Thank you everyone who contributed to my birthday fund for
the cow, schooling, and land for the Twirererabana!
by Janet Reineck
My 60th birthday wish last August was for donations to purchase a cow and land for our unwed mother cooperative, the Twirererabana (“Let Us Raise Our Children”). The community is in the mountains, up a rough, eroded dirt road, three hours north of Kigali. Most of the members are impoverished young women who became pregnant when they gave sex in exchange for food, a piece of clothing, or money. The fathers wouldn’t take responsibility for the children, so, slowly, these girls found each other and banded together to keep themselves and their children alive. They started with just a few members in June of 2013. Their numbers grew, some widows joined them, and now there are 350 adults and 170 children in the cooperative.
In 2014, World Dance gave them 20 goats and sponsored two women to finish high school. They have a dream to expand their livestock and farming enterprises to support all the families and send all the children to school. As an unwed mother myself, when we visited the group in July of 2014, I felt a deep connection with the inspired, courageous young leader, Oliva Iwambabazi, and all the other women we met.
Thanks to the generosity of family, friends, and World Dancers, my birthday outreach yielded $6,000, and we were able to buy a cow for the women (named “Merilyn,” after my mother), send six young women to high school (the Remera Mbogo boarding school, 45 min from their village), and purchase a parcel of land they could farm to sustain the community. Needless to say, this turned into the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
The women have been trying since last summer to find the right piece of land.
Finally, on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, they purchased the land, and are…ecstatic!
The women were given several names to choose from that would honor my mother. They chose, “Toyopa,” the name of the street where she raised her family in the Pacific Palisades (a suburb of Los Angeles).
(Click to full screen on the videos to see captions)
From Justin: We thank God that the Twirererabana women finally they have this beautiful, big land, 3,821 square metres [nearly an acre]. There is a house on it which will accommodate one of the members who was homeless and serve as 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.