Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stories to Come

I am continually amazed by the connections being made with Rwanda. Children, families, teachers, local organizations, churches and the list goes on. Here are some of the upcoming stories of those making a difference. Find what you love and see how that passion can make a difference in the lives of the children of Rwanda. These will be just a few of the many stories I will be writing about over the next 6 weeks before I leave on March 10th.

I spoke to 6th graders at the State College Friends School and they wanted to help. They will be holding a bake sale to raise funds to purchase an Octoband for playtime for the Urukundo school.

Grace Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten has asked me to represent Rwanda as the country they will study for International Week at their school. The children are having a "Dimes for Desks" fundraiser to provide desks for new grade 2 classrooms.

St. Paul's United Methodist Sunday School Kids are making two "God Smiles on a Rainbow" banners for worship areas and the boys dorm.

2 Rotary clubs in State College have provided funds for water tanks for Primary Grade 1 and the library and another tank for Primary Grade 2 and the music/art room. A third Rotary is providing funds for the nutrition program.

8 retired elementary teachers are working on curriculum for our classrooms on magnets, amphibians/reptiles, spiders/insects, caterpillars/butterflies, water, time....

Twelve 3rd and 4th grade classes and their teachers are using their imagination and creativity for classroom to classroom projects. 5 preschools are also working on projects. Each will send the projects with me and I will work on reciprocal projects to bring back as gifts for these schools.

Penn State music students are writing curriculum for preschool - grade 3 for teachers to review and implement. We are still raising funds to purchase traditional Rwandan instruments for the music room.

Amy Frank's sewing class at the Sewing Studio at Contempo is planning a "Creative Kids Helping Kids Party" to sew educational teaching materials.

St. Paul's United Methodist Church is holding an "Isoko" Rwandan Market to sell Rwandan made baskets and our sewing center products - aprons and bags. The proceeds will go towards the $2,000 needed to purchase Primary grade 1 & 2 textbooks in social studies, math, English, Kinyarwanda and French.

Soroptimist, Altrusa, Kiwanis, St. Paul's Preschool, Child Care Center at Hort Woods, Mitchell Lane Publishers, Chico Bags, Penn State Art Education students, Childspace, Friends School House, and many friends and families are sharing their gifts and resources to support the work in Rwanda!!! Let me know what YOU are interested in!!!!

*God Smiles on a Rainbow banner


*Inanga - one of the traditional instrument for the classroom

*Dimes for Desks

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Kids

St. Paul's Sunday School kids are opening doors for others to serve. Last year Caroline Simon encouraged her teacher and another class at Mt. Nittany Elementary School to partner with our schools in Rwanda. Through her it has grown to 6 classes at Easterly Parkway Elementary. This fall Cooper Albert approached his teacher and now 6 more classes at Houserville Elementary will also partner with us by sending letters, art and books.

Over 250 kids and 12 teachers are involved. Kids are teaching kids and teachers are mentoring teachers in Rwanda. And it all started at St. Paul's. Thank you Tori, Sunday School director, St. Paul's Sunday School teachers and parents for nurturing your children to be a light in the world.

Cooper Albert, 3rd grader said, "I've really liked helping the children in Rwanda. At Sunday School we raised money to help buy a desk, goats and a pig. We also donated shoes for the children. At school I liked that we got to choose what we did for the "I Soy" project to help the children in Rwanda learn English for their second language. I hope I can help with more projects for Rwanda in the future! It's been fun to learn about Rwanda and help them at the same time!"

Rachel Foster, 4th grader, has connected with missions in Rwanda through St. Paul's Sunday School and Houserville Elementary School. "At my school, Houserville, we have been studying Africa. My class did a project to help Rwandan kids learn English. We wrote letters telling kids what we see everyday. It felt good to help through Sunday School and regular school. I like seeing my friends eager to help. It is very fun to help people in need. It means a lot to raise money for stuff that they need. Some people in the world aren't as lucky as we are. I know that people in Rwanda are happy we could help. I'm happy I could help."



* Emma and Caroline

Friday, January 10, 2014


Solange, 19 years old and living in the US. In 2006 she came to Mama Arlene and the Urukundo Home for Children. She was 12 years old and needed a safe haven. She needed love, spiritual nurturing, healthcare and an education. Thank goodness she found this home as she also had severe asthma. So severe that when she was 18 she came to Texas to live with her sponsor family. There she attended high school and a year later, this fall she started taking classes at a small college in Texas.

This is a poem she wrote for Mama Arlene for her birthday. It is a tradition at Urukundo, to write poems as a gift to celebrate a birthday.

"Love Found Me" ~~Solange

I remember when I came into your life
A lost and lonely child,
Overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness,
Yet, you took me into your home and heart.
Since then, I've never been the same.
You lovingly took me under your wings
Giving freely and openly praise and affection
I very desperately needed.
All the while expecting nothing in return.

You're a wise, strong and happy person everyday
No matter what the circumstances are.
For you are my inspiration to all my aspirations.
I am a student who never copies and pastes,
But these characteristics I respectfully copied from you
Amazingly they came naturally.
You're the source to what I have.
You showed me love and understanding.
I love how you treat us with respect
And fairness.

Did I recently find out that
I am an innovative learner?
The secret is that I am also a visual learner.
I learned so much from watching you
Mummy, because I love you so much,
You will always be in my heart -
Even though we're apart
The distance does not make a difference.
You already made a difference in so many people's lives.
And I will cherish your love and kindness forever.

This photo was taken in June 2013 upon Her graduation from high school. Arlene was thrilled to be back in the US for a month so she could attend this very special event.