In April of this year, more than 80 volunteers joined together on Chigasaki Beach to raise awareness about past and present genocides in Africa. Funds in excess of ¥230,000 were raised to give to non-
profit organizations in the country of Rwanda, which biathlon organizer Soness Stevens visited in August.
A message from Sonessl, Run For Rwanda organizer:
Rwanda is still rebuilding after the terrible events of 1994, but there is much to be optimistic about: the country is politically stable and has one of the lowest crime rates in Africa, there is a growing middle class, and the citizens of Rwanda are learning to live and work together as equals. During the visit in August, I was able to visit with the managers of Imbabazi Orphanage in Mugongo (for more information see: http://imbabazi.org
It proved impossible, unfortunately, to meet with leaders of ASOFERWA, the other organization I’d hoped to visit during our trip. But I was lucky to meet up with several other organizations which inspired our confidence. My main concern with disbursing the raised funds was that much of it might be lost in a bureaucratic no-man’s-land, or that it would be spent on unnecessary overhead, or that it would line the pockets of corrupt or incompetent NGO workers. I was very happy, then, to identify two new recipients, in addition to the Imbabazi Orphanage, for the monies we raised:
(1) The Kivu Writers Organization, sponsored by Volunteers Serving Overseas, a unique educational and literary project which enhances creativity in young secondary school students in Rwanda. To date it is the only creative writing project which currently exists in Rwanda; its long-term goals are to develop a written literary culture in Rwanda amongst young people and to raise awareness of the educational potential of creative writing in terms of sensitizing the Rwandan public on issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender equity, human rights and social tolerance. The program provides a rare and invaluable forum for young victims of genocide to express their feelings in a creative and public way.
(2) The Good Shepherd school in Kigali, Rwanda. This school is located on a hill in the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. We met with the principal and several teachers, many of whom work at the school on a volunteer or semi-volunteer basis. As an example, one of the English teachers we met teaches there without any remuneration whatsoever. The school is sponsored by the Good Shepherd church, located nearby, but it is desperately poor and lacks sorely-needed materials (most lack even simple items like pens, paper, and crayons!).
Most of the schoolchildren live in the slums surrounding the school grounds and cannot afford the yearly tuition costs, low though they are ($60 annually). Many of the students are infected with HIV or malaria, or both. Many of these kids, even older children around age twelve, are attending school for the first time. But they are bright and eager to learn, and they gave a joyous reception during a spontaneous visit to their classroom.
Thank you for all that you do.