Celebrations

Joy at Rwanda wedding

I receive many wedding invitations, but because of distance, very rugged terrain and the time away from home, I attend very few. A monetary gift is always given after receiving the invitation.

Rwanda weddings have three ceremonies: the civil ceremony, the dowry giving and then the church wedding.

This dowry giving is the fun part. Oswald, who is my driver and board member, went with me as the interpreter. He is such a blessing to me.

The bride is the adopted daughter of my contractor Felix. She was orphaned as a child during the Genocide.

Felix in blue shirt

Felix in blue shirt

The dresses are eye-catching, The bride is lovely. She was presented by her brothers and papa Felix.

Bride and groom after both families have accepted this union.

Bride and groom after both families have accepted this union.

Bride’s attendants with gifts for the groom’s family.

Bride’s attendants with gifts for the groom’s family.

Groom’s female attendants with gifts for the bride's family.

Groom’s female attendants with gifts for the bride's family.

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A band and singers were present. They played and sang African music. The gentleman, who is holding the guitar and lead singer, is blind. It is his band, and he has a great voice. I was impressed.

Best of all for me, storks kept watch over the ceremony.

I watched the storks.

I watched the storks.

They are beautiful birds in flight.

They are beautiful birds in flight.

Not so beautiful up close and personal.

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I am assuming the tall guy is the male. Don’t know a lot about storks, but in the USA, tradition says these birds bring babies. Not in any stretch of the imagination.

It was awesome for me to meet again, at the wedding, after many years, Imbaraga, his wife and children. His wedding was one of the first I attended many years ago. Now his children are students at Urukundo Learning Center.

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Sports in the spotlight

Karate graduation

Karate graduation

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Ishmael, our dental employee, received an orange belt. The presenter was Iyamuremye Eugene,our farm manager and director of the karate team. I have so many proud moments.

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Kavine, one of the younger children at Urukundo, has earned another belt. Pastor Yves, who is Urukundo’s spiritual leader and her foster dad, and I were there to congratulate her.

Boys and girls basketball team

Boys and girls basketball team

Boys volleyball team

Boys volleyball team

Girls volleyball team

Girls volleyball team

Boys soccer team

Boys soccer team

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Volunteers attended sports event. Moses was the photographer, Natasha the observer.

Champions every one.

Champions every one.

We salute our coaches John Paul, Ignace and Theogin; Headmaster Irene; and fans Eugene, Elias and Olive.

What an accomplishment for Urukundo Learning Center! This was our first year taking part in active competition in Muhanga District primary school sports. Urukundo is No. 1 in foote ball (soccer), girls volleyball and boys volleyball.

Coach John Paul and his teams.

Coach John Paul and his teams.

Positives vibes going in. Confidence is important. The goal is to win. They did it.

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Red shirt, captain of girls volleyball team, Pierrine; black shirt, captain of foote ball team, Manzi; blue shirt, captain of boys volleyball team, Samuel. They are the winners.

Iris, proclaiming Urukundo No. 1!

Iris, proclaiming Urukundo No. 1!

Celebrating victory with Mama.

Celebrating victory with Mama.

We are the winners. Congratulations to all sport teams.

Proud display. We need a shelf at the school for trophies. This is just the beginning.

Proud display. We need a shelf at the school for trophies. This is just the beginning.

Worship includes caring

What Urukundo worship is all about: sharing what we have with those who have little and sharing love with a child.

Pastor Yves and Chantel give a gift of clothes to a precious little boy.

Pastor Yves and Chantel give a gift of clothes to a precious little boy.

Little feet need little shoes.

Little feet need little shoes.

His mama and Chantel look happier than our precious boy.

His mama and Chantel look happier than our precious boy.

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Several shirts, pants and shoes make a big difference in the life of a child and his mom.

We are blessed to be a part of this event.

Looking every bit the man.

Looking every bit the man.

June 2019 Newsletter

Return from USA

The 10 weeks in the USA sharing the love and the story of Urukundo Foundation -- its beginning, development and future goals -- was so exciting and so full of love. I thank all who shared their time with me.

Arriving at the Kigali International Airport on Saturday, June 1, I found Divine and Deborah, who are two of my university students, waiting to welcome me. They had been at the airport since 4:20 p.m., the original time of arrival. Along with hugs and kisses, they presented me with this beautiful bouquet.

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I arrived home at Urukundo Village at about 8:30 p.m. It was very late and dark after a long journey and a seven-hour layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My plan was to arrive home during the daylight hours, but that did not happen.

The children waited for me. The greeting was all hugs and kisses and flowers from Urukundo’s garden.

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Flowers are always a delight. I loved both arrangements.

Then it was off to bed for the children and a very tired mama.

The next day

The welcome home photos had to wait until Sunday morning.

The hugs were still special.

The hugs were still special.

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I was introduced to Auntie Betty’s new baby. His name is Alyn. Sorry my hair was still wet from morning shower.

We are a small group now at home but mighty. Missing our brothers and sisters.

We are a small group now at home but mighty. Missing our brothers and sisters.

Kids and home staff came a few minutes before worship to say good morning. It was indeed a joy to be home.

Kids and home staff came a few minutes before worship to say good morning. It was indeed a joy to be home.

On the way to worship, I passed this lovely message in the children’s rock garden.

On the way to worship, I passed this lovely message in the children’s rock garden.

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At worship, I saw the new paraments. The Sewing Center reconditioned them. They were a gift from Pastor Sunny Stock and her faith family at Christ Church McKeansburg in Pennsylvania, USA.

May 2019 Newsletter

Successful fundraiser

Here it is the end of May. What an exciting month it has been!

Now on my mind is going home to Urukundo.

Of course, the last week in April has to be in the May newsletter. That last week in April saw the “Bridging Pittsburgh to Rwanda” fund-raising event.

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Here are members of the bridge team plus two Urukundo siblings, Tresor and Solange, and myself. Awesome group. The three of us told the crowd about Urukundo.

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The celebration included a get-acquainted event.

Jewelry and crafts from Urukundo Village were for sale.

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The event was well organized and went very well. Everyone had a good time, and funds were raised for the Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real.

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Funds were raised, but it wasn’t enough to finish building much needed classrooms for the elementary school. However, it was more than enough to pay for a much needed, handheld portable X-ray machine for the Dental Clinic.

MaxRay handheld portable X-ray

Included with the machine are the charger, battery, strap/holster, premium sensor and software.

This is very good news.

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Urukundo Dental Clinic wishes to thank Vector R&D Inc., Dr. Richard Reckmeyer and the many others who made this acquisition possible.

Tresor’s graduation

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Arriving at the campus, my eyes could not believe this mountain making way for the Wells Fargo Arena where the graduation for Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, was to take place. We have mountains and hills in Rwanda, but this one in the middle of the campus took my breath away.

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Touring the campus with Tresor, this sign caught my attention. I am so proud of Tresor and his academic achievement at Arizona State University. This young man in our Urukundo family did not start his education until he was 12 years old. He is truly an example of what one can do with determination, dedication and a will to succeed.

Congratulations, brother!

Your brothers and sisters at Urukundo Home for Children.

Congratulations, my son.

Your Mom

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Tresor honors the flag of his country, Rwanda.

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Dr. Dick Rickmeyer and his wife Jan have been Tresor’s off-campus parents for the last four years. Urukundo/Hope Made Real is so appreciative of their love and family support. Knowing Tresor was in good hands while away from home made it easier for me to let go.

Balloons marked the end of the celebration.

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The grand hall where thousands came to witness the ceremony. It was indeed a celebration.

Yep, we were at the right graduation. T-shirts worn by the ushers and guards say so. With so many graduates, it was hard to get a photo of your special grad. It was just such an honor for me to see my son Tresor honored with his peers.

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The time comes for me to return to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Parting from Tresor is hard, but he has much to do -- three more graduation events and preparing to move to California to serve a three-month internship in software development with Esri in Redlands, California. Tresor’s degree is in software engineering

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Jan is chief cook and bottle washer. Jan is wearing her new apron made by the Urukundo Sewing Center.

Special event for Urukundo

Auntie Delphine’s wedding was indeed a special event. So sorry I missed it. Delphine was the first Urukundo employee in 2006.

A bridal shower was given by her coworkers at Urukundo Village.

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After a surprise, you shed tears. Tradition, I think.

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The wedding was followed by dancing and singing.

Then food.

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The food was served by the Urukundo kitchen staff. Looks good.

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The wedding attendants and Diescor. Not quite sure how he got in the bride’s photo. Delphine is rather special to our kids, and Diescor has been under her wing since 2007.

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Not the best photo, but our kids and staff presented the bride and groom with a gift. Jean Marie is handing the large pease basket filled with I-am-not-sure-what. It is never empty to Auntie Delphine in the photo.

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Beautiful bride and wedding attendants.

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Best wishes for a long and happy marriage.

Thanks to friends and family

I will miss so many when I return to Rwanda.

Rick and Jan Reckmeyer in Arizona

Rick and Jan Reckmeyer in Arizona

My daughter-in-law Janet, who took such good care of me and my erratic schedule.

My daughter-in-law Janet, who took such good care of me and my erratic schedule.

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My son Jerry’s family who traveled from Williamsport to Pittsburgh to be present at the special fund-raising event in April.

My dear friend, John Guiswite. John and his late wife Sally physically helped to build the boys’ home in the village. John taught me about plumb lines in construction.

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John and Sally’s son, Mike Guiswite, and Mike’s wife who arranged for me to visit John during my brief visit to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

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There are so many others who made my stay in the USA wonderful. Too many to mention, but I love them all and will miss them. Many thanks to all.

See you all again in two years when I come home to celebrate my 90th year on planet Earth.

Rwanda, here I come!

Mama