge is dealing with runaways.

    You see, the boys we bring in the from streets and from the far off rural areas of Rwanda are usually very young. In the last year and a half we’ve added many new kids between the ages of five to ten years of age. Although life on the streets is hard, these boys become used to being out there on their own, able to do what they want when they want without any sort of authority around to prevent them from doing so. They can eat when they want (if they can scrounge up enough change), wash when they want (which isn’t often, I can tell you) and move around town as they want. Sure, life on the streets can be harsh, but they become accustomed to it and it becomes normal for them.

    When we find them on the street and invite them to come to the ROP, promising them education, food, clothes, etc, they jump at the opportunity. Usually they settle in very quickly and all might seem well for a short time, but for some, experiencing rules, structure and discipline – in some cases for the first time in their lives – is not easy for them to handle.

    Taking boys who are used to fighting, begging and stealing, and getting them to fit within the ROP family is tough work. If one commits an offense – or “mistake” as we call them – the solution isn’t as simple as punishing them. If you make the punishment too serious – and for a street child any punishment is excessive in their eyes – they’ll wait for their opportunity and run away. If you take away a privilege, they’ll try to run away. If they want you to buy them a radio and you refuse, explaining to them that we can’t buy everyone radios, they’ll threaten to run away or just do it anyway. Sometimes something as simple as wanting some type of food they don’t get at the Center will cause them to try to run away.

    To be honest it can be incredibly frustrating. I often wonder how these kids can choose to run back to streets when we’re offering them so much. But then I remind myself that these are young kids. They can’t see past their own noses, let alone far ahead into the future when everything we’ve providing will really mean something to them. They want a sweet roll, a radio, or the freedom to wander around NOW, and if they can’t have it they’ll go back to the street where they can do whatever they want.

    Read entire story, with additional photos at ROP Stories.

    A Birthday Like No Other

    A BIG birthday at the ROP
    Posted on June 25, 2012 by Sean
    From ROP Stories

    Every June 16th Africa celebrates the International Day of the African Child, a day for people within the continent celebrate and honor children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Last year we were honored when the government ask us to host their celebration at the ROP Center.

    This year, however, we wanted the day to be all about our children, and we wanted to do something extra special for them. You see, most of our boys don’t know the day they were born. In fact, many don’t even know with certainty which year they were born. Because of this we decided that we wanted to make June 16th the birthday for every child at the Center and start by celebrating it this year. Now we just needed to scrape together some money for the event. We tapped local businesses for donations but unfortunately none of them came through for us. But just a couple of weeks before (when panic was beginning to set in) our fantastic donor Line from Norway, and her organization Metamorfose, came through for our boys once again. She told us that she would pay for catering for all the boys and staff to enjoy as well as paying for the Kwetu Film Institute to bring us a GIANT movie screen to watch films on in the evening. Obviously we were thrilled now that it was all coming together. We didn’t tell the boys anything about a party. We only told them the day before that we were having some visitors coming the next day so they needed to be prepared.

    Saturday arrived and Jenny and I arrived at the Center in the morning with crates of drinks. The boys started asking what was going on, but all the staff were tight-lipped. We gathered everyone in the dining hall and let them just sit and wait for several minutes before Elizabeth and Alex, two of our staff, came rushing in with buckets of water and began splashing all the boys (a Rwandan birthday tradition). They all took off running, wondering what the heck was going on.

    Now that the boys knew something was up it was time to tell them the true reason we gathered them all together. Jenny and I reminded the boys about the Day of the African Child and informed them that it was now the official birthday of all the boys in the Center. We told them there would be dancing, singing, food and plenty of fun, all capped off with some films on a very big screen outside. As you can imagine they were all very excited.

    So as the day went on we had dancing competitions, some boys read poems and sang songs they had written. We shared food, gave out all sorts of goodies like marbles and sweets, and waited for the sun to go down. When it was dark we showed two films; first a version of Cinderella that was in Kinyarwanda, their native language, followed by Africa United, a hugely popular kids movie about four struggling children trying to make their way from Rwanda to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. We ended the night with some Charlie Chaplin films, which are easy to understand and universally funny for anyone of any age and culture.

    When it finally got dark Jenny broke out one last surprise for the boys. She had collected dozens of glow in the dark bracelets and had been saving them for an important occasion. This was the perfect time, but before we handed them out I had to show them how they worked and explain to them that they weren’t allowed to break them open or put them in their mouths. When I cracked the first one and it became luminous a wave of “wowwww” came from the group. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on them and were fascinated with this new novelty.

    Finally it was finally time to show the films. Some boys sat on benches and chairs while the small boys laid out on the freshly cut grass.

    Read entire story and see more photos at ROP Stories.

    Changing Lives In Rwanda

    News from the Rwandan Orphans Project

    Great Leaps Forward

    It was April 2010 when the ROP Center moved from a dark and dingy warehouse to the beautiful site we occupy now. That move was a giant step forward for the organization, one that we’re still very proud of today. In the last two years a lot of ideas, work and money have been put into what was once just an abandoned school on the outskirts of Kigali, reshaping it into the wonderful orphanage and school it is today.

    But this month that reminds us of our past has also brought with it some great news about the future of the ROP. Engineers Without Borders, a large international organization, has chosen to partner with the ROP to build a new school and education center on the land we acquired late last year. This comes as great news because it will be the first facility constructed on what will be the future home of the entire ROP Center, and it will feature classrooms and learning facilities custom built to address the needs and challenges of teaching and learning in Rwanda. Everyone from the children to the teachers to the administration is very excited to see the project get started in June when the first team of EWB engineers is scheduled to visit the site and begin planning the design and construction.

    This is just another remarkable milestone in the short history of the ROP. In just a few short years we have gone from an overcrowded warehouse with a leaky roof and no electricity to our current home that, while great, we are having to rent for a large fee each month. Now we are on the verge of building on our very own land, and we couldn’t be more excited about the future of the ROP.

    The new ROP school will be just one facility of many we hope will someday occupy our sprawling land in the Kibaya valley. Of course we also hope to build new living spaces and other necessary needs for the orphans and vulnerable children who live with us. But we also want to expand the ROP to be more than an orphanage and school. One day we would like it to be an all encompassing community center where local impoverished families can seek help educating and caring for their own children through our academic and vocational training programs, where they can seek the advice and assistance of our social workers, and benefit from other programs.

    While the ROP is still a small grassroots organization, our dreams and ambitions are large. We feel that, with the ongoing support and enthusiasm of our donors (people like you) we can reach them and even surpass them. So stay tuned. More good news to come!

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