Monday, 31 August 2015

Things are moving on...

The roof will go on before the rainy season starts
During our visit to the village this time it became very apparent to me that the need for instruction in basic sanitation and health issues was a priority. I think some of you will know that one of our little girls in the nursery died just a few days before our visit. She was almost four years old and her name was Joyeuse. There are still problems with fresh water supplies and Joyeuse became ill with sickness and diarrhoea. The nearest nurse and health post is a two hour walk away and it was just not possible to save her. The next day two of her brothers were taken to the health post and fortunately they survived. There are no facilities in the village for any type of medical care, no medicines, no painkillers, no malaria treatment. In addition some families are not boiling the water for drinking purposes. The need for parents to be educated in these things is critical.
Lots of other exciting things happened which I will continue to write about in the blog. However my main purpose in sending out this newsletter at this time is to inform you that we are now a Registered Charity, Village Rwanda UK and so have a new bank account!! In doing this Ive been supported by five other trustees their profiles are on the blog. We are currently working on our Business Plan and I want to assure you that 100% of the money that you provide will continue to be spent on the children and families so that the village will become self-sustaining by 2020. This is our aim and will remain our aim. We are a national UK charity working with a local Rwanda charity (NGO, Non-Governmental Organisation) called Gihombo ForwardWe work closely with them because they know what is best for their community and how it can be achieved.
So, folks, if you want to donate you can transfer money easily to our new bank account as follows:  
The Co-operative Bank
Name of account: Village Rwanda UK
Sort code: 08 92 99
Account number: 65765678

One big advantage is that we can now claim gift aid. I am attaching a Gift Aid form for you to complete and return to Chris Park our Treasurer either by email or post (for those replying by email a signature is not required as we will acknowledge the receipt of your email)
The challenge is that we need to raise £5,000 to complete the building and then another £2,000 for the latrines and another £3,000 for furniture and teaching materials. Work has now stopped until more funds can be raised. We are currently exploring potential donors that might be interested in contributing to this. If you know of any groups or businesses please dont hesitate to send me their details.
For those of you on Facebook we now have our own page (thanks to Jack Lofthouse, formerly R2R). Search for Village Rwanda but dont expect amazing things yet because I am just getting to grips with the administration!
The folk in Rwanda now have a postal address and you may like to write letters or send cards and greetings. Please dont send money or anything very valuable. Any correspondence should be addressed to our teacher and he will make sure it gets to the appropriate people.

PO Box 51


Profiles of the Trustees of Village Rwanda UK

The six trustees of the charity Village Rwanda UK
Tricia Atherton
I am 64 and I have devoted my professional life to education, firstly as a primary school teacher and then as Primary headteacher. On retiring from that position I went to Rwanda with voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to serve as an Education Leadership Advisor. I lived and worked there for 2 1/2 years and during this time I started a Nursery school in a remote, rural village. On my return to the UK I continued to support the school and in June 2015 we formed the charity Village Rwanda UK. I am responsible for leadership & sustainability for the projects In Rwanda.

Lynne Gregory
I am 63 and retired. I have first hand experience of living in Rwanda for 15 months where I worked as a special educational needs adviser with VSO. Prior to retirement and becoming a volunteer,
I worked in the local authority children's services as Strategic Manager of Special Educational Needs. This is a complex area of operations, balancing legal & budgetary requirements with the          expectations of schools and the very specific needs of vulnerable children within a tight policy framework. I am Secretary to VRUK

Darryl Gregory
I am 67 and I retired several years ago after a lifelong career working with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties as teacher and then deputy and headteacher. My work was              challenging, requiring knowledge of personnel management, legal and budget considerations,   specialist educational pedagogy and creating environments to promote learning. I volunteered with VSO in 2011 and worked in Rwanda for 15 months as a special educational needs adviser.
I am Projects Co-ordinator for VRUK.

Margaret Park

I am 60 and have been a Primary teacher for 30 years. I am now a self employed education tutor and also host and teach English to overseas students (EFL), which is rewarding progression from a career as a teacher and education professional. I volunteered with VSO in 2012 and worked in Rwanda for 6 months as a Teaching Methodology Adviser. I am responsible for the education programme for VRUK in Rwanda.

Chris Park
I am 61 and have had a 33 year career with Legal & General Group in a variety of senior roles,    latterly as Head of Operational Development in their Customer Insight team. In September 2014  decided to pursue a role as a self employed business adviser working in the data analysis area.
I have been contracting for Equifax Group since February 2015 involved in a review of their         financial services intelligence products. I have visited Rwanda whilst my wife volunteered with VSO in 2012 and I am Treasurer for VRUK.

Paul Campbell-Kelly
I am 58 and a Business Change and IT Management professional. After an early career as IT         developer and architect I was IS Director at Waterford Wedgwood for 10 years, then Director at PwC and IBM Consulting working in Utilities, Oil & Gas. My key skills are in strategy, business   planning and programme management, in the context of organisational, process and technology led change. Most recently I have implemented Business Intelligence solutions at Morrisons        supermarkets and led the redesign of Santander's account opening process. I am also a keen sailor and commercial yacht skipper. I am responsible for business planning, fund raising and             communications for VRUK.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Please pray, friends living in fear.

On 8 Aug 2015, at 07:30, ALEXIS SABANA <> wrote:
Dear Tricia!
Did you know that we had a terrible night yesterday? It was awful! The earthquake!!! It was arround 3:20 when I felt my bed and all the house shaking . It was the earthquake.  Immediately I rememberred what  happenned in 2008 when many buildings collapsed and many persons died and I rememberred that I am near volcanoes and a lot fear took  me. But it passes  3 times  with a  terrible shaking  and it ended.
My mother and a lot of persons from other arias called me in order to know if there was no problem in Gisenyi we said that it was okay.  Tricia it was terrible! We praize God we are  safe. All buildings are safe even the children center building didn't have any damage.
By the way all madriers (pieces of timbers for making roof) have already been purchased Fabien is waiting for iron sheets money to make the roof. He is afraid because sometimes rain season begins earlier. I told him that you know it.


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Exciting news!!!

Hi everyone. I have some very exciting news, so read on to find out what it is....

We went to Rwanda in June with the intention of making some improvements to the building that we use for the Nursery School and of building some new latrines. We came back from Rwanda with the gift of a piece of land and plans for a new purpose built Children's Centre!Wow!

And this is the latest photo sent by Alexis from the village:
nearly up to roof level already!!
here are some extracts from my journal:

Sunday 07/06/2015
Yesterday we had the meeting with the church leaders about improvements to the building and our request for a ten  year contract to use the building. This was Plan A. We came to an agreement but it had some worrying aspects to it. This morning we discussed it and decided that Plan A was no longer viable – a good decision, but what now?
Plan B, of course! Mama has offered to give some land to the village (GiFo) so that we can build from new. Currently. this piece of land is used for growing coffee and has belonged to the family for generations, so it was important for us to ascertain that the whole family were in agreement. I contacted Fidele in Canada and he assured me that they had discussed it many times and were all in agreement. So, that was it. No sooner said than….. the builder (Fabien) came that afternoon with his daughter, Therese. Darryl spent the day drawing up plans, the umudugudu leader came and explained the process to us. The three surrounding land owners have to agree and sign a contract between Mama and GiFo. All this was done in a couple of days. Within 24hours the builder came with an estimate which we took away with us so that we could show someone with local knowledge to give us an idea of land costs, building costs, rules and regulations etc. 
Here is Mama giving the gift of the land. She is a lovely faithful Christian woman.
From then on, things moved very quickly indeed! We left the village for a few days and on our return the plans for the new building were crystallised. It will not be just a school but it will encompass space for a health worker, the Gifo coordinator and for the sewing cooperative as well as other cooperatives that may be developed in the future. 

More extracts from the journal:
Tuesday 16th June
Met up with Lynne and Darryl again and returned by boat to Gasundwe.
Reflection on these few days:
All my planned trips to Nyamasheke were not possible because of the rain, frustrating for me but better for the project because Alexis, Darryl and the builder were able to itemise the costs of building and phase the work so now we have a planned project, costed out. It can move forward now and when we get back to UK we will know how much money we need to raise and by what date.
Friday 19th June
This is a very special day in Gasundwe. Almost before we were awake we were surprised by the arrival of Fabien, the builder, and several of the young men from the village. They were carrying pick axes, hoes and machetes so that they could begin clearing the land, ready for the foundations to go in. What a surprise! And it was so exciting for everyone. There was a real buzz going on. We had no idea this was happening today. Lynne dragged Darryl out of bed because we didn't want him to miss it. The lads set to work with such energy. I say lads but actually there were a real mixture of ages. The children watched in amazement at history being made in their village. The women came from the household to rescue the food crops, like yams. They took them away and replanted them in a safe area. Other women came to ask Fabien for work and he took some of them on. There will be fish on the plates this weekend.

The village is thrumming with activity. The primary school children are not at school so they are watching and sometimes joining in - helping dad. Lynne and I stand watching in awe. I have a try with a machete and manage to make two small chips in the trunk of a coffee tree. I wonder how old they are? How does Mama feel to see them go after all these years? She is such a good and faithful woman, such an example. 
The contract with the builder was handwritten yesterday and signed by us all and today the work started! Amazing. How long would this process take in UK?

The hens arrive, two impressive cockerels strut around taking part in the celebration.

Today is a very special day. The president is in Kibuye visiting so no traffic is moving either on the roads or on the lake, everything has stopped. The prime minister is visiting in Kibingo, along with the Monseigneur of the whole region. Everyone is out there enjoying the spectacle. There is no school today.
But the most special thing of all is happening here in Gasundwe. 
I managed to make two small dents in the coffee tree!
And by mid afternoon the boys were able to play football for a while.

 We made the decision to build a new centre partly based on our experience of  visiting the family of the little girl, Joyeuse, who died just two weeks before our visit. She was very ill and although the health worker tried to help the family there was nothing that could be done. She died at midnight and the next day two of her brothers were taken to the nearest health post, two hours walk away. Fortunately they recovered and came home a few days later. When we heard the facts of what had  happened we realised that one of the most important requirements is teaching about basic sanitation, clean water etc.

 The feeding programme will continue and so will the nursery school but we will also work towards having classes for parents and teenagers to improve skills and understanding of hygiene, sanitation and healthy living. there will be new latrines based on the African Dry system. All this will cost money of course, but considering the benefits we believe it will be very worthwhile.
The cost of the new building will be £12000 which, in the great scheme of things in the UK is not much, however it will make a world of difference to the lives of many in Gihombo. Also we can spread the fund raising over three phases. We have enough money for phase 1 and we can raise £2-3000 before phase 2 begins, then another push for phase 3 which will be paid in two halves. In addition there will be the cost of the latrines (one of Darryl's favourite projects). 
Remember, in Rwanda we must always be prepared for plans and particularly time scales to change but in February 2016 Margo, Chris and I will be able to see progress when we visit.

The other great news is that now we are a Registered Charity and we have a new bank account. On a personal note, I really want to thank those friends and family members who have supported the project since the beginning. It is you who have started all this and you who have made it happen so far. We are in the throes of writing a 'business plan', setting target dates and other administrative things which I hate, but I know they are necessary and will be very useful.
I will be posting again very soon with details of our new bank account and updates of progress in other aspects of life in Rwanda, including THE ROAD!!!
Please do comment or send me a message. Love Tx