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.
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 […]
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).
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.
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:
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.”
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!”
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!”
In April of 2014, the Tubeho co-op in the mountains of central Rwanda received a loan from World Dance to start a bakery. We were thrilled to announce the opening of the business on April 28, 2015 – which will mean new, sustainable livelihood for all. We just received these photos that show the bakery in full swing! What joy!
On Saturday, May 16th, our Rwanda Team delivered 25 goats to the Twirererabana women in their remote village in the mountains above Kigali. This cooperative was founded in 2013 by Oliva, who brought together other unwed mothers to help each other survive. World Dance for Humanity is a solid partner in the development of these […]
On Saturday, May 17th, World Dancers visited elderly and disabled folks in Santa Barbara, bringing SWING music to the seniors and ROCK N’ ROLL to the young adults. As they took our hands, their faces slowly brightened, the music lifted them, and we shared amazing moments of affection and connection.erly and disabled folks in Santa Barbara, bringing SWING music to the seniors and ROCK N’ ROLL to the young adults. As they took our hands, their faces slowly brightened, the music lifted them, and we shared amazing moments of affection and connection.
Can you smell the aroma of warm baked goods wafting from Rwanda? The Tubeho (“Let Us Live”) Cooperative started thinking about building a bakery in 2010, with the only dependable source of baked goods 90 minutes away in Kigali. In April of 2014 they received a loan from a World Dancer to rent a small house to use as a shop, build an oven, purchase materials and equipment, and hire an experienced baker to teach them the trade. On April 28, 2015, the community celebrated the official opening of the bakery!
“Donors, you are the reason of our joy…” The week before Easter, World Dance raised $10,620 through an online campaign to purchase 236 goats for the Genda Ugire Utyo (“Go and Do That”) Cooperative in Eastern Rwanda. We are so grateful to everyone who took part! On April 24th, the community welcomed their goats, with amazement! They couldn’t believe this miracle had happened in their lives.
“What a joyful time to be sitting in the midst of these animals. This is the time we have been waiting for. This is going to help us keep our name, ‘Those Who Never Give Up.’ We were so hopeless after our first disappointment and we thought things shouldn’t rise up again, but we are ready to move as we are already given strength to help us move. These goats are more than just a walking stick on a slippery way, they are simply our life-changing means.” Martha Mukambonera
WD4H supports 20 cooperatives in far-flung regions of Rwanda. The co-ops are becoming a wonderful resource for each other, offering knowledge and experience they have acquired – about farming, livestock, and co-op management. In April, Abadacogora visited Cokawi to learn about how they take care of their milk goat, and learned many more things!
Every April, the country of Rwanda dedicates a full week to a solemn remembrance of the 1994 Genocide that left 1 million people dead and a country in ruins. The country is now working together for a peaceful, productive future. World Dance for Humanity is honored to be partnering with 20 rural Rwandan communities as they build a new life. See our Remembrance Video in sisterhood with the Rwandan people.
THANK YOU – MURAKOZE! On March 22, 2015, World Dance for Humanity launched its first online campaign. We set a goal to raise $11,970 to buy 266 full-grown, pregnant goats for two Rwandan communities: 236 goats for Genda Ugire Utyo, 30 goats for Twirererabana. Thanks to our supporters around the country, we reached our goal, […]
From Justin: “We thank God that the Twirererabana women finally they have this beautiful, big land. This new land has a house on it which will accommodate one of the members who was homeless. It will be their meeting place while working the land. This land has cow grass planted on its edges and Twirererabana will no longer buy cow grass to feed their cow, Merilyn. Surely, I have never seen Twirererabana members with such a joy. Everything was very new for them this day.”
On February 18, 2015, the Tubehotwese Cooperative in the northeast tip of Rwanda, opened their new kindergarten, funded by World Dancers, Sherry Robin. The Cooperative had been planning this project for several years, as a way to get their young ones ready for grammar school, and as a source of income.
“Am I really the one owning this big goat? It is a great honor in my family that from today onward we are part of livestock owners. We will get money and fertilizer from this goat and our lives are going to be transformed. If you think I am dreaming, visit me after a few months.” Jeannette Uwambaje
Look what we accomplished together! We are so grateful to our growing community of dancers and donors for your support and involvement in 2014! You have made it possible for World Dance for Humanity (WD4H) to bring life-changing assistance to the 20 communities we are serving in Rwanda, and lend a hand here at home.
Justin Bisengimana: “Education is the key to changing the world. I wish words would be enough to express my gratitude toward all contributors to our WD4H 2014 Education Fund. We had no idea how this money could be raised, but you made it happen! You made a way for 132 young people to pursue their dreams. Please try to feel how impactful your sponsorship is in their lives.
Justin: There was no way we could have ever imagined what has happened with this community. They have come out of their isolated world and experienced a sense of real community, of loving and being loved, celebrating and being celebrated. I was so much excited about their dream of coming to Kigali to meet the Cokawi co-op and see what they have achieved. They have done such a huge work together and it was not just taking out weeds but they also expanded their relationships while working together.
With all 2014 donations in, we can now share the final results of our Thriller and year-end fundraising efforts. Our (lofty!) 2014 goal was $35,000 for the Rwanda Education Fund and local charities. (The Thrill for Humanity video below says we raised $23,000. That’s old news!) Thanks to our AMAZING dancers and donors, the final amount raised was…
On December 10, 2014, something extraordinary happened in Rwanda: 93 of the high school and college students sponsored by World Dance for Humanity traveled from all over Rwanda to take part in a life-changing three-day Leadership Training in Kayonza, in the East of the country. The goal of the training was to give the students a sense of purpose and direction as FUTURE LEADERS of their cooperatives, and acquaint them with the notion of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, the potential for creating their own source of income that will benefit their community.
On June 25, 2014, seven World Dancers traveled to Rwanda to get to know the 20 communities we are serving there. We recently completed a video of the trip. We hope it will give you a sense of the place, the people, and the role of World Dance for Humanity in their lives.
On September 11th, Justin delivered 40 goats (paid for by World Dancers and donors) to new members of the Tubehotwese cooperative in northeast Rwanda who have no land, no livestock, nothing to sustain them. Says Justin: “We are helping poor communities lift themselves out of their extreme poverty with the principle that everyone, no matter which social or economic status, has to own their change process and be responsible of it, this is how what we call ‘inside-out change’ is possible.”
Five of the cooperatives we serve in Rwanda were formed by people with AIDS who banded together to help each other survive. We have been helping each of these groups with livestock and other community support, which now includes healthcare. This summer WD4H sent $1,540 from class proceeds and donations to give 76 families (with 366 family members) access to healthcare.
I just turned 60, and my birthday wish was for help in purchasing a cow and a piece of land for the Twirererabana (“Let Us Raise Our Children”) cooperative in Rwanda. Guess how much we raised!
Together, Goats for Life and World Dance for Humanity have donated 23 full grown, pregnant cows to the communities we are helping in Rwanda. These cows have given birth to a total of 31 calves and are producing milk for the children and fertilizer for the crops.
In April of 2014, a World Dancer and her family made it possible for our Twa community to start a sewing business. When we visited the group in June, eight treadle sewing machines had just arrived. The members were so excited, and so proud to be embarking on business to sustain their community!
On July 8, 2014, seven World Dancers traveled to the mountains north of Kigali to visit the Abishyizehamwe Cooperative and get to know their community. We timed it to be there for the delivery of 30 goats, paid for during the Spring by World Dancers and supporters. It was a bit wild and totally great to be part of this!
Thanks to a generous gift from a World Dance supporter, the Cokawi project is underway! An agriculture adviser has visited and developed plans with the community. A group of laborers is now working with the women to “tame” their marshland.
On July 10th, seven World Dancers returned from our visit to Rwanda, exhausted, inspired, and happy in the knowledge that work we are doing in the 20 communities we are serving in Rwanda is the right work to be doing, and is helping each group carve a future for themselves.
Sherry continues her travels in Rwanda before meeting up with the rest of the World Dancers. Janet, Debra, and Danna join Justin for breakfast in Kigali.
In May, Justin visited the Joy cooperative to deliver the wonderful news that World Dance has raised $4,500–collected from class proceeds and donations–for their farming project. With the money they will purchase a two-acre parcel of land and materials to build a cow shed so they can sustain themselves with a milk business.
…”there’s a splash of magic that occurs and voila, dresses and shorts surprisingly appear in faraway lands in Africa. With the collaboration of World Dance for Humanity, the sewing ladies of the Carpinteria Community Church and the Carpinteria Rotary, dresses and shorts will be delivered to children Rwanda this month. How lucky are we?”