pages.

[robbie]

last week at the kiziba community library we started cataloging every book upon those many crowded shelves. five of us, with assistance from a couple helpful visitors, wrote down titles and authors and numbers, book by book. there are thousands of books, all donated from various places, and they combine to create a very full library. it took me alone over six hours to catalog the young adult fiction section.

as a side note, i will wonder at how some young adult books get published. their subject matter is often absurd. if people on the other side of the world, say in a refugee camp in central africa, were trying to understand american culture by looking through the young adult section of a library they would think that all americans are obsessed with pets, horses, really quirky kids, and teenage relationship drama. which may be true. here’s to you, america. sometimes there would be books with a ridiculous amount of qualifying titles. like: mary barfword’s bellford high: heartbreakers club: boy chasers book 3: a mindy diary: boyfriend battle. i kid you not there are actually books like this.

but that little rant is hardly the point of this story.

last thursday i got up to the camp a little after nine to find johnson, soki, and grodya already focused on their respective shelves and genres plugging away. it was weirdly silent. they greeted me and then got right back to work. henry had been there earlier, finishing the section he had been working on the day before, and he was to show up again later after an appointment. i pulled out my computer and started as well, marveling at books i last saw when i was eight years old, and laughing at how many books have been written about magical puppies.

we were working hard, perhaps each lost in our own worlds, when we all become aware of the rising level of noise in the library. after summoning johnson’s attention to help several kids pick out books, i realized that the library was full of people. every several minutes there was another person at the window in the thin dividing wall between the main room and where the books are kept, asking for this or that.

there were kids of all ages and several adults. some were flipping through old national geographic magazines, some through spider man kids’ comics, some were teaching themselves how to draw, or laughing at the weird pictures in a guinness world records book. there were middle aged men with textbooks and dictionaries, piecing together a partially known language into useful information, and students with epics of african literature reading in preparation for the nearing resumption of classes. and covering it all was the constant, buzzing mumble of a dozen or more little voices slowly sounding out english words.

many of the library crowd returned several times to exchange one book for another, but there was also a steady stream of new people arriving over the course of the hours i was there. i sat at a small, cluttered table near the little window in the diving wall. i helped some people and called johnson over when the particulars of the language barrier became too much. the window is above waist level on me, which means it is not the most accessible thing for the smallest of the kids present. sometimes i would see just a pair of eyes peeking in, or sometimes a tiny arm holding a book over the edge and i would laughingly call to johnson out from his focused cataloging to help the young lad.

i say ‘young lad’ purposefully because while there were dozens of people in the library over the course of several hours not one of them was female. this fact is a constant frustration for those who work in the library. it is a cultural hurdle over which we are still attempting to leap. but this could be a long blog for another time.

this was an encouraging day for me. and all i am attempting to show you with this little post is that the library in kiziba is alive. people are using its resources for learning and fun, the purposes for which it was built. there are dozens of men and women, young and old, attending english and bible classes, and we pack that place out every time we hold a special event.

and more is coming. to all of you who have donated to help us bring solar power to the kiziba community library, we at international teams rwanda and jcm give you our great thanks. because of your commitment we are going to be able to expand and make better everything we do at the library. the fundraising goals have been met and we will begin to take those expanding, hopeful steps soon.

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment

against a sea of troubles.

[robbie]

in the last months of my undergraduate studies my greek professor and i had a conversation in which he encouraged me to go to grad school. my response was a kind way of saying i never want to go back to school ever.

since then my mindset has been much the same, that grad school was for other people. i learned a lot in the following years, gained much experience, traveled, was married, moved to rwanda. i do not regret this time.

but there came a point working here in rwanda when i felt fairly lost and insignificant. i have experience, i know things, i read a lot and am not uninformed, and yet i still feel like a very small, inadequate fish in the great ocean of international development and cross-cultural ministry. there is much about the world i still did not know. and i remember thinking over a year ago, that’s it – i’m going back to school!

i looked around at some grad school possibilities, but it was overwhelming and i put that thought on a back-burner and focused on the work at hand.

before and during our return to the states to see my sister graduate university and get married in almost the same week, steph and i were wrestling with the idea of staying in rwanda for longer than our initial two-year commitment. the work here, especially in the refugee camp, was growing and we were starting to see some good and exciting things happen. it seemed stupid to just duck out when our time was up without at least a thought of staying to have a part in the continuation of those good things. so as we prayed about this, we figured that we would probably stay unless there was something else on the horizon, some clear direction, that was important enough to take us away from rwanda for a good reason. something that would be a kind of continuation of our time here, and not just leaving because our contracts were up.

enter continued thoughts about grad school.

initially my thought was to aim for working with one of those big important organizations, world vision or the like, who look for people with degrees in international development. so in such departments is where i began my searching. but when we told our team leader jen what i was thinking she said she would cry if i ever got a job with one of the big organizations. she said i was ‘too grassroots’ for that. i had to agree. as i grew into my role working with refugees in the camp i came to realize that i didn’t want to work with giant systems or think about millions of dollars or push numbers around a desk and hold meetings and never really work among the people of the communities we were trying to impact. though i see the great value in being able to implement programs that serve millions, and i don’t begrudge the big ngos for the work they do, i don’t think i am wired to do the same.

i thus reexamined my current job with the refugees and i realized that it was indeed the kind of work i would like to continue, in some capacity or another. and it wasn’t international development on a grand scale so much as, say, community development. i began to refine my searches even further by adding an education element into the mix, as – if you haven’t noticed with the last year of blogging – i have been infected by the reality that education very actively transforms communities. through the library, through the secondary school, we are doing educational development and i love it. to know how to do my job better would be wonderful.

listening to oscar, grodya, henry, and others talk i began to understand how important education is to kiziba. education for those in the camp is an active hope, real transformation, measurable growth, proof to the world that people in stunted places are not useless. some say that the way to change the world is through educating girls. some say that with education you can end terrorism. when the refugees talk about these things i see the fire in their souls and i believe it. not just because their words are sufficiently inspiring, but because i have seen the starts of these things already. i have seen growing minds thinking critically and engaging with the world in new ways; i have seen people disgusted with the violence of their homeland and seeking alternative ways to end it; i have seen how thousands of people can band together so that a handful can be educated; i have heard from parents who are beyond joyful that someone is working to keep their kids out of trouble and help them fill their minds with good things. on and on.

grodya talks about battling a leviathan when he looks at the mess of the eastern congo, at the ambivalence of the world toward refugees, at the hopelessness of camp life. and against this sea of troubles his practical answer is always increased education.

early on in my searching i had stumbled across the university of glasgow’s international development program as an intriguing option. after refining my thinking i looked again and found they had a community learning and development program, being community development focused through education. something clicked in my head and heart. after stewing over it and some other programs for a while, i applied. within the month i was offered ‘unconditional acceptance’ to the university of glasgow.

all this to say that i want – as always, in everything – to know more. i want to be able to understand the work of education in underdeveloped and under-resourced areas better, to be able to work more efficiently and effectively. and in that i hope to never lose sight of the key to the whole process that is the relationships we make in those forgotten corners.

so we leave in april, visit some friends on the way home, and – visas allowing – we move to scotland in september to start a twelve-month grad program. after that, well, we’ll see. because a master’s degree isn’t an end, it’s another step.

Posted in the thousand hills | 3 Comments

the least expected places.

[robbie]

He has shown strength with his arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

-luke 1.51-53

mary proclaims the above words (and more) in joyous response to the work of God in her life, and she sees far beyond herself to the ways that God works in a broken world. God coming to a poor teenager in some small corner of the roman empire is a continuation of the theme throughout history of God using the unassuming and unknown for great things. and this theme continues in the life of Jesus who operates under the blanket of oppression, often in just such forgotten corners. and His disciples continue in that vein, spreading the message abundantly without the help of worldly empires and kings.

and isn’t it incredible that God would show His strength in this world by upsetting the oppressors and lifting up the lives of the poor? what a hopeful refrain for so many. the mighty, the proud, the rich are humbled, the chains of their power broken. this is what God does throughout history and promises to continue. the mountains laid low, the valleys filled in; justice, an equalizing, a leveling. these and more are the marks of the Kingdom, a new way of seeing and interacting with the world, where the power of God is really in control and we see the structures of this world for the broken attempts at control that they really are.

during advent and christmas we reflect on the coming of the light that shines in the darkness, this new way of relating to the Father and the world around us. we celebrate now in kiziba for we have raised all the necessary funds to bring solar power to the community library, and we look forward to bringing light in figurative and literal ways. because – and i’m going to make some bold connections here – under the blanket of oppression, in forgotten corners of the world, our refugee friends operate, and, outside of the systems of man, they work to bring alternative access to education, to bring light to dark places. and in this work we see the marks of the Kingdom.

grodya says:

‘this library should be a light in the camp…[the library can] give a light to their [refugees’] hearts, for people here are hopeless.’

grodya talks about how we are using guns in the camp, not physical guns that fire bullets, but spiritual and intellectual guns. and he says that with such guns ‘we can’t kill people, but we can kill hatred. we can kill darkness.’

we focus on education in kiziba because we believe that education is not just a good idea; we feel that education is the next step to a changed world.

if you look at the lives of the people with whom we work in the refugee camp then you will see the impact that dedicated and thoughtful people can have when they work together. and next year, as a result of their teaching and leading, there will be a dozen more thoughtful and dedicated people, and the year after that a hundred more, and on and on, and i dream that people from places like kiziba are going to show the world the ways to peace and are going to change central africa. we can work towards bringing the Kingdom here on earth and part of that is building up communities that move beyond the violent mistakes of the past, the complacency and subtle cruelty of the present, who lean on Christ and listen to Him and don’t trust in the systems of man, building up people who see the world very differently.

i believe that people like this have always and will always exist in the shadows of empire, mostly unnoticed, but always impactful. we get glimpses when someone writes a book or something.   you probably know some of these people. some of you probably qualify. we believe that true change comes from the least expected places, it begins in places like a bethlehem stable. maybe it grows out of the mire of pools of stagnant water.*

i realize that in terms of the world and its sweeping poverty i am fairly wealthy. we who are rich need to ask ourselves if we are the proud or the oppressors. we must consistently identify, adjust, learn, and grow. and then ask ourselves how we can, in big and little ways, work for the Kingdom of God, not for earthly structures, work to subvert oppressive systems, and continue the beautiful work of Christ.

let’s think on the forgotten corners of the world, and seek them out, this Christmas. let’s be inspired and moved by those doing much with very little, and against all expectations.

 

*the meaning of kiziba.

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment

seeds and forests.

[robbie]

they cut down the banana plants and the avocado tree in the lot beside ours. it was a billowing, growing wall of green. birds used to congregate there, wake us with their chattering and chirping, joining the soft morning breezes. only through gaps could you glimpse the city. now, besides some farther obstructions, we have a wide view of kigali. in the day it is the crawling, clustered monument of man’s planning and ingenuity; at night a terrestrial starscape. once crowded by rustling banana leaf ribbons, our front door stands open to the winds, the view. i stand above the city in the evenings and hear it breathe and sigh, hear its pulse; the cars, the music, the calls. all was blocked before. as we look to a coming two-year mark in rwanda, as i get to understand this city more and more now, i feel this opening, these sounds, are symbolic of a growing insight into the nature of this place,  its history and people and life. i miss the green, but now i have something new and beautiful to see. and really it was there all along.

i wrote the above paragraph a couple of months ago for a blog that was scrapped as it began. currently there is a brick wall greeting us out our front door, and we awake to the sounds of talking and radios and hammering. they are building a house.

———-

i am writing a book. i say this with a confidence beyond what i actually feel, but i have made serious progress on the project and thus i have enough confidence that it might actually become a reality someday. i have had this book idea for about two years now. it will be a conglomeration of stories from kiziba; a novelization of refugees’ life stories mixed with the history and growth of the camp, and the ongoing real struggles in modern-day kiziba.  it is a way for people to tell their stories, which can be a liberating experience, and a way to educate the world about refugees and refugee-causing conflicts. it will be advocacy and warning, history as well as an examination for the future of refugee affairs. it creates one story of great loss and how people cope and grow in difficult conditions, working towards a better world while in dark places.  we have hope that these stories can bring a more human face to the statistics and news flashes of horror.

writing has been an incredible experience, difficult and wonderful. the writing comes with highs of little daily triumphs and also deep emotional wastes.  to make these stories real i have to dig into them, describe them, put myself inside every character (read: real-life friend) and imagine the emotions: the fear, the joy, the sadness. it is one thing to hear these stories and think, man, that’s rough, what a sucky thing. i’m realizing it’s a whole other thing to detail all of the sucky things. maybe the events didn’t happen exactly like the way i write them, but they did happen. i’m not writing fiction, i am writing from an interview, and from experience as some of the stories to be included are still unfolding.

one such story is that of the state of education in the camp. as has been mentioned before, we are helping to support a secondary school started by refugees themselves as the last three years of secondary school are not officially offered in the camp. a group of refugees who had been supported through university outside of the camp came back and decided to fill that educational gap. for two years the school has operated, and it has been recently attracting some attention. some in high places who were once ambivalent or even opposed to the school are now supporters and actively want these students to succeed. and this initiative may be a part of why plans are moving forward to bring the last three years of secondary school – officially – to kiziba and the other camps in rwanda. it is entirely possible that, come the commencement of the new school year in january,  grade ten will be offered in kiziba, and next year grade 11, then grade 12, and students will be able to take the national exams and graduate. this is really a fantastic development. as one kiziba supporter puts it, this is an ‘example of how small seeds can grow forests.’ and international teams rwanda, having worked in kiziba for the last near-decade, will have a hand in making this happen. so if you want to financially help bring secondary education to thousands of refugees, let me know.

———-

i’m not ashamed to say that i have been listening to christmas music almost daily since mid september, when i started writing the book. i know all the songs so well that they blend together into perfect background writing music and the reflections on hope and peace are carrying me through the hardest parts of the stories. and listening to songs like this and this while i research the conflicts in drc and compile stories from my refugee friends is both beautiful and heart-breaking.

i recently taught a 2-day workshop on the basics of drawing at the library. some attended who knew how to draw and were quite good, some had never doodled in their life. the library was filled with young and old, males and females. we want the library to be a safe place where people have a number of outlets for learning and expression. to that end, we introduced a theme and had people come back the next week with a drawing based on that theme, which was stevie wonder’s song ‘someday at christmas,’ linked to above. we asked the students, what does it look like to see a world without bombs and war, where there is peace and men are equal and we understand what life is really worth? go to the link above and listen and scroll through the below pictures to see some of their visualizations of that possible future.

image7 image6 image5(1) image4 image3 image2 image1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment

the machineries of joy.

representatives of unhcr stopped by the kiziba community library recently. faithful assistant librarian johnson gave them the tour and answered their questions. they wanted a catalog of all our books (some several thousands) so that they might see what books we have and possibly help to acquire some books that we need. they also wanted to know when we will be getting electricity so they can give us the computers they have been keeping for us. we want that too.

there is a possibility that the unhcr might be able to strongly encourage another ngo office up the hill to run a wire and share their electricity with the library. but grodya and the others fear this might come with strings attached. they want to be free and operate on their own, using their own schedule, not whenever someone else decides to have the power on, and not to jump through any hoops to earn the use of that electricity. it would still not be possible to hold classes in the evenings. at best this would be a temporary solution. we need the freedom to do what we need to do and when we need to do it.

this summer was good for the solar power project. our friend conner visited us with that awesome group of friends from illinois back in january; he caught the vision and had the solar power project be the ministry cause of the week at a youth retreat in july. middle schoolers raised over two thousand dollars. we aren’t angry about that. in fact, that one fundraiser put us over the top of goal one, which is to send three refugee women to three months of solar power engineer training with the organization safer rwanda. they have been training women to install solar panels for years. there are women in this country who don’t know how to read but could bring solar power to your house. so we are pretty pumped about that opportunity.

the next step is finding the right women. we want this training to have the potential to open incredible doors for their futures, but we also need women who are going to be dedicated to the mission of iteams and jcm and willing to help at the library. so grodya and the jcm crew are recruiting. so far we have one signed up: soki.

soki was brought on as an assistant librarian at the suggestion of grodya’s wife this summer. she barely spoke a word of english in june, but she knew working at the library would be a great opportunity to study and attend the english classes. with visitors in late july she spoke enough english to give coherent tours of the camp and make some good friends. i had a couple friends with me to visit the camp a couple weeks ago and they helped with oral exams of the english class students. one of them, vanessa, sat down with soki and her evaluation was that soki needed some work with vocabulary and pronunciation. i said, five months ago she didn’t speak english. vanessa exploded in praise. five months?! that’s great for five months! we are pretty proud of soki and excited as to how this training could change her life for the better.

all that to say the push to bring solar power to kiziba community library is still on. we need to raise ten thousand more dollars at least to cover all the costs for materials and installation. this is a big, somewhat daunting project, but it is going to impact this community in remarkable ways.

i mean, would you stand for a library in your hometown that closed when it got dark? in northern hemisphere winters that would be awful and useless for anyone who worked a day job. but such is our reality; it is dark by 6.30 pm every day of the year. how would you feel to be denied access to computers simply because an ngo decided that you couldn’t use their computers? such is the reality for our secondary students.

we are responding to the initiative that is already in the camp, the movement started by the refugees themselves. they are already doing awesome things with the little they have, but the reality is they simply don’t have access to things – like electricity – that they need to move forward. we are helping to provide those invaluable resources so that the educators of kiziba can meet the educational standards of the rest of the world.

the headmaster of the refugee-run kiziba high school, oscar, has some great things to say about the community library. he says that he has seen it become a wonderful place for students to learn and read and study, especially those who are learning other languages. he says his teachers are using the library to expand their teaching materials and their own knowledge base. and he says that he has seen a change in his students since they have been using the library; they are less shy, they are more knowledgeable and more apt to share that knowledge in discussions, they are able to better analyze information and classwork. and i, as one who helps teach now and then, have seen this to be true. the students i taught last month seemed like a completely new group from those i taught in march.

oscar says that the library has become part of the solution to the problem of education they have in the camp. ‘for us to have access, rights, to education is the only key to help us in our lives.’ and we have the chance to greatly expand that impact, not just for secondary school students, but for the whole camp population.  give to the kiziba solar power project today and help change lives.

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment

tongues of fire.

[robbie]

working in youth and refugee ministry, community and international development over the years i have sometimes been witness to glorious moments when all sorts of big pieces fall into place for someone. maybe it comes with the knowledge that there is more to rome than tourism, or the sudden epiphany of seeing why a library is needed in a refugee camp, or the realization that ‘the least of these’ sometimes live just down the street.

i have seen some such moments over the last year as i have hosted eleven different groups visiting kiziba. i never thought this would be a key component of my job, but, as i have mentioned in earlier blogs, these visits kick off transformational projects, build friendships, awaken refugees and visitors alike to the realities of different parts of the world.

at the end of july we hosted a small team from canada, six women aged from seventeen to sixty-seven, from the same church that made the library-building a reality. they spent four full days in kiziba.

day one was meeting jcm, talks on the camp conditions, musical performances from henry and the girls’ drama team, extended camp tour, and the usual mandazi and fanta feast with as many people as could fit in the library. as we jostled in jeeps back down to kibuye that afternoon, the team was sunburned and tired but fueled with excitement over the new friends made and the possibilities for the next few days.

day two we had some impromptu lessons with the english class then a few hours with grodya’s daughter daniella who leads a group of young ladies, where they learn about the bible, about self-care and respect, and grow in community together. that day the team taught a bible lesson, the girls drew some beautiful pictures, and all ate, sang, and prayed together. afterwards, some of the team played games with random gathered kids while one of the team taught an inspiring lesson for the theology class.

day three saw two team members tag-team teaching a three-hour training session on the ins and outs of creating a business plan. we imagined a small group, maybe ten or fifteen, but we had seventy names on the sign-up list by the end of the day before and somehow crammed over seventy-three people into the library. the training went very well, we invited everyone back to present their business plans the next day, then ate and planned with the jcm team. during the morning class the rest of the team hung out and played with assorted groups of children and had a grand old time. we ended early that day so several of us could take the walk (hike) down to kibuye, another element of the refugee experience.

and on the last day the team broke up, paired up with jcm members to act as translators, and heard and judged over fifty business plans.

i sat with english teacher mapenzi and listened to nine business ideas, all different from each other and all plausible and good. it is hard for me to try to describe in words the intense swelling of hope and excitement at a number of detailed and genius plans, a procession of creativity and ingenuity. after the first half i was nearly school-boy giddy at the world of possibilities i could glimpse through their ideas and numbers scratched out on scrap paper. tomato gardens, training to grow mushrooms, a supplemental camp pharmacy, weaving beautiful baskets from strips of plastic, operating a small ‘cinema’ for kids during the school holidays, and much more. these people with a desire to learn and change their rough circumstances are opening windows and doors to something big. we don’t have the resources to make them all a reality, and some of the fifty plans need some serious work, but i think we all saw the rich potential, and solidified more the truth that not all refugees are sad, hopeless, and lazy, but there are many who actively want to change the way the camp exists. many people got that key element of the training that business isn’t about simply making money, but solving a problem. and this is especially true in a place like kiziba.

our debriefs at the end of each day often took tangents towards hopes for the future and ways to pull funds together for this or that, bring this or that person or business into the vision. and in those beautiful, exciting moments we see the bones and heart of international teams: bringing people together to help to oppressed.

i sat back on that thursday night over dinner and smiled while a flurry of ideas flew across the table, one feeding off the other, bursts of inspiration, thoughts forcing themselves into words faster than mouths could react. it was beautiful. and in that moment i could tell that after a few long and intense days working in the camp this small group of women from canada had fully caught the vision and hope of grodya, henry, mapenzi and the others, saw clearly why the library exists and how important it is quickly becoming, that they saw the needs and possible answers, saw that they could be conduits of change, catalysts, saw the lives that were being changed in vibrant and active ways.

yes, there is a buzz on missions trip that can die out quickly when back in one’s home country, but i have seen that the hope in kiziba is infectious and doesn’t easily leave people alone. i think this group is going to be instrumental in bringing some lasting change to kiziba.

image1 (9)

seventy-three people waiting for the business training to begin. we originally expected fifteen.

image2 (5)

kiziba kids teach canadian visitors some new dance games.

image3 (2)

females unite. the team had a great time hanging out with these awesome young women.

image4 (2)

the call-and-response the young women’s group says at their meetings is: ‘God is good…’ ‘…all the time.’ some things get lost in pronunciation.

image5

the team and jcm members say their tearful goodbyes at the emotional and triumphant end of that good, good week.

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment

we will all be changed, part two.

our friend grodya inspires me greatly. as a refugee from the democratic republic of congo, he has experienced his share of tough things. but the man has an incredible source of hope, a strange optimism that seeps into the air, infects for good those around him. he is realistic about the problems they face in the camp; yet he ever leans on the strength of our great God. he has seen drastic failures of humanity and is determined to see the victims of such failures become ever better, to rise above the mire of ignorance and self-perpetuating violence, to pursue peace. in short, to make a better world. he has an incredible ability to see connections and put into words and metaphors things nearly impossible to describe. and when he talks about it, i see it. the lion with the lamb, the swords beaten into tools. grodya is a visionary, a connector of people and ideas, a dreamer, and a believer. his words are below. they are history and hope, dreams of the future, and why it is important to expand the educational opportunities in kiziba.

Men, women, and children, young and old, have by the thousands been savagely cut down by murderous madness and selective barbarism. Because of a lack of land resources in their country of exile and a tedious resettlement process, the survivors are today stuck here and there in different refugee camps where their present and their future are, for nearly twenty years, stuck in a sticky mire called ‘kiziba,’ which means ‘marshy pond.’ They are grouped in villages on the slopes of muddy hills, in wretched slums, where 4m by 3m is the standard house size for a 7 person family.

‘In the beginning, the earth was formless and empty,’ say the Holy Scriptures, ‘And, darkness covering the abyss, God said: ‘Let there be light!’” (Genesis 1.3) and….

Kiziba Community Library IS…today.

…Whose motto is precisely ‘FIAT LUX!’ and whose aim is to try – like and with the state and humanitarian organizations working here – to bring a glimmer of hope to a people with a scarred and dark past, a gloomy present, and what may be a bleak tomorrow.

Through the organization of cultural activities, the aim is:

-to provide healthy leisure activities in order to protect children and youth against hedonistic entreaty and to reduce the high rate of violence linked to idleness and ignorance;

-to promote altruism, transparency, integrity, and tolerance in order to prevent humanitarian disasters so common in the African Great Lakes region.

In order to reach these goals, there are some ongoing and planned activities:

-reading

-artistic expression (drawing, painting, music, dance, writing, poetry)

-forum (talk sessions, movie debate, guest speakers)

-games and youth activities

-training (musical instruments, bible studies, English class, computer skills, artistic sewing)

One of the major challenges we face is how to attract towards books and learning a people that have almost no culture of reading. So it is imperative to organize attractive programs requiring sound systems, photocopier, radio, mixer, DVD player, computers, television, etc.

 And here can be understood the need of solar panels – safer than generators – for enabling the use of the above items. Of course while generating the energy that the aforesaid materials need, the solar panels will also enable the organization of evening recreational programs to the benefit of all, especially teachers and health care workers who can’t attend daytime programs due to work schedules.

11169248_1426725507633071_3698105367982557512_n

——————————

several weeks ago we were told about three students who were selected out of the refugee-run secondary school to attend a rwandan school outside of the camp. the three entered the school late in the term, right before exams. and on the exams those three refugees received the three highest scores in their class.

this gives us all great encouragement in a number of ways, but the main point to me is that the educators in the camp, those running the secondary school and the library – educators like grodya – are competent and qualified. they are dedicated to educating and transforming lives and are proving that they are good at it and are seeing results. and thus when we talk about the chance to expand the possibilities for education in the camp by bringing solar power to the library, we are not just dreaming. we know that the goals written above and the visions we have of the future are attainable.

with the proposed solar power project, we have three financial goals to meet.

-step one ($3,500): send three refugee women to solar panel engineer training for three months.

thanks to donors and a recent fundraiser among middle schoolers in illinois, this goal has been met! we are planning to send the refugees to training this fall. middle schoolers raised two thousand dollars for this project. middle schoolers. thus we are currently focused on raising funds for…

-step two ($9,500): purchase the solar panel materials and install them on the library.

-step three ($5,000): purchase educational and business materials to begin utilizing the newly acquired power to meet the above goals.

and this will only be possible with your help. consider being a part of this life changing project.

GIVE today and specify ‘kiziba solar power.’

Posted in the thousand hills | Leave a comment