In October of 2017, Permagarden training expert Thomas Cole traveled to Rwanda to teach his simple but highly effective farming techniques to five of our cooperatives, who, in turn, will be sharing their new knowledge with our other co-ops to provide a more bountiful harvest for all. The project is called “Sydney’s Seeds,” in honor of Sydney Baumgartner, a well-known Santa Barbara Master Landscaper.
Author Archive | janet
In 2008, 30 impoverished Rwandan families founded the Kungabu Cooperative near Lake Kivu, envisioning a collective enterprise that would sustain all of the members: the farming of Tilapia fish. We began our assistance to the Kungabu in 2013 by donating cows, helping the young people go to school, and offering training in agriculture, co-op management, and business. We learned that in order to grow the Tilapia big enough to sell commercially, they needed expensive fish food pellets that could only be acquired in Uganda. But no machines of this kind were available for purchase in Africa. Our only viable option was to have the machine built in China and shipped to Rwanda via Tanzania. Thus began the odyssey of the Fish Food machine.
Carpinteria’s Crafty Ladies were busy again last spring producing REUSABLE MENSTRUAL PAD KITS for the women in our cooperatives. The kits were made with loving care and hand-carried by Festo and Odile, Rwandan students attending Westmont College here in Santa Barbara.The kits were distributed by our Rwanda Team to three of our Cooperatives which are all part of Never Again Fellowship:
In honor of Mother’s Day last May, our World Dancers and supporters donated a total of $6,000 to purchase 120 mattresses for women in Rwanda who have been sleeping on thin mats on the ground their whole lives. The mattresses went to three of our Cooperatives: Copakika (Kigali Co-op), Komera (Courage), and Umunezero (Joy). We recently received a beautiful report on the mattress delivery from Justin, our Rwanda Program Director. Thank you so much to everyone who helped bring this simple but life-changing gift to these women and their families!
On February 20, 2017, a young girl named Violette appeared at the door of Justin Bisengimana, our Rwanda Program Director, with a tragic story about her family. Her father had survived the Genocide, but lost all his siblings and family members. Violette’s mother was very sick, and her father sold their house, land, and possessions to bring his wife to the hospital in Kigali and move the family there. Sadly, their mother died, and the money ran out. The father suffered a serious breakdown and is unable to care for his children. Justin took the children to Ejo Habo, the orphanage run by his mother, which is one of the communities supported by World Dance for Humanity. Not long after this, his mother found an abandoned baby outside her door. She suddenly had 11 additional children to care for.
Critical to the success of our community-run businesses in Rwanda is the three-day Business Training we host each spring. This year’s Training was sponsored by Proctor and Gamble Alumni Foundation through Betsy Stivers, a P&G alumna, engineer, World Dancer, and the Chair of our Business Committee. Sixty co-op leaders from across the country attended the three-day training held in Kigali. The experience has a profound impact on all the participants. After completing the course, the participants returned to their communities with new knowledge and skills that will help their businesses grow and their communities develop. The Training also deepened the bond between the co-op members, our Rwanda team, and World Dance for Humanity. It is this bond which is giving them the confidence to build a future with high aspirations and the tools to achieve them.
Menstruation is a vexing problem for women and girls in poor countries all over the world. It is also a taboo subject in many societies, which means that very little has been done to provide an effective product for women instead of the old rags, bark, and leaves they’ve been using or disposal pads they can’t afford. World Dance for Humanity is bringing a sustainable solution, REUSABLE CLOTH PADS, to the women we work with in Rwanda. Here’s how it all got started…
Fresh Fritters, Anyone? Located in the remote mountains of northern Rwanda, the Abishyizehamwe (“United People”) Cooperative was founded in 2011 by 25 poor farmers, mostly women. They couldn’t afford livestock or fertilizer and were struggling to survive on their meager crops. In 2012 they went to World Vision for help, but didn’t receive funding because […]
There are many government-owned major water pipes that run throughout Rwanda, but they don’t reach the remote rural communities. Ruganeheza decided to build a pipeline that would connect to the government’s water supply, allowing water to flow directly to their community. This is something the government supports and encourages, as it allows them to get water to more people. In addition to the pipes, Ruganeheza constructed a water housing structure, equipped with several faucets, from which they can now sell water – at a very reasonable rate – to local communities.
The people we support in Rwanda endured unimaginable suffering and hardship during the Genocide and in its aftermath. They overcame fear, isolation, and hopelessness by joining a cooperative and working with their fellow co-op members to stay alive. It is such a privilege to be working with these incredibly courageous human beings. Thank you for helping us give them the chance to rebuild their lives. Here are six of their stories.
In 2016, WD4H sent $123,986 in aid to Rwanda. None of this went to salaries or administrative expenses – every dollar went to the projects, resulting in extraordinary progress in the communities we serve. By the end of January, WD4H will be helping 8,400 people in 25 Rwandan communities lift themselves out of crushing poverty.
“It was so amazing to see how all the students participated at the training. They shared so many ideas and asked such important questions. We could see that they are already leaders, already applying their leadership skills into their lives.” Justin Bisengimana
Just before the holidays we delivered mattresses to our co-ops which were purchased with donation from World Dance for Humanity. Many of the co-op members have never owned or even slept on a mattress, and some of them are in their 70s. We hope the photos and video can tell you how life-changing this was for them.
In 2016, All Saints by the Sea in Montecito, California, donated three cows to Imbereheza (Better Future), a cooperative in Eastern Rwanda made up of formerly warring Tutsi, Hutu, and Pygmies dedicated to living in peace together. The cows will provide fertilizer to improve crop production, and milk – which these people have never had before. The cows will change the lives of every co-op member forever, and will be cherished by the community.
This past summer, 11 World Dancers and friends spent two weeks in Rwanda. It was an incredible trip that brought us closer to each other, and to the people we are working with there. We documented the entire experience so we could share it with you. Please – sit back, relax, and enjoy the intimacy and emotion of this journey.
On July 12th, eleven World Dancers returned from an extraordinary two-week visit to Rwanda – more passionate than ever about the people we are serving there and the work we are doing together. The trip was very rough, extremely intense, and completely amazing. We spent almost all of our time in the villages… hugging, dancing wildly, and talking with the people about their lives. The changes we are seeing in each community are truly remarkable. Our contributions have given them the means to create a sustainable income and the confidence they need to envision and plan for the future. The experience we had belongs to everyone in the WD4H community. We are on this journey together – helping people survive, and succeed…one step at a time.
The Cyangugu region in southwestern Rwanda is one of the poorest in the country. The people depend on subsistence farming and the meager wages they earn working on tea plantations owned by Indian companies to survive. In an effort to lift themselves out of poverty, 30 families in the area near Lake Kivu decided to pool their labor to form a farming cooperative in 2008. They had a vision to start a business that would sustain all of the members: the farming of Tilapia fish. They named themselves, “Kungabu” which means “The Fish Farmers.
“An anthropologist, an English teacher, a cook, a writer, a traveler, a lawyer, a tennis player, a photographer, a surfer, an urban farmer, and a firefighter all board a plane to Rwanda… This is the beginning of an extraordinary journey full of heart, soul, and service to humanity – commencing in 4 days! The deep love and support we will bring with us into these Rwandan communities will join together with their open arms and vibrant celebration to create one giant lovefest! There will be so much to learn, so much to witness, so much to celebrate, and so many to embrace in the land of one thousand hills.” (Click “Subscribe” on this page to follow the journey!)
“This is really happening! Today we packed some of the many donations that we will be bringing with us on our adventure: from soccer balls to school supplies, frisbees to fancy socks, T-shirts to toothbrushes! We are each allowed 2 checked bags, and those will be filled to the max with gifts for the 7500 people that we support. It will be amazing to meet each of these individuals face to face. Their story is sad, but they are rising up out of the ashes to build stronger communities, while striving to overcome extreme poverty and limited resources. I am humbled by their strength against such adversity. Can’t wait to get there, and hit the ground dancing.”
Meet Team Rwanda 2016: Annetta, Brett, Bryan, Danna, Debra, Fran, Genevieve, Janet, Jeremy, Katrina, and Olga!
On March 18, 2016 Murindi Women’s Cooperative received two full-grown pregnant cows donated by two World Dance supporters, Ken and Sharon. Ken’s donation was a Christmas gift to his grandchildren, who named their cow “Faith.” Sharon’s donation came from her Soulscape dancers from San Diego, who have now given FOUR cows to our Rwanda communities. Sharon named their cow “May,” which is the middle name of her mother, mother-in-law, daughter, and new baby granddaughter.
Leona was the very first cow for this Co-op in Eastern Rwanda. Donor Arlene Satterlee gave this cow as a Christmas gift to all of her grandchildren, and named it after her Grandmother. Most of Co-op members are women, and they have been dreaming of having a cow for a very long time. “We felt it was a shame not to have a cow while other communities had cows. But we had a dream that one day it would happen. For us, a cow is the symbol of prosperity and peace. We thank you so much our donors for having taken us to this important level in our lives. Our prayers are answered and we hope this is the beginning of our miracles in raising cows.”
Announcing the Grand Opening of “DIGNITY CAFE” The Twirererabana Cooperative in northern Rwanda was founded by a group of unwed mothers who had been rejected by the babies’ fathers and by their own families. They formed a Cooperative in 2013 to help each other survive. They dreamed of becoming farmers and sending their children to school, […]
Imagine trying to sleep on a thin mat made from papyrus or banana leaves. That’s what 102 mothers in our Rwandan communities do each night. This Mother’s Day, World Dance for Humanity is raising funds to buy mattresses (at $50 each) for these women. Honor the mothers in your life by giving a woman halfway around the world a chance to wake up rested and ready to take on the survival challenges she faces each day.
LET US ALL LIVE The Tubehotwese (“Let Us All Live”) Cooperative in northeastern Rwanda was founded in 2007 by 12 widows and their families determined to survive by pooling their labor and meager resources. With help from World Dance for Humanity, the community has grown to 413 people, and is getting stronger each year. The […]
On April 9, 2016, 18 World Dancers embarked on an inspiring, poignant day together, bringing love and connection to wheel-chair bound seniors and disabled adults in our community. It was a day full of heart and humanity for us all.
Santa Barbara’s Westside Boys & Girls Club serves more than 100 children each day after school. Many of the kids are barely passing their subjects in school, and the Club is trying hard to give them the support they need to turn this around. They are severely short-staffed and need volunteers to work with the children. World Dance for Humanity is stepping up to fill this need by providing after-school volunteers. We’re also opening a window into the world for these children by nurturing a relationship between their Club and Rwanda. For two years, they have been sponsoring Clarisse, one of our Rwandan students. A few weeks ago, we shared a video of Clarisse’s life in her Rwandan village. It was VERY eye-opening for the children, who are making a video about their own lives to share with Clarisse!
This 10-minute video – gleaned from raw footage Justin sent us from Rwanda last week – is the first glimpse we have had into how our students live when they’re at home in their villages. Featuring: Celine (sponsored by Celina Hunt), Peninah (sponsored by Christy Morse), and Clarisse (sponsored by the Westside Boys and Girls Club).
“Well-behaved women rarely make history!” This slogan on Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s T-shirt summed up the spirit of activism, connection, and empowerment we all felt on Sunday, when we joined the world in protesting violence against women. We are grateful to the SB Rape Crisis Center for hosting the event, and to Senator Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams for “Breaking the Chain” with us!
On the morning of January 18th, 20 World Dancers traded their raincoats for jingles, and joined with the community in Santa Barbara’s annual MLK tribute. Below are some impressions of the wonderful experience we shared together. Thank you Tom Spadoro, Grace Spadoro, Jacob Yinger, Rob Hoffman, and Hugh Brown, and Lida Paradisi for the wonderful pics and videos!
Thanks to our dancers and our family of supporters, in 2015 World Dance for Humanity was able to send $91,195 in assistance to Rwanda, provide $4,001 in emergency aid to earthquake victims in Nepal, and reach out to people in need throughout Santa Barbara. A generous grant from one of our dancers covered all of our administrative costs, so that EVERY DOLLAR raised could be used to help the people we serve.
Those of you who were in class Feb. 7th met SADIK KADRIJAJ, a young Albanian man from Kosova (former Yugoslavia) who was the subject of a documentary in the Santa Barbara film festival, “A Single Frame.” In this report, you’ll see how his visit made it possible for three of our Rwandan high school students to attend school in 2016!
Huge thanks to the 10 incredible musicians who gave us the best dance party EVER! We raised $1,037 to buy a full-grown, pregnant cow for the Tubehotwese (“Let Us All Live”) Co-op in Rwanda. It’s the first cow these impoverished farmers have ever had, and will provide milk for the community and manure for their crops. An ecstatic dance night – life changing for the people we serve!
WD4H Board Chair Peter Haslund: “OK, here is the question of the day: How can so many people have so much fun doing so much good and bringing so much joy to so many people who truly benefit from these efforts?”
World Dancer Christy Morse found two 6th grade teachers, Kim Gevirtz and Dave Carter, with the imagination and spirit to embark on a wonderful partnership with a Rwandan school. The children are so excited about the connection! They’re coming up with great ideas about ways to share their stories and their lives – via video, Skype and letters. See their amazing first Skype together…
World Dancer Jackie Pruitt is working with Club Director Priscilla Hernandez on the children’s sponsorship of Clarisse, a Rwandan high school student. Christy Morse also volunteers at the Club most afternoons, helping the kids with basic skills. In October we showed them videos of Rwandan children and they were SO curious about their lives. In November, the children wrote 51 LETTERS to Clarisse! Here are a few letters and photos:
Last weekend, Justin traveled to the Twa (Pygmy) community in Southwest Rwanda. He visited the three beautiful cows donated by All Saints by the Sea, and shared with us a few photos and a few minutes of video from a spontaneous little visit with the children who were keeping Holy Cow company…
The Murindi Cooperative, located just outside of Kigali in central Rwanda, was founded by 40 widows – survivors of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, who formed a cooperative in 2012 to pool their efforts and resources in order to stay alive. The community has grown to a population of 220. The women have a lively entrepreneurial spirit and want to create a sustainable livelihood by starting a micro-dairy. Last July WD4H raised $3,000 for three cows they need to get the business going through a Causevox online campaign. The cows were delivered on October 27, 2015. Murindi women are so joyous, and so grateful for this incredible gift which gives them the foundation for a sustainable community business.
Many members of our Cooperatives cannot afford their annual health insurance premium of $4.69/year. Each year, World Dance for Humanity makes a donation to cover this cost for the folks in greatest need especially those with AIDS. This year we’re covering this cost for 650 Co-op members, at a total cost of $3,050. We are deeply grateful to World Dancer Jojo Barker and her husband David for covering the cost of this entire program for the year. So far, the health cards for 336 members have been paid for – and they are ECSTATIC about it!
Justin: “No words can express our thanks to Janelle who sponsored this course which has given our Cooperative members knowledge that is critical to their livestock raising and their livelihoods. Lives are going to be transformed as the livestock management evolves, thanks to what the participants have learned. The participants came from all over the country – from Cyangugu [in the southwest by the Burundi/Congo border], from the northeast [on the border with Uganda] and from remote areas in central Rwanda. The connection these people made, and experiences they shared, will be important into their development.”
Generous donations from WD4H supporters Clare, Gayle, Maria Teresa, Peter, Sigrid, Victoria, and our World Dance class fees enabled us to deliver 16 goats to the Komera (Courage) Cooperative this month. We have given a total of 128 goats to this cooperative, so each family now has a goat. This means they have a reliable income source to pay for food, health care, school tuition for the younger children, and other basic necessities. Get to know these women and see what they have to say about this changes in their lives:
In the wake of the deadly Nepal earthquake last April, World Dance for Humanity supporters stepped up to help bring aid to a hard-hit village in the Himalayas through Friends of Himalayan Sherpa People. The organization sent us this report and a thank you for aid we provided.
During the first week of August, 2015, World Dance for Humanity hosted the first in a series of Veterinary Trainings for the Cooperatives we work with in Rwanda. Jane, Komera Cooperative: “Our lives have been so transformed since we connected with our dear dancers and sisters. We are going to set a very good examples in our community. The knowledge we acquire from this training will bring miracles in our livestock. We had a thousand questions but they are all answered and we can simply see the direction in which we are going to take our livestock program for a sustainable development. We can do all this because our friends and donors from WD. So many thanks to them.”
Photos I asked one of our new World Dance interns, Genevieve, to write a few sentences on her experience of last Sunday’s flashmob. This is what she sent. I had to share it. The sun was shining, the music was blaring, the cars were honking, and the people were clapping, but our feet were far […]
The Twiyubake Women’s Cooperative was founded in 2008 as part of the larger Never Again Fellowship in eastern Rwanda. The women have an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit with experience making traditional handcrafts which they sell in the local market. The women came up with a plan to expand their enterprise by producing machine-knitted and sewn apparel. In April 2014, WD4H supporter Kathy Bart sponsored the business, which opened in May of 2015. The women continue to produce their handcrafts, while spearheading the new sewing/knitting business in their community!
Justin: “There are so many reasons for these people to be overjoyed! Everybody who knows the history of the Twa in Rwanda has reason to celebrate! It’s hard to believe these are the same people who had no other choice but hunting, and were living in such poverty. Donors, lives are being transformed because of your big hearts!”
Last Thursday, our evening class had a “field trip” to a Summer Concert in the Park featuring Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries, one of the top 50s & 60s Rock ‘n Roll band. We danced our socks off, to fantastic music, on a beautiful evening. Ah……….
On June 26, 2015, three full-grown, pregnant cows were delivered to the Twa (Pygmy) community we work with in southwestern Rwanda on the border with Burindi. Says Justin, our Rwanda Program Director, “The people were truly overjoyed. If it was possible they would have carried the cows on their backs!”