Monday, July 30, 2012

Mama's Ingoboka Fund

"INGOBOKA is help where needed. For me it is the most beautiful word. In my heart dictionary it means peace of mind and strengthening of faith. Words cannot express my love and gratitude to those who recognize the unexpected needs that happen in every family, and when that family consists of 43 live-in kids and a community, the needs are many. This fund is love in action and serving the lord. I thank God for it and I thank the churches supporting it." ~Arlene

The Ingoboka Fund was launched Mothers Day at Pine Street Church in Williamsport, PA by Carol Falke, Vincent Niyodusenga and Rev. Pam Ford to celebrate special women and Mama Arlene.This discretionary fund will help with unexpected emergencies and expenses that arise.

It has been used for hospital bills for Diana. Her condition deteriorated as they tried to find a physician that could help with her illness. The final hospital, that was the most expensive,had 8 doctors work on her. Total bill for 9 days $980. In Rwanda that is a huge bill.

Soon after Diana arrived home Claude began to retain fluids that led to a hospital stay for another of her little ones. All have recovered.

Then plastic had to be purchased to protect the goats from the unusually cool evenings.

Thanks to the Ingoboka Fund, resources were there to cover medical and other expenses.

St. Paul's UMC and many United Methodist Churches in our district have felt called to support this fund. They serve in their community and throughout the world to help raise up the next generation to a brighter future. They are using their abundant resources to serve and continually pray that they can bring "glimpses of the kingdom of God to earth."

*Goats were protected
*Baby Diana

See the next entry on Claudine

New Glasses

Mama's Ingoboka Fund provides 5 year old Claudine with new glasses.

Arlene shared, "It is easy to see and hard to put into words when hope becomes real. I sat in worship holding Claudine our special child who is 5 years old and nearly blind.

My reading glasses hung in the front of my blouse. To my amazement I watched as Claudine took one lens of the glasses and put it to her eye. She reached out and took the glasses from me and put them on her little face. Holding the glasses with both hands against her head she began to giggle and jumped from my lap looking in all directions running to and Friday gong her head from side to side looking at everything with her new eyes. Worship stopped as every eye watched this little girl discover a new world. PraiseGod. Hope made real.

Close your eyes then open them slowly and see what this precious little girl is seeing for the first time. I am a very thankful mama. There was no camera present to record this event, but it happened!!

Claudine is actually a miracle child brought to Arlene in 2009 when she was 2 years old weighing 15lbs. She needed heart surgery and eye surgery as she was blind. Mama was asked to help this little girl gain strength to survive the surgeries.

With good food, much love and many prayers she has grown to be a happy little girl surrounded by many brothers, sisters and mamas at Urukundo.

Everything that Arlene was told would be impossible for her, God has made possible.

*Not only can she walk but she can dance
*As a desperate 2 year old child
*8 months after she arrived
*New glasses

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Preschool Friends

As Joan reflected on Vincent's time with the preschool she said, "I was definitely reminded of the abundance God has given us in everything we have, and in response I have resolved to share our wealth of information and goods with Vincent and those families who attend his preschool. I look forward to a continued relationship with our new Rwandan friends."

For three mornings in May Vincent trained at St. Paul's Preschool with Joan Stroemel, director and Pam Lower, office administrator. Much of the emphasis was on school administration, office management and classroom observation.

They discussed curriculum, positive loving discipline of the children, parent involvement, and teachers in regards to their qualifications, performance, schedules and conflict resolution. He also discussed office management involving tuition, invoicing, policies and procedures, mission statement and safety.

While Vincent came to learn about the preschool and take away best practices, he had valuable information to share with the school as well. They discussed different cultures and perspectives of his teachers and the families they serve in comparison to those at St. Paul's. He shared stories of life in Rwanda and his preschool, answered questions, presented the children with a beautiful Rwandan basket and sang songs. One of the children shares the same name with Vincent and they became instant friends! As Joan said, "our Vincent was ready to get on an airplane and go to Vincent's house the very day they met."

On the last day the preschool presented baby dolls and teaching materials to Vincent. They are providing funds to purchase several bible story flannel board sets to teach the little ones in Rwanda during Sunday School. Children in our community are blessing children in Africa. It started with buying a goat and continued with a visit from Vincent. These connections will continue to grow and nurture, connections to share God's love for each other.

Vincent at St. Paul's*
Cyakabiri preschool
Gifts of dolls
A typical classroom in Rwanda
*Sorry I couldn't provide more classroom photos, but there is a privacy policy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ESL is Growing

While Vincent was in the US he met with several instructors of ESL and formed an important ongoing relationship. This partnership means ESL teachers are coming to Rwanda in 2013. Linda and Hodge Barton and Lisa Harpster are the professionals coming.

Linda Barton, English language specialist, has been a teacher to more than 2,000 students from more 20 different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, ranging in age from 13 well into adulthood. Linda has traveled to more than 21 countries on four continents and taught in several of them. She graduated from Penn State with a BS in Secondary education, MA in Speech Communications and a PhD in Educational Theory and Policy. At present she is retired but doing private tutoring. For 33 years she taught ESL and history at SCASD and overlapped her teaching to include 25 years at PSU as an instructor.

Hodge graduated from Penn State with a degree in elementary education, taught for 30+ years in SCASD (State College Area School District), K-12 ESL, serving students from over 25 different countries and language backgrounds. His graduate work at PSU was in Speech Communication with an emphasis in ESL. He also has traveled to over 20 countries. Hodge's enthusiasm for working with children only parallels his love of sports which adds a welcome dimension to his work with youth.

Lisa Harpster graduated from PSU with a degree in Bio-behavioral health, has taught ESL for 5 years at the high school level in SCASD, and has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a certification to teach English and ESL. She also brings a lot to the table as a result of her background in theater, hospitality, and health services. She's a great communicator and valued member of the ESL department in the SCASD.

All three have a gift for relating to students which seems to make their students open up and really want to communicate in English. And their energy levels are unparalleled!!!

When sharing their philosophy Linda says, "we teach with an eye toward communicative competence. All too often, students know the rules of usage, but cannot actually use the language itself. When teaching in countries outside of the US, I've found students respond well to the motto, "Use it or lose it!" Drilling that mantra brings language to life for students as they seem to realize that it is not something to be stored in a book which isn't used when the book is closed. The approach we favor more often relies on realia (activities used to relate classroom teaching to real life), as opposed to textbooks; role playing, as opposed to canned dialogue; and activities that engage the learner as part of a group, as opposed to individual predetermined responses in a workbook. Function over form pretty much sums it up."

In August all three will be traveling to Cambodia to teach English for several weeks. This amazing team is planning to travel to Rwanda for several weeks in August 2013. Their focus will be teaching our preschool and primary teachers techniques for their classrooms as well as helping them improve their own English. They will also hold English classes in the daytime and evenings for teens and adults from the community.

Stepping up to teach for now is Maggie a recent college graduate in radio and media. She has already been holding classes as you can see. (please excuse the incorrect camera date) When school is not in session English classes are held for a week or two for children from the community.

This is exactly what Arlene Brown's vision is for the Urukundo Learning Center. Education for all ages for the community.