November 2017 Newsletter

November is the month for Thanksgiving. 

Here at Urukundo we have so much to be thankful for.

We are thankful for

  1. The 23 little children God has placed in our care. 
  2. Thankful for the older brothers and sisters who have moved on to University and High school. There are 19 of them. All total 52 blessings in our lives.

    Two of the 12 University; Dada & Cecelia

    Thankful for our secondary kids, 6 of 7

  3. So Thankful for Volunteers who come to work at Urukundo Home and Urukundo Learning Center.

    Jane O'Conner and team present precious pre-Christmas gifts. Each of our 26 kids received a new outfit in a gift bag of their own. The clothes were wonderful but of course they loved the gift bags. Kids!!!

    Modeling the new clothes and showing off the gift bags

    Thank you team. Urukundo is blessed by your love.

    Amy Miklus & Mom Susan, Part of the O’Conner team

    Claudia from Austria. Making our Solar Electricity a Hope Made Real

    AIC representatives. Andrea Morris and Eva Lindgren.

    Go Ed Girls

    Jeanne from PA & Catherine from UK

    Dimitri my financial wizard and friend.

  4. Many thanks to the wonderful people who send needed supplies to our mission for needy children in our home, community, and the refugee camp.

    These photos of just a few of gifts for Christmas for the 26 Children in our home, 32 children of our staff and 400 community children.

    Clothes to be shared.

    Socks for children

    Quilts and bears for Mama & Baby ministry. Delightful.

    Toys to share

  5. Thankful for Sponsors who email messages to their child. I print the emails and they love to receive and respond. Kaboss

    Claude sharing his joy with others. Luki, Kenny, Aline, Other Claude.

    Gifts, photos and letters are so appreciated. Thank you sponsors!

    Thank you to all who provide English study bibles for us to present as a special gift to our High School graduates as they begin University and leave home. What better gift?


  6. Most of all I am thankful to those who donate financial gifts to me and Hope Made Real. These gifts make it possible for Urukundo/Hope Made Real to make a difference. With God in charge all things are possible. Knowing that I add without you it would not be possible. With you, we are making a difference for so many. May God bless all of you in this time of THANKSGIVING

Mama Arlene

Awesome special shirts and tablets presented to our kids.

November's Child: Claude Muhawenimana

We have three Claude’s in our Urukundo family.  The first Claude is 23 years old. The second Claude is 11 years old and this Claude I am telling you about is 10 years old.

His story is one of abuse no child should have to live through.  The morning two catholic sisters came to my gate asking if we could talk was a surprise and very unexpected.  The sisters were nurses from Mpushi Hospital, a hospital about 5 miles from our compound. Their mission for that day was to find a home for a child at the hospital.

“Mama”, one of the sisters, who seemed to be the spokes person, said "We have a child at the hospital that needs a place to live. We can’t keep him at the hospital longer but to send him home to his family would mean his death. Would you consider taking this little boy? The boy is 5 years old.  Please can you help"  

My first response was there is no room for more children at Urukundo. “Please,” The sister said. “Come and see him then decide how you can help.”

My driver and I traveled to the hospital. Not to get the child but to satisfy the sisters.  Knowing the process here if we did not go the sisters would be back many times. They were determined and for me if they cared I needed to at least see the child.

I was told neighbors in the community had contacted the hospital where Claude lived with his father and grandmother. The cries and screams of the child were heard too much and this had been going on too long.

They feared for the little boys life. Authorities were called and he was removed from the grandmother’s home and taken to the hospital.  The mother had been driven away by the father’s mother. The home belonged to the grandmother. The mother was not welcome there.  The mother had no way to care for the baby boy so ran for her life leaving the baby to the mercies of a cruel grandmother and a weak father controlled by his mother.

The grandmother hated the mother because she was from a different and unacceptable tribe and refused to accept the baby left behind. Her treatment of the child was evident by the scars and condition of his little body.

When we first saw him he was about the size of a 3 year old. He was malnourished and his little body was scared where the grandmother had burned, cut and beat him with a stick.  His arms and legs showed abuse. His ear was nearly cut off.  The hospital did not want to let the child be returned to the grandmother’s house, as it would have meant more abuse and possible death.

There was no decision to be made. He had a home with Urukundo where he would be loved and cared for.  The father stayed with his mother for what ever reason I do not know but did not want his son there.  He gave up all parental rights to the child. Signing him over to Urukundo.

It was a long time before Claude would allow me to come near him. He was afraid of women my age and with good reason.

Claude is now a healthy little boy. His wounds are healed and the scars are looking better.

His father has never come to see him. Last year his mother came to our gate identifying her, as the mother of Claude with photo’s to prove he was her son.  Claude was happy to know he has a Rwandan mother. She asked to have him visit her family as he has siblings. That took place and after a short visit she returned him to Urukundo. We are hoping he will further connect with his mothers family.

Claude is a fine young man and we are so happy to have him in the Urukundo family. 

The student, Claude was just promoted to Primary 4 (Fourth grade).

He likes Legos and is quite good at the construction.

He likes Legos and is quite good at the construction.

Long Term Volunteers

Dr. Bob and Amy Dove.  It is our pleasure and good fortune to have Amy and Bob Dove join the Urukundo family. The plan is for them to volunteer at Urukundo for a year. Bob will be program manager and coordinator for our computer program at our school and the ICDL teaching program for the community.

Amy will be volunteering with our school administration in that office. She is highly qualified as a professional with background in the areas of curriculum development, classroom teaching, corporate training, assessment, creating and presenting workshops, goal setting and career development, building professional relationships, customer service, strategic planning, supervision, case management, and grant writing. Wow.

In her free time, she will be teaching English as a second language to staff & teachers.  Bob & Amy are from Pittsburgh, PA. We are again blessed many times over.

Graduation 2017

Teacher, Jeanne and Hannah helping the graduates get dressed in graduates in caps and gowns. 

Kavine & Diane Urukundo grads.

Walk with parents, teachers, and friends. 

Sewing Center gradates fall into line in the march.

Our graduates.

A few of the tents set up for the ceremony. Very functional. The football field works well for such events.

Appreciating the spectacular.

69 Kindergarten Graduates.

Certificates received

26 Sewing Center graduates with certificates

Gifts ready to be presented

26 Sewing Certificates & starter gift bag given tp each student.

In the starter gift bag: tape measure, scissors, seam ripper, thread, and needles.

Thank you Carolyn Nunnally!

Students present talents.

Cultural Dancing

Instrumental Music


Parade by Primary students


Honor student, John Nshikabatware presented with the 2017 Tom Nunnally Award.

A gift from Forest Hills Rotary Club, Pittsburgh, PA.  Presenter: District Vise Mayor of Economics KAYIRANGA Innocent.

Machine out of box, cabinet included.

Bob Dove, representing Forest Hills Rotary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania presents the honor gift to John Nshikabatware, our honor student.  Congratulations John!


Bus Update

In August, funding came from our donors to purchase one bus and enough for ½ of the second bus.  You can’t buy half a bus so I was hoping for additional funding to come.  I could then send a photo of two buses instead of one as a surprise for you.  That did not happen.

The first bus was purchased and was used successfully during the last term of 2017 (September, October, November).   Our need and hope still is to have more than one bus. 

The story on the bus is a story of hope.

Several Rotary Clubs in the Pittsburgh area combined with the Kigali/Virunga Rotary in Rwanda and sent a request to Rotary International for a grant to purchase two more buses. Our hope was to have three buses maybe 4 because of the need and the wonderful growth of our school. In January 2018, our enrollment at the school is over 700 children. This is truly a need in this rural area

We are waiting on word from Rotary International as to granting the request or not. It may not fit the criteria for grants from Rotary International but I did not want to delay longer to let you know where we are on the bus project:


The bus is beautiful. Our school name is out there for all to see and the kids love it.

Oswald, our bus driver and mechanic.

Our kids got first ride in the bus. They think the bus should pick them up and take them to school. One block? Come on. Not reality but we gave them a ride. All 26 of them plus visitors piled in and enjoyed the excursion.

Look at the happy faces.

In closing a note from Mama.

Thankful does not say enough. From my heart, I need all of you to know what you as donors and support groups have meant to Hope Made Real, Urukundo Foundation and me the past 11 years. Many of you have been a part of this ministry since its conception in 1996.  Changes continue to take place at Urukundo Village. We started as a small ministry for girls and have become a large ministry for vulnerable children (boys & girls) and children in poor families throughout Rwanda.  From one house only to many houses including a school to serve the children in Muhanga sector with a population of 19,361. Binunga village where our compound is located has a population of over 3000. Many of them children. We (you & I) are making a difference.

Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you!

Mama Arlene