Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Landslides and floods hit several parts of Rwanda in May after a period of heavy rainfall. Between May 8-9th, almost 2 inches of rain was recorded in one area during a 24 hour period. Northern Rwanda is particularly hilly, making it vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season. Government officials say that at least 49 deaths have been recorded so far, most being children. Some of the victims drowned in flood water, others died after houses collapsed under the heavy rain or landslide. Over 500 homes were destroyed.

The worst hit areas are the districts of Gakenke and Muhunga. Urukundo Children’s Home is in Muhunga District. 73 homes were destroyed and many more damaged. The 73 families lost everything. Our supply of drinking water was cut, but thank goodness we have water tanks throughout the property collecting rainwater.

Urukundo is also fine as retaining walls that were built several years ago protected the buildings. But Oswald, one of our Rwanda board members, said his home is no longer sound and cannot be repaired. He is in need of help. Urukundo is doing what we can by providing some funds for his family’s relocation.

Right after the landslides, government officials approached Mama Arlene to see how Urukundo can help those in the community that were affected. Two large containers, one with adult clothing and one with children's clothing were packed up and given for the local mudslide victims. Along with the clothes, 3 containers of cooking oil were purchased and vegetables from our gardens were shared.

Arlene is so thankful to everyone that has given clothing, baby items, shoes and kids underwear and socks to Urukundo. “Because YOU care we can share”.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tea Plantation Pt 1

Our drive 2 1/2 hour drive to the tea plantation was unlike anything I have ever seen in Rwanda. We were driving to the northern part of the country and the clouds were hanging so low. You could see the valley below and the mountains above! Stunning.

On the way there were steams, forest, acres and acres of fields planted with tea, people harvest and waving to us as we passed and people carrying baskets of harvested tea that would be picked up by trucks to transport to the factory for processing. Our last 10 miles were on a dirt road lined on both sides with tea fields.

Hundreds were working in the fields, most waist high among the bushes. I had heard it was a view so stunning and I was not disappointed!

We were heading to Sorwathe Tea Plantation Factory built in 1975 and run by an American Company, Tea Importers. Initially the company was in Rwanda to help with marketing tea internationally. Soon they were asked to to start this factory.

Enjoy the beauty seen on our drive.....

Tea Plantation Pt 2

Key information about this factory:

*Main asset - 2500 employees and 4500 tea farmers

*Production- 3 million kg or 6.5 million pounds of tea ore year which is 15% of Rwanda's tea production

Products: Black, green, white, orthodox and organic tea

*Fair trade

*Exported to US, UK, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Pakistan, France, China and Kenya.

Tea Plantation Pt 3

After the amazing tour of the factory we went to the guest house for lunch with outstanding view. Yes lunch was on a patio overlooking one of the many valleys and mountains. Valleys of all kids of agriculture but in this region mostly tea.

Then it was time for a delicious lunch. This was a rare day experiencing another part of this beautiful country.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sofia, Art, Water

I received a call from Sofia in April saying she was a high school student and had collected money for a water project. She spoke with another teacher in the district, a third grade teacher whose students raised money for a water tank for Hope Made Real and was directed to me. After sharing about Hope Made Real and sending photos she called me back and said she definitely wanted to help us purchase a water tank for the Urukundo School. This is another great example of youth making a difference in the world!!!!! Here is Sofia's story.........

Sofia, senior project State High, State College, PA

"The world water day project started when my master studio teacher, Maure Irwin-Furmanek suggested that we should find a way to raise money for world water day. I had the idea for each of us to create an art piece, and have students vote on their personal favorite using their spare change.

Maure made the decision to put me in charge of the project, and I used it as my senior project credit. So we all created an art piece, and for three days we held the voting. In the end we raised a little over a hundred dollars, with Grant Donghia being the student who raised the most money (he's third from the right in the group photo).

During the research that went into the artwork we all learned a lot about unclean or unavailable water and what we can do to help. I was really honored to be able to work on this kind of project, and I was pleased with how much money was donated and especially the cause that it's going to. Everybody deserves clean, safe water and I encourage others to help the cause."

*Winning Art Piece
*Another entry
*Art Class - winning artist is 3rd from right
*Students voting