Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cards From Africa Pt 1

Last March when I was in Rwanda, I had the opportunity to visit Cards from Africa. I was so impressed that I thought I would share about this ministry.

THEIR MISSION - to improve the quality of life for orphaned youth in Rwanda by providing employment handcrafting greeting cards that embody better lives.

How It All Began
“The idea for Cards from Africa came to British founder, Chris Page, in 2004, inspired by a Kenyan doctor who had started a similar endeavor to generate income for women in a Nairobian slum. Chris teamed up with Rwandan artist Gabriel Dusabe and together they learned how to make paper and create simple card prototypes.

Their first employee was a young orphaned woman named Ariette. After one month's time they asked her to bring another friend to train but she brought two! Shortly after, twenty more orphaned youth were trained and the business was born. Our profits are continually reinvested into company operations as well as the lives of our staff. Our hope is to grow to provide steady employment to 300 orphaned young people in Rwanda and to provide a model for sustainable job creation in Africa.”

Cards From Africa Pt 2

Their Values
They run this business because they believe that God has a heart for the poor and marginalized in society and that faith requires action: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, `Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,´ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:15-17)

They believe all people are precious and that they must do more than provide jobs: they must take care of the entire person. They take a holistic approach to employment. For example, they spend 30 minutes at the beginning of each day with their staff discussing practical, spiritual, and emotional issues affecting their lives. The life skills acquired from these discussions have proven to be invaluable to their growth.

The Future
“Cards from Africa is part of a new generation of African businesses setting a trend in our divided world. Our business model is teaching entrepreneurial, management, and practical business skills to our staff so they can transition to another career or start their own business someday. By unleashing creativity, teaching valuable skills, and fostering self-worth, we are confident that someday they will be able to access the international market themselves and contribute to a thriving economy and better quality of life for all Rwandans.”

Cards From Africa Pt 3

It’s Homemade Paper

“The beautiful handcrafted cards are born of simple office waste. At Cards from Africa, we make all of our handmade papers from discarded scraps that would otherwise be burned. Not only is this environmentally friendly, it also ensures that we have a large range of base colors and textures of paper to work with.”

Here are a few steps in the process of making paper for the cards.

Cards From Africa Pt 4

“Without chemicals and using the traditional African method of making paper, we create various textures using natural products found in the wide open spaces surrounding our workspace. Bougainvillea petals, Umunyinya (similar to pine needles), reflective mica rock flakes, and the imprint of woven grass mats are just a few things that we incorporate into our process of making unique paper with which to make unique greeting cards.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mom & Baby House

What is this new community outreach...."To celebrate life by providing healthcare and education for new moms and their babies and to minimize the possibility a young mother may abandon her child."

The Head of the local Medical Center came to Urukundo for a better understanding of our mission as a good neighbor and to share the hospital’s commitment to work with us. Since then the Mom and Baby House for new mothers and their infants has taken on a life of its own. Not exactly what we had thought but in many ways better.

The culture does not allow mothers to come and “stay” at our home “yet”, but they do come to visit our Midwife and Nurse for advice. They receive medical help as needed and clothes for their newborn. At the same time we share clothes for their older children. This outreach ministry has expanded to more than just the mothers and their newborns but to other needy children in our community. Sharing and spreading God’s blessings is what we do at Urukundo.

*Julienne our nurse/midwife is presenting a layette kit to the director of the birthing center at a local hospital.

*Twins with hats and other essentials

*Precious little one with hand knit hat

*Young mother-to-be in desperate need for help and care

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Roof Flyed Pt 1

October 1st nature played a horrible trick. Hurricane strength winds, hail and rain devastated several farm buildings leaving them in ruins. The storm gave no warning. Praises it did not harm anyone, nor the livestock, homes or other builds at Urukundo.

One of the little boys the next day upon seeing the farm said, "Mama, the pigs roof flyed." He was right as the entire roof lifted in one piece and flew up the mountain. Roofs from other buildings were destroyed and never found.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Roof Flyed Part 2

Work began quickly to first reattach the roof of the pig pen as moving pigs was impossible. It took 20 strong pen to pick up the roof that flew up the mountain and get it back in place. But they did it!

Then a new roof was added to the rabbit and baby chick house as it was totally destroyed. Cleaning up the interior is next so the animals can be brought back into their homes.

Getting the roofs was a priority and it is nearly complete. Unfortunately it was an unforeseen expense so funds were taken from other account. And these funds need to be replaced.

Contact me if you are interested in helping with the emergency farm expenses. Email me at

God surely was keeping everyone and all the animals safe.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


A Drexel University student

"Music has always dictated my mood; a simple melody or country song has always had the power to turn a really bad day into a really good one. In preparation for the 20-hour flight over to Kigali from Philadelphia, I started to make a playlist, filled with all different genres and beats, fast songs to instrumental works. When I switched on the playlist shuffle on Spotify, the first song that came on was “Remedy” by Zac Brown Band. If you are unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics read:

I've been looking for a sound
That makes my heart sing
Been looking for a melody
That makes the church bells ring
Not looking for the fame
Or the fortune it might bring
In love, in music, in life

Jesus preached the golden rule
Buddha taught it too
Gandhi said eye for an eye
Makes the whole world go blind
With a little understanding
We can break these chains that we've been handed
I've got the medication
Love is the remedy

Pray to be stronger and wiser
Know you get what you give
Love one another
Amen (amen), amen

And in those 3 minutes and 51 seconds prior to even taking off, God set the tone for my mom’s and my visit in Urukundo. During our 12-day stay, we participated in the daily activities of the children and mamas, including the daily chores, devotions, and play. During the school week, I assisted BlondinĂ©, one of the preschool teacher of Urukundo School, in the classroom; my mom helped Irene, the new librarian, and read the children books.

Upon returning from our trip, everyone would ask, “How was it?! What did you do?!” I don’t like this question very much. First, there are not sufficient words in the English dictionary to truly explain the beautiful life in Urukundo that Mama Arlene and her amazing staff, helpers and people of the village have made for the children of Urukundo. It really is a place of love. When people ask, “what did you do?” I feel that they want a description of how I helped in Urukundo, or better yet, what I “brought to the table.” I did not teach these children algebra nor did I explain the ins-and-outs of the water system or anything else of that matter.

I expected to be able to come over and teach something from my years in American education and current studies in university, but the truth is that the people of Urukundo, and really of Rwanda as a whole, are more competent and educated about life than I could ever dream. They are happy about having a basketball rather than a laptop or iPad, they appreciate the accomplishments of their friends and family, they are excited about the opportunity to go to school and gain knowledge. But the thing I learned most from my time away was that each person, because he or she is a son or daughter of God, is valued and loved. Thus, as I heard in the song, love truly is the remedy – the source to healing, forgiveness, the way for my heart to shout with joy. The love and wisdom I gained has guided me these past few weeks since my return to the States, and I can’t wait to return!"

Monday, September 14, 2015

Along God's Path Pt 2

Whenever there is an event about Rwanda, I attend. And I did that a few years ago when a faculty member at PSU Altoona spoke. I introduced myself and we shared our stories. That faculty member shifted her research to another country and we lost touch.

Then this spring I received a call from Nanette Anslinger saying the faculty member directed her to me. It had been several years but she said "call Carol Falke and she will answer questions about Rwanda." You see Nanette had been so touched by Rwanda working with the faulty member and wanted to continue sending items her church and others made for children. God had plans for us to connect and in fact Nanette a retired high school drama teacher is planning to go with me to Rwanda summer of 2016 or spring 2017.

Through Nanette Anslinger we are forging new church partnerships with Trinity Episcopal Church, Tyrone and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Hollidaysburg, along with family members and friends of these parishes. They have sewn 85 "little dresses" and donated them, along with 251 pairs of children's underwear to Hope Made Real’s Urukundo Children’s Home in Rwanda. Two suitcases full will be given to kids at the home, in the community and children in a refugee camp nearby.

"What began five years ago as a Lenten project of sewing "little dresses for Africa" has resulted in over 900 dresses being sent to Rwanda, the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Jamaica and parts of West Virginia. This year we added a "Cover Your Butt" campaign collecting over 350 pairs of kids' underwear. The project is now year-round!" ~~Nanette

*Nanette Anslinger and Sally Cupp
*Kids in Rwanda receiving the beautiful dresses.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Along God's Path Pt 1

I am always amazed when God places people in my life that want to serve the ministry in Rwanda. Helen Fleck, from St. Paul's United Methodist Church, is just one of the many people I am in awe of that have found me. Their gifts and enthusiasm always come at the right time!!!

For two years Heather has been an advocate for the Urukundo Sewing Center in Rwanda. Throughout the year she shares the needs of the center with residents at the Village of Penn State, encouraging them when doing their spring cleaning, to give their excess sewing and knitting supplies. Suitcases full of much needed items have been such a blessing. Thank you Heather!!!

*Heather Fleck
*Donated Sewing Supplies
*Sewing Students - training for 1 year
*Student graduates July 2015!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kappa Phi

Little did I know what Sara was planning. And wow what a surprise it was when I received a text from Adrian the former Present of Kappa Phi at Penn State.

Kappa Phi is a Christian sorority at PSU and 28 other universities, uniting young women in a common purpose of fellowship, service, worship and study. They meet at St. Paul’s.

Sara Cobern ~~ "Working with Hope Made Real this past year through Kappa Phi was truly a great experience. I had a lot of fun selling birds and baskets for education for Lucie and the kids in Rwanda. As summer and Kappa Phi's National Council of Chapters approached, I found another opportunity to help Hope Made Real and their girls attend university. Each year, a small part of each sister's dues goes towards the Active Tithe to then be given to a non-profit chosen by the active sisters. Wanting to help raise more money, I submitted the organization and their mission. During National Council, all actives in attendance voted and selected Hope Made Real to receive the Active Tithe for the 2016-2017 school year. I am thrilled that Kappa Phi is able to continue to help Hope Made Real in such a big way."

It's amazing how God works through people and puts a light in their hearts to bring hope to children and people throughout the world.

*Sara and Riley selling birds that raised $700 last Christmas for scholarships
*Kappa Phi with Nativity figures they made with St. Paul's Sunday School
*Lucie and Cecelia who will receive scholarship funds for university

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Danielle and Dave Pt 10 Last Day

Day 13 (Last Day, Friday)
This morning I spent 2 hours digging dirt, swinging a pickaxe, and throwing rocks to cover up the silo with 1 meter of dirt. This covering helps to prevent rot in the feed and hopefully keep the water out of the silo. The rest of the day was spent resting, as I have never worked so hard in my life. My body ached and it wasn’t until long after lunch I could crawl out of bed to play with the kids one last time before dinner.

Our last time playing was great, I taught them hand games and I finally found an ingenious way to ride on one of the playground equipments I was too big for. Dinner was sweet too, there were last attempts to convince me to stay and it was almost like the dogs even knew I was leaving. The male dog, Simba, who is always aloof, but content when I pet him jumped up to give me a hug and tried to lick my face several times before dinner.

Devotion is especially special tonight, Mama Arlene comes up to sing with the kids and give them a lesson on God’s greatest gift. She announces our departure to all the kids and we are bum rushed. Every kid is trying to play one last game with me and give one last long hug. They say they’ll miss me and I promise to come back. I have to come back, Rwanda is now my home far away from home.

Danielle and Dave Pt 9

Day 11 (New Faces, Wednesday)
Many new faces at Urukundo today. First, a woman visited who works at a university located close to where I live. She talked about her work in health and how she plans on helping the children's home in the future. She promises to bring two graduate students who accompanied her to Rwanda tomorrow.

Mama Arlene, the woman who founded and runs the Urukundo Children's Home came back today after visiting America for 2 months. Everyone at the orphanage has been talking about her arrival since we came to Rwanda. The past two days were filled with cleaning and preparing decorations for when she arrived. There were flowers prepared and ribbons cut to welcome her home. She received everyone warmly then spent the rest of the day worrying about her children and arranging the contents of the many suitcases she brought back from her trip. We had a party with all the teachers from the learning center, the other mothers at the orphanage, and the kids; handing out cookies and juice for over an hour in the Hope House, celebrating her return.

For dinner, Grandpa Howell and I meet up with a medical student from Denmark who is spending a year in Rwanda. We talk about living in Rwanda, her medical work, traveling, and a wide breadth of interesting topics. Before we know it, it’s long past the time we usually go to sleep.

Day 12 (Thursday)
Later on in the day the woman from the university is back. I accompany her and her two students to the Sewing Center, inadvertently working as Theresa’s salesperson by talking about her amazing craftsmanship. One of the students buys two bags and the university woman asks to get a whole outfit made. Even my new school bag is finished and it has a perfect design. Again, her handiwork amazes me, as it seems every bag is different.