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Posts tagged ‘Rwandan Orphans Project’

What A Year Its Been

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Last year we faced our program’s greatest challenge and you, Rwandan Orphans Project and Imizi Children’s Center supporters, came to the rescue and helped us secure our future for years to come. That achievement made 2015 ROP’s best year yet, but I’m very happy to tell you 2016 was an equally great year for us and those we support.

Why is that? Well, from the moment we settled into our new home we began making renovations and improvements around our property that have made our Imizi Children’s Center a better place for our children. But while those changes are important, what Imizi is really all about is helping vulnerable people, and this year we have been able to serve more than ever before.

And we’re not only helping kids anymore. Recognizing that adults can also benefit from our presence in our rural community we began hosting meetings and workshops for local people and the family members of children who stay with us, where they could learn about family planning, sexual health, positive parenting, gender equality and other topics. Our goal is to help solve domestic issues before they lead to a breakdown of the family. To us preventing a child from leaving home to live on the street is just as important as helping those who are already out there.

We’ve had many achievements this year, and we hope you are as proud of them as we are. In 2016:

We increased the total number of vulnerable children attending our school from 140 to 200. These are children from our community’s poorest families who cannot afford to pay for public school, so they attend Imizi’s school completely free of charge.

We completely renovated one of the boys’ dormitories, making it more comfortable and safe for them. We also constructed new toilets and an eco-friendly outdoor kitchen that is great for the environment and saves us money.

We began constructing a massive underground water storage tank with a rainwater collection system that should ensure our children and animals have access to water even during the long dry seasons.

We successfully reintegrated 11 children back into their families. Each of them will continue going to school with the support of ROP.

 We rescued 19 children from homelessness. Three of them were only five years old, while the others were all under 10 years old.

We have five boys who have completed secondary school, two who have finished vocational school and one who has graduated university with a bachelor’s degree. In 2017 we will be supporting 21 in secondary school and 8 in vocational training.

Eight – that’s right EIGHT – of our graduates have performed well enough to earn government scholarships to university starting next year. That is a record for ROP and a huge achievement for these amazing young men.

To all of those who have donated to us this year and supported us in other ways – thank you for your continued support. We are so grateful to have your support as we do our work. 

For those who wish to make a donation as we approach 2017, you can visit our website for details of how to do this.

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Every Child Deserves Care

Because every child deserves care, love and hope.
From The Rwandan Orphan’s Project

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.

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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.

Being a small, privately funded charitable organization we struggle every month to raise the necessary funds to provide for our boys. There are many ways you can help, detailed in our How You Can Help section.

Smiling in Rwanda

Brighter smiles with a little help from some friends
ROP Stories
Posted on February 20, 2014 by Sean

Taking care of the health of 100 boys is no cheap and easy task, and looking out for their dental health is no exception. Lucky for us we now have some help. Thanks to Human Resources for Health, an organization that pairs international health experts with Rwandan health institutions in order to improve their level of care, the boys of the Rwandan Orphans Project have been getting free cleanings and screenings as well as reduced cost dental treatment.

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Read entire story and see more photos at ROP Stories.

Donate to Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

Best Year Yet!

Thank you for helping make 2013 Rwandan Orphan’s Project’s (ROP) best year yet!

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Some of our major highlights include:

This year we witnessed one of our own graduate from the National University of Rwanda with a degree in mechanical engineering. He is the first ROP graduate to finish university and we take great pride in his accomplishment and share his joy of success.

We started our agriculture project this year with five large scale greenhouses. This project is an income generating program that will use the income generated from the sales of the vegetables we produce to help fund the ROP for throughout the year.

Our nursery school, another income generating program, also saw growth this year and we hope to see it filled to capacity when the 2014 school year starts in January.

We’ve been able to hire more staff to help take care of the children and their needs. Today we finally have enough caretakers to manage the well-being of our 100 boys who rely on them for guidance and advice each and every day.

One of our most important successes is the expansion of our social work program. We now have two social workers who focus on the rehabilitation of our children’s behavior, their mental health and rebuilding the relationships between our children and what family members they may have, so that one day we may reunite them in a way that is successful for both family and child. And if we can’t reunite them to live together, it’s important that the children have relationships with family members if at all possible

After nearly a year of photography lessons, a group of boys from the ROP had their photos displayed at an exhibition in Kigali as well as a photo auction in San Diego, California. Both exhibitions were a smashing success and visitors to both we surprised and impressed with the enthusiasm and talent of our young artists.

This year we’ve been fortunate enough to have a team of dedicated international volunteers who have added extra-curricular activities to the ROP program and have provided badly-needed medical support for our children, among other generous deeds. They have also been instrumental in helping spread the word of the ROP’s work around Rwanda and all over the world.

All of this and our year isn’t even over yet! In the final days of this year we will be seeing five of our boys graduate high school and six others graduating from their vocational training schools. These eleven boys came to into the ROP years ago because they had nowhere to go and nobody to take care of them. In one month they will leave with an education, the pride of going from a street child to a graduate, and a world of possibilities that didn’t exist for them only a few short years ago. Today a world full of opportunities is at their feet, not because of the ROP, but because of people like you keep the ROP alive.

Aside from those boys graduating, we will also be reintegrating, or reuniting, about five children back into their families. While we hope to see that each and every reintegration is a success, our social workers will be monitoring each child’s situation closely so the ROP can be sure each child we’ve returned is in a safe, stable environment and, most importantly, that he is attending school. This is the ultimate goal for our program for each and every one of our children, but only when the time and circumstances are right for it.

So as you can see the ROP continues to grow and we continue striving to provide the best education, comprehensive care and loving environment we can so our children can grow and thrive. But we cannot achieve our goals on our own. Being a small, growing organization we rely mostly on the generosity of individuals and small groups to fund our children’s program. While we are striving to find ways to generate our own income so that we may someday become self-sustaining, the truth is that we’re not there yet.

As we enter this holiday season I would like to ask you to think about making a donation to help support the children of the ROP. Many of you are already regular supporters, others have generously helped us at one time or another and some of you may know about our work but have yet to take the step of becoming an ROP supporter.

What I’d like to ask you is to consider making a donation to our program this Christmas season. The donations we collect as we reach the end of 2013 will play a crucial role for the outlook of the Rwandan Orphans Project in 2014 and will dictate what services we will be able to continue providing our children and what options we have for providing even better care and support to them in the coming year.

As you all know, we are a small program, and any amount you can give WILL make a difference. We know how to get the most out of each and every dollar, because we have to. I can promise you that 100% of your donation will find its way to Rwanda. Not a penny of it will go towards anything other than supporting the children in the ROP Center and the staff that provide them with the care, education and love they deserve.

So please, help the ROP reach this New Year with a sense of optimism. Choose to be part of something great that is truly changing the world, one amazing child at a time.

If you’d like to help please visit our donation page.

With love and appreciation,

Sean Jones
Executive Director
Kigali, Rwanda
www.rwandanorphansproject.org

ROP’s First Photo Exhibition

Rwandan Orphan’s Project First Photo Exhibition
Rwanda, October 14, 2013 by Jenny Clover
ROP Stories

As you may have read here our boys have been getting weekly lessons in photography from American teacher Amber for the last few months. We’ve all be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work the kids have been producing and are often amazed at the shots they take, which show the Rwandan Orphans Project through their eyes. Last week Amber organised an exhibition at a communal office space in Kigali – called The Office – to show off some of the photos the kids have produced.

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We picked 9 names out of a hat, they got dressed up in their best clothes, and we all excitedly set off in a bus from the ROP to town.

The kids’ photos were mounted around the large office space, everything from close-ups of their friends’ faces, to the acrobatics the boys are so good at, to documenting daily life at the ROP. One wall was dedicated to photos the boys had taken of their own bodies, which they’d colored in and written over. Some chose to write about themselves or their bodies, others about their hopes and aspirations. For us to see them writing about their dreams for the future when we’ve seen how hopeless some of them can be at their lowest point was really nice.

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The evening was packed from start to finish. Hundreds of people came to see the boys’ photos and ask them questions about their work and their lives. The kids told us that at first they were nervous and didn’t know what to say to all these adults. But gradually, and probably with the help of the multiple sugar-ey drinks people kept buying them, they opened up and were confident enough to go round pointing out their photos and explaining them.

When not busy playing on the table football and ping-pong table and slurping their drinks, the kids were happy mingling, meeting different people and showing off their photos. They told us afterwards that they held a meeting around the football table where they discussed how nervous they were. One of them pointed out that all these people were here for them, and to see their work, and they agreed that they shouldn’t be nervous and should instead enjoy it. It’s great to see our kids developing into mature, proud, open-minded little people before our eyes and it makes us very proud of them.

Read complete story, with additional photos at ROP Stories.
Donate to the Rwandan Orphan’s Project HERE.

One Snapshot at a Time

Capturing their lives, one snapshot at a time
ROP Stories
Posted by Sean on September 16, 2013

Our boys love playing with cameras. Lend them a camera and they will run around the Center taking photos of anything and everything, filling up your memory card in no more than 20 minutes. To them photography was more about playing with a camera than it was about being creative and exploring the world through a lens. That all began to change when Amber Lucero contacted the Rwandan Orphans Project and offered to teach photography workshops to any boys who were interested, regardless of age or experience.

Amber has a background in photography and the visual arts, and is a staff member at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts, or MOPA. She not only brought great enthusiasm for teaching our boys but also a wealth of creativity and a friendliness that led to our usually shy boys to bond with her almost immediately.

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Amber’s lessons started by teaching the boys the basics of composition; framing, lighting, and knowing what your subject is before you just start snapping away. Her lessons, while geared towards photography, were designed in a way that taught them shapes, colors, patterns and other basic academic principles without them even realizing it. Those early lessons were meant to lay the groundwork for the exploration of the boys’ creativity that would come later. And although they started off slowly, after a few weeks we began seeing them becoming more strategic with their shots.

Before long, even when Amber was not at the ROP, the boys would have cameras out, prospecting around our Center and its surroundings searching for interesting subjects to photograph and trying to take creative shots of themselves and their friends that were unlike the usual hip hop poses they used to always mimic from music videos they saw on TV.

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It’s been several months now since Amber’s first lesson, and it’s been truly remarkable what she has been able to teach our boys, as well as what they’ve been able to do with that knowledge. It’s also been a great way for us staff to see their lives in the Center from their perspectives. Now many of their photos are hanging up in our office. Soon others will be displayed at an exhibition here in Kigali and yet others will actually be displayed in an exhibition at MOPA in San Diego from October 19th to February 2nd. If you’re in the San Diego area during that time please visit MOPA and see their work for yourself!

Read complete story and see many more photos at ROP Stories

Carried In Our Hearts

0399161058.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Carried In Our Hearts
New York Journal of Books
Review by Gabriel Constans

Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption:
Inspiring Stories of Families Created Across Continents

by Dr. Jane Aaronson

“. . . There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.”

The introduction to Carried in Our Hearts reads, “These stories need to be told,” and Dr. Jane Aronson does so with honesty, insight, love, conflict, and conviction.

This collection of adoptive families around the world is wisely divided into eight thematic sections, the headings of which convey the essence of the essays in each. They are: The Decision, The Journey, The Moment We Met, Early Challenges, Becoming A Family, A New Life, Reflections: Children Tell Their Own Adoption Stories, and The Children Left Behind.

The author/editor of this collection is Dr. Jane Aronson, who has two adopted boys of her own from Ethiopia. Dr. Aronson is a pediatrician who specializes in adoption medicine and who founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. To say her heart, body, and soul are thoroughly invested in helping children (professionally, personally and collectively) would be an understatement.

UNICEF estimates that there are 153 million orphans in the world. Dr. Aronson is trying to get as many of them into families as possible and make sure those not adopted are treated with dignity and care.

The title of the book comes from an adopted child’s remark overheard by her mother when she was speaking to another young child her age. Her daughter’s friend said she was carried in her mother’s tummy and the adopted daughter replies, “My mommy didn’t carry me in her tummy; she carried me in her heart.” That line alone could make the harshest reader’s heart melt, but it is just one of many poignant moments revealed throughout this compilation.

Molly Wenger McCarthy, who has three children, including daughter Lu from Ethiopia, sums up the experience of adoption (and having and raising children by any means) with an insightful and comprehensive line, “The home side of our adoption is a humbling, astonishing, crazy, poignant mess of a life.”

Shonda Rhymes (creator of TV shows Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal) tells about her need to surrender control to the process, as she adopted her daughters, as does actress Mary-Louise Parker and many others who had children previously or were adopting for their first time.

All of the parents who adopted also spoke about learning how to balance doing what they could for the process to move forward and simultaneously letting go of what was beyond their grasp or ability to change. Some might liken it to an adoption parent’s version of 12-step programs’ serenity prayer.

The section titled Early Challenges is especially helpful and necessary to give readers an objective perspective of the difficulties that can arise in the midst of all the goodness and joy. Physical and mental health issues, birth parents changing their minds, governments saying “no” at the last minute, adopted children having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and language, etc. can all take place before, during, and after adoption, just as painful issues can arise with biological children.

Carried in Our Hearts proclaims to contain stories from “families created across continents,” which may lead one to believe that the essays include a variety of adoptive parents (culturally, nationally, and of various financial means), but the reality is that ninety percent of the families who speak about their experience in the book are not only privileged white Americans, but also predominantly from the New York area.

This is not surprising due to the author’s circle of contacts and practice, but it would have added an enriching depth and perspective if there had been as much diversity with the adoptive parents as there is with the children who were adopted.

There is also only one story about an adoption not working out and the child being returned to the orphanage or childcare center. There may be fewer unsuccessful adoptions internationally (which is the primary focus of this collection), but on a local level there is a higher percentage (as much as 50% in some areas), in which the children do not stay in the adoptive home.

Whether you have children, are thinking of having children, thought about adopting or adopted hundreds, Carried in Our Hearts is an inspirational and timely collection. There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.

*****

Read complete review and more at New York Journal of Books.

Reviewer Gabriel Constans’s books include Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call; Good Grief, Love, Loss & Laughter; The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales; and The Last Conception (coming in 2014). He is the father of five children (two adopted) and is closely associated with the Rwandan Orphan’s Project and the Ihangane Project, both in Rwanda.

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