Urukundo Village

August 2019 Newsletter

Several years ago, Urukundo experienced the horror of what a lightning strike can do. A day worker at Urukundo sought shelter from the rain under an avocado tree. The tree was struck, and the young man lost his life. It was a sad time and an awful experience for Urukundo.

Rwanda is a dangerous place for lightning strikes.

The New Times, a newspaper in Rwanda, wrote in March 2018 that “49 people were killed by lightning strikes in Rwanda, from January last year up to last weekend when 16 people were killed in Nyaruguru. The strikes also injured another 187 people and killed 45 livestock.”

Urukundo is stepping up.

In August, Urukundo, with help from the parent committee, took steps to protect our school. Most schools are built at the high point. As Rwanda is mountain upon mountain, there is no place else to build.

In order to protect our area, Urukundo has installed lightning rods to protect our school and the children and staff who attend there. The rods were installed by Optone Engineering Group Ltd. The rods are now the highest point on the mountain.

I remember the big metal rooster that sat on the top of my grandfather’s barn when I was a child. We called it a weathervane. Oh, so long ago!

At the school

At the school

In the village

In the village

Not only will the lightning rods protect the Learning Center and our Urukundo Village but also the local community in all directions. As far as I know, the community is not aware of this protection given to them. If one life is saved, it is a good mission outreach.

Hello from the farm

Old MacDonald had a farm and so does Mama Arlene.

I remember singing this song as a child and teaching it to my children and grandchildren. Here in Urukundo, our children also sing this song and in English.

We don't have all the animals in the song here on our farm.

We do have chickens.

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Our egg layers are beautiful and productive. We do not have a cock-a-doodle-do.

Layers are a source of income. As the demand for eggs goes up, so will the number of layers. Seriously, no rooster. We buy our layers as day-old chicks.

Broilers are also bought as day-old chicks. How fast they grow after only one month! They are sold after three months.

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Pigs and piglets

Pigs and piglets

Our mamas produce large litters.

Our mamas produce large litters.

The story of biogas:

Our pigs are a necessary part of our farm. We do not butcher pigs but sell the babies to private parties.

Now here is the cycle our pigs make possible. Our kitchen has many scraps as does the dining room. These scraps are fed to the pigs. Pigs provide manure for our biogas. Biogas is used in cooking the vegetables in the kitchen.The kitchen provides food for the pigs.

Hey, it cannot get better than that. A perfect round robin.

Cows. The one outside the shed is me. Oh, yah.

Love the little black and white calves (baby cows).

Love the little black and white calves (baby cows).

We have four cowboys and one intern: Pierre, Jean, intern Abais, Everist and Jovith.

We have four cowboys and one intern: Pierre, Jean, intern Abais, Everist and Jovith.

We are honored that other schools choose the Urukundo farm to send their students as interns for further training.

Our boys who work the farm are actually called cowboys. No, they do not ride a horse, wear a 10-gallon hat, sing or play guitar. They also do not ride off into the sunset. That was only in movies from long ago. That was Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Tex Ritter & Tom Mix. Showing my age.

Our mountainside farm.

Our mountainside farm.

Pigs at top, cows in middle, chickens on bottom.

Built one level at a time. Seems like the pigs should be on the bottom, not the top.

Drainage is well contained and not a problem as it is collected and used in biogas production.

A short history of the farm

Our farm started as a place purchased to move 40 chickens from the boys’ compound in

Gitarama town. When we rented a compound to start a home for boys, 40 chickens went with the property. Chicken dirt and little boys were not a good mix. We decided to move the chickens out into the country, so we bought a piece of land for that purpose. Not to move the boys, just the chickens. Later we moved the boys and all of Urukundo to this land. The cow first came as a wedding gift from one of our employees, so we needed a cow shed. A visitor from Ringgold, Pennsylvania, USA, decided we should have pigs. So like Topsy in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (age again) the farm just grew.

It is now a productive part of Urukundo Village.

News from the Farm

Bringing you up-to-date, farmwise.

At our last monitor and evaluation meeting, it was decided to reduce the number of cows from nine to three, not counting calves.

Owning cows means wealth in Rwanda, but providing grass and food for them is a big problem. We have tried different types of grasses and maize (corn) fodder. When you use the milk only for home use and not to sell, two fresh cows are enough. We do sell the calves, but that does not add up to enough income to support the cows.

What to do?

After much deliberation, it was decided to keep three cows, one for milk and two to produce babies. OK, maybe I am not so knowledgeable, but as I see it, one cow would be giving milk, another would be nearly ready to deliver and the third one would meet with a bull.

Make sense???

Where does the farm make its money? The chicken part of the farm is our main source of revenue. It was decided to convert all but three stalls for the cows into chicken houses.

With more than 100 laying hens, we use the eggs at the home and sell eggs in the community. We also sell young layers to beginning farmers. Chicken manure is also sold as garden fertilizer to community growers.

The largest number of chickens are broilers. These are raised on a rotating basis. We try to bring in day-old chicks every month as we sell full-grown broilers each month. Our customers are hotels, restaurants, schools, other NGOs and our village. On any given day, we have more than 3,000 broilers.

We are trying to get more customers, but we need to have more space for more chickens. We have an old building on the farm that can be torn down and a storage barn could be built.

The building has a bad roof and holes where small animals invade and birds fly in and eat the grain. It is also not a good size for storing food for the animals.

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I thank you for the generous gifts you have sent so that we can continue to improve our farm and vaccinate our animals, pay our cowboys and buy food for the animals. We cannot grow enough food for the animals as land is scarce and the growing season short.

With more space we can up the production of broilers and purchase many more day-old chicks.

Our goal is for the farm to be self-sufficient someday or at least break even.

Donations for the advancement of the farm are so needed and appreciated.

New Sewing Center classroom

Having a classroom connected to the Sewing Center is a requirement of the Ministry of Education. The curriculum requires not just sewing but English as a second language, business and entrepreneurship. The classroom is also more convenient for the students and teachers. The Sewing Center already has earned a Level 1 qualification, which permits it to give a diploma to its students.

Work began June 17.

The location of the former boys’ home, now the Sewing Center. The building in the lower edge is the kitchen.

The location of the former boys’ home, now the Sewing Center. The building in the lower edge is the kitchen.

This photo shows the location in proximity to the new boys’ home and Hope House.

This photo shows the location in proximity to the new boys’ home and Hope House.

Work as of June 21.

Work as of June 21.

Continued monitoring of project. Progress as of July 1.

Continued monitoring of project. Progress as of July 1.

Front view on July 10. Ready for metal sheets for making a roof.

Front view on July 10. Ready for metal sheets for making a roof.

Side view on July 10. Ready for roof.

Side view on July 10. Ready for roof.

Back view on July 10. Ready for roof.

Back view on July 10. Ready for roof.

Inside work in progress

Inside work in progress

The floor will be cement and tiles. Blackboard will be in indicated space in the back wall. Classroom is for 48 students.

Two entrance doors in front of the classroom.

Two entrance doors in front of the classroom.

Good looking on July 25. Building with roof and ready for exterior paint.

Good looking on July 25. Building with roof and ready for exterior paint.

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.

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