Impact Rwanda takes a holistic approach to meeting the needs of those who are desperately poor and vulnerable in Rwanda. Their focus is on empowering and equipping women, refugees, and at-risk children and youth by providing access to improved spiritual and physical health, education, and vocational training.
The program has three main projects — the Komeza Women’s Initiative, the Community Bible Church, and the Kiziba Refugee Education Project.
Detailed Implementation Plan
Kiziba Refugee Camp
There has been a shortage of support to refugees around the world, and this is severely affecting the people of Kiziba. This refugee community has gone through many difficulties since the beginning of this year. In January, the monthly living allowance for refugees was reduced by 25% and they were told that more cuts would follow. This has prompted protests by the refugees which resulted in violence, insecurity, the loss of lives and many injuries. The refugees of Kiziba camp are angry and resentful.
In the last six months, Impact Rwanda has not been able to run its activities in the Kiziba Refugee as expected due to protests by refugees that started in February. These protests had caused a lot of insecurity in the camp until May. The Kiziba Community Library was temporary closed a number of times and activities were limited only to reading and board games. During the protests, two of the staff left the camp. These include the team leader and the English teacher. Contact with these staff has been lost and it is believed that they are living in another camp in Uganda.
Impact Rwanda also visited and comforted 3 different families that have a member linked directly to the work at the library who were most affected by the tragedies. All of these families received clothes, shoes, sugar, soaps, and cash for food proportional to their family size.
Though people are still in shock because of what happened, Serge and Jen Kamari thank God that the situation is calm and all activities are running as normal.
In January, a day of training was provided to 96 students of the English program, during the visit of students and teachers from Kigali International Community School (KICS). The visiting students spent most of their time at the library interacting with fellow students from the refugee community. During group discussions, participants had the opportunity to practice their written and spoken English; they acquired new vocabularies and had cross-cultural experiences. Visitors were also introduced to refugee life through a tour in the camp focusing on public areas like schools, market, water points etc. Before the end of visit, a friendly basketball game was organized between the girls from the camp and those on the visiting team. Both groups of students enjoyed the visit and had fun.
In order to strengthen the Library team, two new refugee staff (Gentille and Vedaste) were hired on June 28 to help run the English program. Vedaste attended the English program two years ago and now he has the opportunity to teach others. This shows how this program has a great impact to the beneficiaries. Training for these two teachers is planned in the first week of July in order to help them be equipped and guided for their new responsibilities.
The music class met only once in January and was not able to continue due to insecurity and the renewal of a new partnership agreement with OmniPeace Foundation (the partner in music program) that is pending. There are 24 students registered in the music program.
There are currently 6 refugee students who have received support for school. The support include school fees, school supplies, medical insurance and full boarding in school outside the camp. These students include 3 children who lost their mother during the February protests.
Support for School Supplies
Following the February incident in Kiziba, many refugees lost their belongings including children’s school materials. This situation affected students in their learning as they were going to classes empty-handed or with only 1 notebook in which they had combine all subjects. The consequence was a significant decrease in attendance as students were not motivated to attend class. In order to encourage students to continue school, on June 28th Impact Rwanda donated 6,996 notebooks and 6109 pens to 948 students registered in Grades 6, 9 and 12 because students in these grades will write their national exams in November this year. Students, parents and camp leaders were pleased by this donation.
High School Graduation
In February, the Ministry of Education published the results of last year’s national examinations. It is exciting that 17 students passed the exams and were able to graduate from high school. This is no ordinary achievement! It is significant. For many years these students had no hope to finish high school because of a lack of support. Impact Rwanda has been able to give them the support they needed to graduate. Many students say that what Impact Rwanda has done is something only a loving parent can do. They are grateful for the support they have received over three years.
Those who failed were encouraged to repeat the year and retake the national exams. Two girls decided to repeat grade 12 and are among those that are being supported.
A total of 3,185 students and non-students, young and old alike, attended the reading sessions and were able to use the resources that are available at the library. As they spent time in the library many benefited from free charging of cellphone and other solar light devices. A total of 1,026 devices were charged.
Kiziba Camp had no upper secondary level until 2016. Since then, the Library has been a place for students to meet and discuss about their studies and use the available resources. Students in grade 9 and 12 have used the library to study more and have organized group discussions in order to prepare themselves for the national exams later this year.
More than 2,000 people played different board games at the library. This activity happens every Friday afternoon and it is open for children, youth as well as adults. These games have helped many to temporarily forget the recent insecurities and tragedies that happened in the camp.
Komeza has been a buzz of activity the last 6 months with both locations of J.Lynn’s running at good capacity.
The newest location has been very successful and the customer base is growing. The customers continue to enjoy the view of the city along with great homemade food. It has been great to see the Komeza women taking great care in creating a salad plate that is pleasing to the eye. This is part of their food preparation and customer service training.
In early June, Serge and Jen were notified that they are being expropriated from the property of the Kicukiro location for expanded road construction. Jen and Serge made the difficult decision to close the location at the end of June. Five women had to be released from employment. This was a very difficult day. Impact Rwanda trusts that what they have learned from being part of the Komeza community for the past 5 years will continue to empower them to make positive and Godly choices for themselves and their families.
Children And Youth At Risk (CYAR)
Currently there are 14 students, one guardian and one girl with chronic disease that are supported under this project. Some of these students are former street children, orphans and others from very poor families. They continue to be discipled, mentored and supported with school fees, school supplies, medical, food and accommodation.
At the beginning of this year supporters were found so that these children will be able to graduate from high school. Impact Rwanda is grateful to these donors for their support.
Stories of Transformation
We first met Apollinaire in 2008. He was 14 years old and working as a house boy cleaning floors and washing laundry. He had finished grade 4 and was dreaming of going back to school.
He met Emily, an intern, doing some tutoring and basic English classes. She thought he had potential and advocated for school sponsorship. Impact Rwanda decided to support him for school and get him into a more stable living situation.
Each year has been a journey. In grade 9 he almost quit. He was discouraged with his marks and was convinced that he wanted to do a trade of some sort. Serge and Jennifer convinced him that he needed to dig deep and continue in his high school education.
In October 2017 he wrote his final high school national exams and in February 2018 we found out that he had passed them in FIRST division!!
Not only has Apollinaire excelled at school but he has also made great strides from being a former street boy to being a young man making independent decisions that would honor and reflect His faith in Jesus. The road has definitely had many setbacks along the way but each time he has wrestled with his faith and sought counsel to make better decisions in life.
Today he is working at J.Lynn’s to implement his hospitality schooling before he heads to university later this year for Hotel and Restaurant Management and Kitchen Skills.
We believe that Apollinaire will continue to allow God to transform his life to be more like Himself.
A former intern, now donor, came to visit us the end of February for one week to encourage us and one of the new high school graduates.
In March, some donors came to visit for about 10 days during their visit to Africa.
Isabella, the 11 year old daughter of Serge and Jennifer, staged a fundraiser locally in Rwanda and on GoFundMe, to raise funds for a specific family at the Kiziba Refugee Camp.
The Kamari Family is visiting Canada for the months of July and August to reconnect with family, friends, church and donors.