Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Trees

One of our Christmas traditions that is shared at Children's Home in Rwanda is the Christmas Tree. It is one way the children celebrate a tradition from Arlene's home. This year Arlene had an inspiration when moving the art room to the former sewing center. In the process she spied many beads that have been donated. What a celebration it was to have the youngest ones make ornaments and the older kids help them decorate the trees, one for the boys dorm and one for the girls.

But the real meaning of Christmas was at worship on Christmas Day. Arlene shared:

"For Christmas this year I suggested they each become an animal. Talking animals as the actors, cows, camels, donkeys, birds. The secondary kids took charge and they sure used their imaginations. At worship they started the pageant with the song Tell Me The Story of Jesus. After each of the animals told of being there for Jesus' birth they added a song, Away in the Manger, On Christmas Day, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Joy to the World. The oldest kids learned and sang beautifully, Angels We Have Heard on High."

I can imagine how special Christmas is at Urukundo. All 52 children as one family celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Peace Birds

Do you ever wonder how people are touched by the sale of one object? When it comes to Rwanda peace birds.....many!! What starts as a simple piece of wood becomes a work of art. Peter learned that from his father and now carves them to support his young family. It is a family tradition.

As we sell the birds in the US the goodness continues to spread as the money raised will also support our education fund to send high school graduates to university or technical school. We have 6 planning on continuing their education Sept 2015 or Jan 2016. They took their National Exams in October and find out the results in March. Passing with high scores means they will secure a place at a good university. It is extremely competitive. But before starting school they must work for 3-6 months in the military or on a civil service project for their country.

Others touched are the students at Penn State that sold the birds as a service project. They plan to connect with one of the students that the funds will support and continue with an ongoing relationship.

Thanks to everyone that purchased birds for their Christmas tree or as a reminder of the ministry in Rwanda. So many stepped up and helped us raise $702.00 for the education fund. Outstanding!!!!

*Peter, the carver
*Lucie, planning on university in the ministry
*Alexander, university for computer science
*Sara and Riley, of Kappa Phi, selling the Peace Birds

Friday, November 28, 2014

School Partnerships

This is an exciting year with 5 school partnerships. This means teachers and their classes will share projects with the Urukundo School in Rwanda. I am thrilled to work for a second time with Mt. Nittany Elementary and the Friends School and for the first time with Radio Park, Ferguson and the Nittany Valley Charter School. Today I'm sharing some of the Mt. Nittany projects with other stories to follow as the projects come to me.

Two classes, Mrs. California's and Mr. Fritz's, based their projects on the book "Where are you Going Manyoni?", a favorite with the children in Rwanda. It is the story of a little girl and her journey to a place she loves to be. Each page you have to find her in different habitats. Look hard as sometimes she and the animals are camouflaged.

Mrs. California's class drew pictures and wrote short descriptions of how they "actually" go to school and what their journey is like. Most traveled by bus or walked.

Mr. Fritz's class drew pictures and wrote stories to show how they "imagined" they would go to school. They journeyed on a dinosaur, horseback, dirt bike, jet, space station, hoover scooter, and one in a time machine. But he said the circuits were turned off so they didn't time travel.

One more class, Mrs. Hipp's, will write about traveling to school in other countries and describe landmarks and habitats.

In Rwanda they will do similar projects saying how they actually go to school AND have fun imagining new ways to travel to school. This is a great way for teachers and children to share their cultures across the globe! It will be interesting to see what is the same and what is different through their creativity.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Secret Seamstress Society 1

Amy Frank and her Secret Seamstress Society of girls ages 8 - 14 held an event to make super hero/story capes for the Urukundo School in Rwanda, Africa. This is the second year Amy gathered girls together to work on a giving back project. She plans to offer two free events each year to support the local community and the Urukundo School in Rwanda.

Assisting Amy with this collaborative project was another sewing instructor, Kristin. We even had a visit from Chris Rosenblum, senior reporter at the Centre Daily Times, to see what the activity at Contempo Boutique in Boalsburg was all about. And a wonderful story was the result. Thank you Chris. To read it in it's entirety, go to Centre Daily Times and search Secret Seamstress Society.

Some of the girls told me they worked on the fish project with Amy last fall and others said they remembered me when I came to their elementary schools to work on classroom to classroom partnerships. Great to know these partnerships have meaning for them a year later.

As always Amy and Kristin were organized and ready for the Halloween costumed girls. They would work collaboratively with some sewing, some cutting appliqué pieces and others finishing them with ribbon ties. They learned that everyone working together meant many hand were involved each each special cape.

I can't wait to see what the teachers and children in Rwanda think about them. What they will call them and how they will use them. And perhaps there will be other children that will write stories to go along with the capes. Anything is possible.

Amy Frank
Kristin Nasal
Chris Rosenblum
The Creativity team!

Secret Seamstress Society 2

Like busy elves they all worked collaboratively........Brianna, Nora, Rebecca, Lilly, Catherine, Aubrey, Maya, Ava, Emma, Beth, Corinne, Linlee, Maddie, Grayson, Hannah, Saylor, Paige and Violet.

Choosing a pattern and the colored felt brought out the artist in each girl. As the girls pinned on the accent piece they knew it would be so appreciated by the kids in Rwanda.

There were some oops as they sewed the felt pieces. But not to worry as they fixed what needed to be fixed. Some like the lightening bolts took extra careful concentration.

Finishing them off was a slow process as they threaded the ribbon for the ties through the top part.

Each completed new cape brought smiles of accomplishment as well as oohs and ahhs from all the girls. Certificates were handed out as they were encouraged to keep sewing on their own, at one of Amy's classes or at a future Secret Seamstress Society event.

Thank you to Amy, Kristin and all the girls for the super hero/story capes that will travel with me to the Urukundo School in March 2015.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New stories coming!!!

So much is happening to connect children, youth and college students with the ministry in Rwanda. I want to let you know what you can look forward to in future stories.

Penn State Christian sorority, Kappa Phi, is working on several projects. Last week they helped sew and stuff Nativity Story felt pieces so the children at St. Paul's United Methodist Church can decorate them. These will be used for telling bible stories at devotions and Sunday School in Rwanda. Noah's Ark was so successful last year we are doing the story of Jesus' birth.

In November the sorority will sell peace birds to provide funding to send Lucie to school to study to be a pastor. The sale of the birds will also provide income to Peter, the carver, so he can support his family.

Next Amy Frank's Secret Seamstress Society is having a special night for young girls to make super hero and story capes for the Urukundo School. Last year they made fish for teaching math.

Also this fall K-Cafe, St. Paul's junior and senior high students are having a 1,000 Toothbrush Challenge to collect tooth brushes for the dental clinic.

It's wonderful to partner with these groups each year on exciting creative projects!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

African Map Project

Isn't it wonderful how God brings people together. I was visiting with Anne Pelikan to pick up her donated watercolor for Art for Rwanda and chatting over coffee I shared some ideas about the Everything Rwanda Kids area. I shared that it would be great to have an interactive, educational project that could go with me to Rwanda.

Well Anne had an amazing idea. She would draw a huge 6 foot map of Africa with the countries. Did you know there were 54 countries? We all do now! And it took her 2 full days to make it. Look how fantastic it is!!! Anne is on the left and Joanna, a kids room volunteer is on the right.

We decided to have the children write and draw messages for the children at the Urukundo Children's Home and School, then glue them to the map. Grace shows how its done. The map will travel with me when I speak at the local State College schools. They can write messages to be added to the map. Then it will go with me in March when I return to Rwanda.

Messages reach across the world! I love it!

Art for Rwanda

When people say "it takes a village" to make things have an lasting impact, it really does. The idea for an art event began with Pat Elliott. His church Park Forest Village United Methodist Church has been having community events to support local organizations. This year they were looking for an international organization. And since they have a long-term relationship with Hope Made Real in Rwanda plans began.

After I reconnected with a few members of their church, Art for Rwanda came into being. All along it was to be a community-wide, family friendly cultural experience. Opportunities for learning and giving back.

So thank you all for coming, almost 225!!! And thank you for buying ALL the Rwandan baskets and most of the Rwandan sewing items. We loved that you visited the Everything Rwanda Kids room, enjoyed dancing and drumming AND even tasted goat stew.

And most of all we loved that you shopped and donated to make a difference. You helped us raise just over $9,500 that will go to Hope Made Real towards the furnishing and building of a 3rd grade classroom. We need to raise more to reach $27,000 for one of the classrooms but what a great start!

Keep reading my next BLOG stories about the event and make sure you see all who helped to make Art for Rwanda a success!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Everything Rwanda" Kids Area

Since Art for Rwanda was a cultural experience we decided there would be a room specifically for children and their families. But it was actually visited by almost everyone.

This "Everything Rwanda" room had framed pictures drawn by children in Rwanda, baskets to play with and carry on your head, drums and other musical instruments to play and an art area. It focused on interactive learning. And of course there was the huge African map I wrote about.

Our hope is that the children and parents learned about this beautiful country and it's culture.

Thank you to our kids volunteers Joanna, Anne, Laura, Jill, Nina and Rachel.

*Joshua, Yannick and Peter balancing baskets
*Rachel who has helped with Rwanda mission projects through St. Paul's United Methodist Church for several years.
*Lise, after dancing, is trying her hand at drumming

Traditional Rwandan Dance

Anytime a local event is planned supporting Rwanda, I am thrilled that the Rwandan community is a part of it. I first met Judith Mukaruziga 4 years ago through a good friend Mary Pat Dolan. They are realtors in the same office. After preparing a wonderful Rwandan lunch before I left for my first trip to Rwanda we became friends. And since then I have met many Rwandans that she and her husband have sponsored bringing them to the US.

At Art for Rwanda those attending were fortunate to see one of their performances. Grace, Janviere and Marie as well as Marie's daughter Lise wearing traditional dress and carrying traditional baskets swept gracefully through the sanctuary of the church as sun streamed through the stained glass windows.

Afterwards Judith and the girls answered questions about Rwanda and the culture of their beautiful country.


The afternoon at Art for Rwanda came alive with drumming as Jeff Martin and Barafo Tena Drum and Dance Ensemble enlisted kids help for the performance. The interactive, lively entertainment brought smiles to kids faces and hands to some of their ears but they played away!!! What a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be a part of.

Afterwards you could see the kids playing the drums with more enthusiasm in the "Everything Rwanda" kids area.

*Jeff Martin
*Barafo Tena Drum and Dance Ensemble
*Jeff and a volunteer drummer
*Peter and Joshua in the kids area

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Art for Rwanda Thanks

This community-wide event would not have been possible without the help from so many. THANK YOU!!!!!

~Committee members- Pat Elliott, Nickie Askov, Bev Sutley and Carol Falke

~Park Forest Village United Methodist Church and it's congregation for hosting the event as well as set up and take down.

~Centre County Caterers - Cori and Patrick Donaghy for the delicious lunch and goat stew!!

~Elliott Family for coordinating the bake sale

~Art Alliance, CDT and the Centre County Gazette for promoting our event

~Penn State Bookstore for providing retail bags and art bags

~Home Goods and manager Jason Smith for providing large display easels

~Holly Fritchman and Liz Lasher for many displays

~John McQueary/State College Framing Company and Bev Sutley for matting donated art

~Lori Dundon for creating an amazing poster

~All the artists and supporters of Hope Made Real for donating art

~Our Rwandan friends, dancers and drummers.

You all made this a huge success reaching just over $9,500 in sales.

Photos of Pastor Lee / Caterers / Bake Sale / Rwandan friends