September 2018 Newsletter

Dear Sponsors and Friends of Urukundo,

This message is the most difficult I have ever written.

A ruling from the government has thrown us into grief and difficult readjustments. Please bear with us as we cope and adjust to this government ruling. Many tears have been shed.

For five years, we have fought this event, but it has finally become a reality for the Urukundo Foundation. The Rwanda government has decided all orphanages and homes for children must close. This rule is across the board, no exceptions. The government is requiring us to close our children’s home, calling it an institution.

This does not in any way affect Urukundo Learning Center. Urukundo Foundation is, as always, dedicated to providing education for those from low- or no-income families. The school now has 702 community children in preschool and through Primary 6 classes. Enrollment will increase to over 800 in 2019.

Our secondary students and university youth also are not affected by this directive. And we will continue to grow and benefit many needy children in our community.

But the 25 younger children are being moved from their Urukundo home to be placed with biological parents, or, if there are no parents, in foster homes or with extended biological families. All are expected to be placed after the end of the 2018 school year in December.

So far five of the children have been moved. They are Jason, Nelly, Kenny, Kenilla and Kaboss. As arrangements were made, we have notified their sponsors and asked for their continued support for school expenses, medical insurance and emergencies.

Thirteen others still live with us but have been assigned to move in December. They are Jennette, Aline, Kevine, David, Sarah, Rebekah, Jacob, Claude II, Prince, Benitha, Yves, Isaiah and Livine. Still waiting to be assigned new families are Johnny, Egide, Luki, Soso, Claude I, Diane and Claudine. We are hoping all will be allowed to remain here until after Christmas when the older kids in secondary school and university are home to share the love with them.

To say I am OK with this would not be true. My heart is breaking.

The good news is the National Children's Commission has agreed that Urukundo will not lose the children. They will go to school wherever they live with their families but will come home to Urukundo to visit on school breaks. Urukundo is trying to cooperate with the government to make the transition easier for our children.

We will have final approval of the foster families. We also have permission to monitor the children in school and in their new homes. Our child advocate Olive is visiting them at their homes and in their schools on an ongoing basis.

Those placed near our school will continue to attend school here at the Urukundo Learning Center. Urukundo is paying school fees, equipment needed for school, medical insurance and any emergency conditions. These payments will go to school and medical facility bank accounts in the area where they live, not to the families.This assures us the children are in school and cared for.

For those who sponsor individual children, it is our hope you will continue to care for the child you have loved. Your support will allow us to continue caring for the basic needs of your child and our dependent children.

With your help we will continue to support and protect our Urukundo family children. Without your help, this will not be possible.

Please pray with and for us and all the children as they prepare for this difficult transition.

We also ask that God will give all of our children, staff and older brothers and sisters peace and healing for our broken hearts.

Mama Arlene

Making room

Changes take place very fast at Urukundo Village.

Trying to keep up with new government regulations can be stressful.

Removing our sewing school from its present location on the main road into the campus was such a challenge. The move had to be made in three days.

The new location was not ready as the funding and building were mainly in the talking stage. Only the retaining wall is in place at the projected location for the sewing school classrooms.

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The only house large enough for the transition was the present home for boys.

Due to government regulations moving children into foster families, the number of boys in the home has been and will continue to be reduced. Moving the boys to a smaller dwelling took place very quickly.

Proximity to former boys house on the left and sports fields above.

It is a good house, and the boys love the new house.

New friends and old friends

Friends came from the Kiskiminetas Presbytery in Pennsylvania.

My children sing: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.”

My friendship with is Betty Grunstra “pure gold.” She is a long-standing friend.

Two new friends are Natalie Jaworskyj and Rev. Dr. Donald Wilson, general presbyter of the Kiskiminetas Presbytery, PCUSA.

They are new to our family. We welcome them.

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Special visitors

Urukundo Village and Learning Center looked forward to and prepared for a visit from a very prestigious group Friday, Sept. 21. Our thanks go to Francoise Uzamukunda, program director of the Global Engagement Institute, and Drew Kahn, director of The Anne Frank Project and distinguished professor at SUNY Buffalo State.

It was our honor to welcome Francoise Uzamukunda; Drew Kahn; Marie Rosemila Petit Frere Saint-Vil, mayor of Arcahai in Haiti; Katherine Conway-Turner, president of SUNY Buffalo State; and Alix Contave, program director of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Among our guests also were the SUNY vice chancellor of global affairs, the SUNY director of learning through development and other professors.

The event started with a visit to the dining room during lunch to meet the children and join in thanksgiving for the blessings of the day.

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Lunch for the visitors was in Hope House. Our visitors were joined by representatives from the Muhanga District and Urukundo office staff: Eric Bakinahe, executive secretary; Juliette Musabyemariya, human resources; Irene Dushimimana, headmaster at Urukundo Learning Center; and, of course, Mama Arlene Brown. A total of 26 guests attended the lunch. We were honored by the presence of the advisor to the executive committee, Gonzague Biziyaremye, and the advisor to the mayor in education, Claude Sebashi.

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Headmaster Irene gave a presentation to visitors at the Urukundo Learning Center.

The mayor from Haiti visited Urukundo students.

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A question-and-answer session followed a tour of Urukundo Village and Learning Center.

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After the conversation time at Urukundo, a meeting with Muhanga Mayor Beatrice Uwamariya at the district office took place. The gathering was impressive. Buffalo and Muhanga are sister cities and share equal concerns, especially in the education of young people.

Rain has risks

The rainy season has started and some people of our Urukundo family are still living in high-risk zones. Please pray that they will be able to repair their houses or build new ones in areas where they will have access to clean water and electricity. These include the homes of Libby, our cleaner manager; Pastor Yves; and the family of Juliette, our human resources person.

August Newsletter

Change in procedure: As visitors are prominent early in the newsletter, I thought it best to introduce them first.
Anna Symons arrived Aug. 7.  She came to Urukundo through indiGO Volunteers. She will serve at Urukundo Foundation for 23 days. The day care and Learning Center are her interests. Anna is a medical student at the University of Bristol in England.

Sarah Smith a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, arrived August 9. Sarah will spend 22 days at Urukundo Village. Sarah’s degree is in accounting. This is Sarah’s second visit to Urukundo Foundation.
The last Sunday in July we welcomed Tom MacGregor and his family to Urukundo Village. Tom was taking our visitor, Charlotte to his home in Kigali to help her reach the airport at a “too early” hour in the morning. Tom and Char are both from England and are good friends.

Tom has a lovely wife Ritah and two daughters, Kiza and Tona.  Charlotte was a delight, sharing her time with Tom’s family and Urukundo’s family.
The girls had a good time in mama’s toy room.

Char was a welcomed volunteer.
Kevin Castle, our Rwandan volunteer, returned for the second time to spend time with Urukundo’s kids during his and their school break. Kevin is a university student in Kigali.
Patricia, better known as Trish, and Marvin Scott arrived at our village Aug. 20. They are world
travelers and interested in new adventures. It was our pleasure to have them include Urukundo in interesting places to visit while in Rwanda. We welcome them as part of the friends of Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real. We thank Tom MacGregor of Azizi Life for making them aware we are in Rwanda. Jean Marie, Executive Director for Urukundo, helped me welcome them.