Wednesday, April 24, 2013


This is an amazing company that provided a box of ChicoBags for me to take to Rwanda. There are many uses as Rwanda banned plastic bags in their country in 2008. Because of this it has become an extraordinarily clean country.

"ChicoBag is now an industry leader in the compact reusable bag movement and a leading innovator of fashionable, lightweight, bags and packs that can be easily stuffed into an integrated pouch. Their commitment to the environment drives them to provide a trusted brand and a portfolio of quality products aimed at helping humanity solve the environmental challenges ahead."

So thank you ChicoBag for providing bags for Rwanda!!! Bags for shopping at the market for produce, for books for our library, for those purchasing eggs from our farm and for fabric at the new sewing center.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beanie Babies 1

I continually get calls from people wanting to donate many wonderful gifts for the kids. Garen Smith, from my church, asked if I could use beanie babies. He had a bagful that were his mother's. What a surprise to see so many cute ones to bring to the kids.

But I soon realized I couldn't bring them all at once. So in August I brought about 12 that went along with many books I was bringing for the classrooms and library. What fun to read the book using the beanie baby animal with the story.

Some of the books the animals accompanied were Elmer, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, A Frog in the Bog, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Rainbow Fish, Chicken Little and more.

The teachers realize education is fun! They are so thankful to have all the many teaching materials for the library and in their classrooms.

Beanie Babies 2

This trip I was able to bring another 22 beanie babies for the younger children. I decided to make it a surprise. So during lunch, the day before I left, I placed a beanie baby on each of their pillows. When they went to their rooms for nap/rest time they saw a special gift for each of them. No keeping it a surprise though. They knew I put them there. I shared that these were a gift from a mother/grandma. Smiles and laughter continued that day and the next.

*David with his dragon
*Rebekah just found her rabbit
*Soso stringing beads snuggling his mouse
*Oops! Already dirty. So it was washed and hung to dry. Twins Kenny and Kenila.
*Soso, Diana and Agide. Still holding their beanie babies.

Soccer / Football

Many thanks to the Penns Valley American Youth Soccer Association for their donation of soccer balls for Rwanda, football as it is called in Rwanda.

Carol Baney received word that there were soccer balls available. New soccer balls. So off we went to meet board members and some of the soccer players to pick up the balls.

Coach Jeff Denger said soccer is a great sport for kids of all ages. It gives kids the opportunity to learn to cope with wins and losses and encourages kids to improve and become successful. Board members were thrilled to know the soccer balls would go somewhere where they are really needed.

Zach said, "I think it is good to give as they don't have as much as we do." Ty shared, "I think they will be happy!"

So thank you to the board and the kids for gathering the balls and making such a generous donation. Some went with us in March with more going in June.

*Soccer balls in Rwanda
*Penns Valley soccer players
*Penns Valley Soccer Association Board Members

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rigby Books

Thank you is not enough thanks for the generosity of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for their donation of 6 copies of almost 30 titles of Rigby reading series books. These are ranked as America's #1 resource for leveled reading.

Janet Lybarger, a retired elementary school teacher, told me about this series that she said I absolutely had to purchase for the classrooms in Rwanda. I contacted the company who directed me to Doug Stone, their sales rep in our area. After a long conversation which he started with, "tell me your story". It ended with a huge commitment to help. A donation of these books. AND a comment from Doug, "Speaking for the organization we're humbled that among all of the wonderful resources out there, you contacted us per a colleague's recommendation - there is no better compliment."

So thank you to those at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for taking the time to listen and recognizing what a huge difference they could make in many lives.

As many educators have stated, "these books are meticulously leveled fiction and non-fiction texts that use recurring characters and authentic storylines. They ignite student interest while systematically building high-frequency words and easing skills. They are research-based and classroom proven. Children start at one level and successfully move on to the next level."

Before we left We packaged the books in baggies to keep them together at the library. Teacher trainings were held to show how the leveled reading works. This is a process that will take time. As there is only one teacher per 25 children the teachers will need to learn the benefit of working with children in small groups. This is not how teaching is done in Rwanda and many developing countries. Usually classrooms full of children sit at their desks, look at the blackboard and write in small notebooks. The teachers at Cyakabiri preschool and Faith Primary school are learning about small group teaching and using resources to encourage creativity.

A big surprise for me was how the books were quickly used in an English class for women. They loved the stories and even began to read them out loud. I taped the women reading which I will share with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The Rigby series of books will be used in school classrooms, by individuals reading at the library and in adult English classes. Thank you for being a part of education and the future of Rwanda.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stories to share

Thanks for patiently waiting for new stories on my Blog while I get the internet up, travel home and get some much needed sleep.

The stories are many that I will continue to share now that I am home. You won't want to miss them!!!

Stories of generosity of book publishers to provide free books for classrooms and the library.

Stories of life changing opportunities for many orphans with ZOE Ministry, specifically Twiyubake Working group of 60 orphans that I and 10 others are supporting.

Stories of teacher trainings and how we are empowering the teachers to train each other through classroom to classroom partnerships. A bridging of cultures.

Faith stories shared by some of the teens at Urukundo Home.

How beanie babies are being loved and given hugs.

And female university students receiving much needed hygiene products.

Even though I am not in Rwanda, there are so many blessings and stories of faith and love that need to be shared. Shared because YOU are all a part of this ministry. YOU have been serving right alongside those of us that go.

So stop back to my Blog as I share in depth how you are making a difference!! How you are in the hearts of the people of Rwanda.

*Loving school
*Gift of Beanie Babies from Garen Smith
*Delivery to female university students
*ESL class using the Rigby reading series donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
*Constructing three more primary classrooms.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Special Times

Why we are here!!!!

Photos say more than words ever could.

*Carol loving Jacob
*Linda and Rebekah
*Carol and Kevine dancing at worship
*Linda sharing photos with the school kids

Blog is Back

One thing you learn here is patience. There has been NO Internet service for two days and sporadic electricity. That means no communication from home. That's tough considering the team left, Mama Arlene is in the US and I am here with the staff and kids.

So this will be a quick blog as I want to be sure it gets downloaded. And the heavy rains just started. I will share playtime and quiet time with the kids.

*Carol with David (stitches) and Belize
*Linda with David, Rebekah and Prince
*The team
*Carol with baby Jacob (2 mos) and Soso

Monday, April 8, 2013

3 More Classrooms

No sooner did we dedicate the first three classrooms for Faith Primary school than work began for the foundation of three more classrooms. These will be for second grade.

The view from the front of each building is spectacular with mountains and the big sky.

Carol soon met friends and was ready to dig right in. Unfortunately we had other projects to work on. But they all were willing to pose for a photo. Leveling the ground was the first step.

Only two weeks later trenches for the foundation are being dug. The architect, Felix, said he will finance the building of the school until Mama Arlene can begin raising funds for the three new classrooms. He realizes the importance of having these classrooms ready by January 2014.

Many helped our team raise $12,500 for one 1st grade classroom. That is where Haley Justice, a senior high student raised the final $1,000 through the "Hearts for Rwanda" art show.

The excitement and challenge begins again to see if $12,500 can be raised for one 2nd grade classroom.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sewing Enterprise 1

We were thrilled to see the sewing center open and beginning operation. Five treadle sewing machines were purchased by donors in State College and at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. They were set up and being used when we arrived.

Aprons for the kitchen staff, uniforms for the farmers, dresses for the primary school dedication, skirts and shoulder bags. It was fully operational but needed the many supplies we were bringing. Two huge suitcases full.

Therese the sewing instructor and I are meeting for the first time. She was smiling as she received the many gifts of sewing supplies.

Women and men will come daily to sew as well as learn to sew. Orders are coming in, so many hands are needed.

Sewing Enterprise 2

Two weeks after we have been here, the sewing supplies are all shelved. I stopped by and realized there were some tools they didn't know how to use.

First I showed them the seam ripper which they will use instead of a razor blade. Then the mat which they hung on the walls as they weren't sure how to use it. They would normally cut on the table and not have the grid. Another tool was the round cutter. Their eyes lit up when they realized how it worked. A pair of scissors had a safety latch they didn't know how to open. Just think what they can with all these new sewing tools.

Next stop for me was the open market to purchase fabric. They will make several aprons, shoulder bags and little purses for me to bring home to sell. I can also use these as samples to take orders. The sewing center will be open to men and women throughout the day with Therese teaching as needed.

What a celebration to see opportunities grow at Urukundo Home and Learning Center that reach people in the community!!!