Santa Barbara & Mukarange – Sister Cities!
Santa Barbara has 7 Sister Cities: Dingle, Ireland; Kotor, Montenegro; Patras, Greece; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Manila, Philippines; Toba City, Japan; and Weihai, China. We have proose a new Sister City relationship, with Mukarange, Rwanda. This will be Santa’s Barbara’s 8th Sister City, the first one in Africa! This is going to be an exciting project with wonderful possibilities for relationship-building, and we’re inviting community members to take part. Please Contact Janet if you’re interested!
Mukarange is the capital of the Kayonza District in Eastern Rwanda – the “banana capital” of Rwanda – with a total population of 29,000. It is the hub of many trade and crafts people, and has a number of schools. Most significantly, it is at the center of “Never Again Fellowship” – a group of 9 rural cooperatives we work with that are focused on reconciliation and forgiveness between the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa (Pygmies) – the three ethnic groups who committed or were the victims of unspeakable atrocities during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. These communities have vowed “never again” to Genocide.
We have helped them in all aspects of their development – livestock, training, education, and business – and they are thriving! The original 12 members have grown to 4,000 people organized into the 9 cooperatives. Quietly, without fanfare, Never Again is setting an example for the world. This makes Mukarange a very special place in the world, as it is the hub of these reconciliation communities. Because so much of our work takes place in and around Mukarange, our Rwanda Team has a very close relationship with their city officials, who are very excited about the potential partnership with Santa Barbara. We have many ideas for activities that will connect our communities and bring deep levels of awareness and understanding to all who participate.
The lists below show some of our ideas for visits, joint projects, and humanitarian assistance projects:
- Relationship-building between Nyamirama Secondary School and one of our local high schools – Pen-pals, joint art projects, student visits and exchanges
- Initial and ongoing media outreach announcing the new Sister City
- Rwanda cultural night and fundraiser, open to the public, featuring guest speakers from Rwanda
- Fundraisers for humanitarian aid projects in Mukarange (e.g. refurbishing a school or health clinic)
- Murals/statues designed in partnership between SB and Mukarange
- Rwanda photo exhibit
- Rwanda entry in the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival (designed by Mukarange artists)
- Rwandan dance and music entry in the Solstice parade
- Matching grants from SB community organizations such as Women’s Clubs and Rotary
- SB-Mukarange website with abundant photos and videos to raise awareness about each other
- Reconciliation and Peace-Building: Workshops with the communities around Mukarange that were able to move beyond their tortured past, reconcile the conflicts between them, forgive each other, and rebuild their lives
- Humanitarian Aid: Visits with the rural cooperatives we are working with: the Never Again communities near Mukarange, and elsewhere in Rwanda – the Ejo Habo orphans, Kungabu fish farmers on the border with DRC (Congo), the Twa (Pygmies) on the Burundi border, the Tubehotwese nursery school on the Ugandan border, etc.
- Wildlife: a visit to Akagera National Park, a wildlife preserve near Mukarange, the home of zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos, black rhinos, lions, and hundreds of bird species
- Gorillas: Rwanda is one of the three places in the world where mountain gorillas can be seen – this would be a special pre- or post-trip add-on