Photos: Left, arriving at the orphanage / Right, the orphans today
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. Violette is the oldest of ten children. Her father had survived the Genocide, but lost all his siblings and family members. Violette’s mother was very sick, and none of the local doctors could help her. Her father sold their house, land, and all of their possessions to raise the money 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.
Alone and unable to pay rent, the children were evicted from the room they were staying in, and went to a neighbor who kept them for one night. This neighbor knew about Justin’s humanitarian work, and brought the children to him. The next day, Justin took them 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.
In March, World Dance for Humanity set out to raise funds for the immediate needs of these children, and to create income-generating projects to sustain the orphanage into the future. Thanks to the generosity of our dancers and donors, we reached our goal within a week! Here’s the breakdown of the funds raised:
- $2,088: Clothing, beds, bedding, health insurance, and toiletries for a year, food for 3 months
- $2,650: Tuition for the 2017 school year which started in January
- $1,350: 30 Full-grown pregnant goats for Ejo Habo
- $2,300: Ellen’s Pig Farm – 4 females, 1 male, and a pen (donated by Kathy Bart, named for her mother)
It was clear Justin’s mother couldn’t take care of the 22 orphans at Ejo Habo, the animals, and the crops, so Justin found a local farmer named Jean Bosco who, for $50 a month, now oversees the farm. One of our dancers, Marcia Warrecker, is covering his salary.
Our Student Sponsors are making it possible for 19 of the orphans to attend school.
We have helped Odilla (one of the college students at Ejo Habo who is also President of the cooperative) attend training in Uganda to start a business producing Reusable Menstrual Pads with her fellow orphans.
And we are helping with medical care for two of the children – an older girl who was hospitalized for stomach ailments, and a young girl who has malaria.
With all of these enterprises underway, the future of the orphans is secure!
(See photos, below!)
JUSTIN TO KATHY: After learning about your amazing gift from Janet, I called my mother and she could not believe what I was telling her. She is overjoyed! She and the orphans have been waiting such a long time for this. They almost gave up hope. This will not just be an income source for them, it will give them so much confidence in their development. The orphans are so committed in making this a successful business, I am sure you will not be disappointed. We already have you in our hearts because of all you have done for our communities. Your donation for the Pig Farm is beyond our imagination. I’m saying this as someone who has had this business idea for a long time, and who knows where it will take the orphans. Our hearts are sending so much love and gratitude to Kathy. Thank you, Kathy Bart, for making such a change in the lives of these children. I am already in tears! God bless you!
MARCIA TO JUSTIN: I am keenly committed to this one-of-kind humanitarian service. I am a farmer not only at heart, but also in practice. Until I was six, I spent summers helping my grandma in her vegetable garden on their Michigan farm. As a young mother, I worked with my family on our California dairy farm. When I moved back to Santa Barbara, I soon had six young sons to feed, so I took Bio-intensive horticulture courses and was able to raise ample produce for all of us. As I teacher of learning disabled children, I promoted and built school gardens and developed curriculum. So there you have it! I’m at your service, Justin! I am delighted to be able to support this farmer. The young orphans will grow and prosper now!
JUSTIN TO MARCIA: Your own farming story has inspired and taught me a lot. That is what I call “keeping our roots stronger.” Never forget your background. We all know what it means in Rwanda to get a help in farming – especially for the orphans. Support from a farmer to farmers will mean a lot! Investing in children is to invest in the future of any nation. This is what you are doing by helping us make sure their farming will be a success!