We had an exciting Christmas this year with our first nativity play at the centre. The boys had never experienced a nativity play as it is a Western Christian tradition and so not very common in Africa.
We had a lot of fun making costumes, learning the story of Jesus’ birth and acting it out – if you want to see the end result (in English) it’s on our youtube page! We had a fun day opening our gifts with the boys each getting a gift this year thanks to a generous donation from David Sullivan.
Keza (Becky’s and Evode’s Baby) also seemed to enjoy her first Christmas but couldn’t keep awake for long!
After church and Christmas dinner (meat and rice with Fanta or sweet tea) we played some games. The boys were introduced to “pass the parcel”. I stupidly forgot to put the sweets in some layers! The boys were convinced these ‘booby-trapped’ layers were part of the game and made it more entertaining. Other games included musical bumps and statues.
Boxing day held was in the Rwandan tradition. The Rwandan charity Umva Nshuti brought Ubaka U Rwanda together with another centre for street children. We enjoyed a day of food and fun. Our boys did the cooking and were brilliant hosts – showing off their traditional dance skills and gymnastics. It was wonderful to share our different experiences of Christmas with the boys!
First of all thank you to all of you who contributed to our Big Give Christmas Challenge Appeal. We raised in total £2570 which was matched by Big Give to £5136!
2012 has been an amazing year for Ubaka U Rwanda and the boys that we care for.
I will mention a few highlights for which we can be thankful
Apart from the last item, none of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our brilliant donors! Every penny counted and really has made a difference to us (the Ubaka team). Only the boys can explain what huge difference this made to their lives.
One of the foundations of these achievements is the dedication, unending love and work of Evode and Becky. Nor would it be possible without the work of the small group of Trustees and Ubaka friends who work so many hours to put everything together for no pay other than the satisfaction of knowing they helped the boys.
On behalf of Evode and I (as Chairmen) but especially the boys – THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for everything you are doing and have done. Together we make a great team!
From everyone at the Ubaka U Rwanda team (see who we are) we wish you a very blessed and Merry Christmas
Doug Kirke-Smith, Chairman – Ubaka U Rwanda UK
Last year Ubaka U Rwanda joined in the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge and managed to raise £9000 which was put towards buying land to build a new centre for the boys.
Every year, the Big Give runs a matched funding event called the Christmas Challenge where you could have your donation matched, making your support to your favourite charity go even further. This year 365 charities are participating. Each day there is only a limited amount of money available to match the donations that the charity receives. The donations open at 10 am each morning.
Please note that the fund’s available each day run out very quickly so if you like to make sure that your donation will be matched its advised to donate as close to 10am UK time as possible!
The challenge started on Thursday 7 December and we received £310 which was matched by BigGive to a total sum of £610.
The challenge is open for 2 more days so if you are online; and would like your donation to reach further and be matched visit
Friday 7 or Saturday December at 10 am – help us and donate here.
This month proved to be an exciting and eventful one: We said goodbye to our home for the past 3 years. Our landlord needed his house back. It can only be described as a blessing when we found a bigger and better place.
I’ve done a fair few moves in my life but this was African style!
First there was the fun of tracking down boxes, the concept of using boxes (let alone wrapping things up in newspaper or tightly packing things) seemed a novel one. The norm is to hove everything lose in a pick-up truck! We eventually managed to find some boxes by going to the market place at 5am before they were collected by the binmen.
After finally finding some cellotape it was all hands on deck: repainting our old home, dismantling bunk beds, filling in holes and scrubbing floors and toilets! So after lots of packing and re-packing, discovering lost treasures and obligatory breakages and odd socks before we knew it we were saying goodbye to our first family home.
Watch out for our next blog on the new house and how we are settling in.
Jackson used to visit us every Sunday to help the Ubaka U Rwanda boys with schoolwork or just to spend time at the centre. He was part of an organization called Bridge2Rwanda. Sadly he left last month to pursue his university education in the USA.
He visited our centre for the last time, just two days before he was about to depart. The farewell was heart breaking. The boys stood up and thanked Jackson for the time, wisdom and friendship he had given the centre and to themselves personally.
He remains a positive role model and that motivates the boys to work harder to achieve their academic aims.
We wish Jackson the best of luck in his future studies and we can’t thank you enough!
This summer’s excursion highlight was a trip to the lake Lake Muhazi . As much as we are striving to provide life’s necessities for the boys, we also believe that a vital part of growing up should be gaining new life experiences. We were fortunate enough to gain a small donation that would enable us to take the boys out for a swim.
Evode, our centre manager, thought it was important to get the boys outside of the city of Kigali and make a day of it. We found a resort which was currently under renovations, which meant that we had it all to ourselves!
Many boys were nervous but very excited as they had never left Kigali nor been swimming before! The bus ride was an experience in itself. We were crammed in a little bus and spend the whole journey singing and admiring our surroundings. We got there and the boys were set free to explore the playground.
Swimming was everything everyone hoped it would be. The boys all had a great time and many of them were beginning to be able to swim on their own!
However for some, the only way we were able to get some boys out of the water was by enticing them to come on a boat ride! The resort had a small boat which they took us out on.
It was a wonderfully relaxing day for everyone. It was a day of many firsts for the boys. It was a day when they were enjoying life and not just “surviving” like when they used to live on the street.
Last year we were proud to send our first boy off to boarding school. Now it is 2012, and we are excited to announce that two of our boys were accepted to attend boarding schools. Denys will visit a secondary school in Masango, and Big Jack in Gakenke.
Because both boys were off to different schools on the same day, we had to decide how to take them.
Big Jack’s father was killed in the genocide, but he is lucky to have a loving mother. Denys is an orphan so we decided it would be best to accompany him to his new school. Jack’s mother would accompany Jack.
All of the boys were very excited and helped out where they could as the two scholars prepared to leave.
We parted ways with Jack and his mother in Nyabugogo.
The secondary school for Denys was far off the beaten path and took two hours by bus to reach. Denys appeared calm and relaxed when we arrived, but when he was asked how he was feeling, he admitted he was nervous to leave home and be far away. But when the prospect of new friends was introduced to him, he said bluntly “I come to school to study much.” We believe he will in deed study much and succeed, and we are sure he will make plenty of new friends as well.
“Santa,” as the boys call him, has a long way to go before he becomes the doctor he wants to be but he is now one step closer. We are so proud of Big Jack and Denys, and thank everyone for their continued support.
This years holidays were filled with treats, crafts, visitors, and just general love and comfort. We could not have celebrated Christmas without the support from our volunteers and sponsors.
One of our holiday visitors from the UK was Jenifer Mahon, a friend of Becky. She and Becky worked tremendously hard to transform the Ubaka center into a home. On Christmas eve stocking was handmade, a snowman was molded, lights hung and finally a Christmas tree decorated.
Jennifer brought stocking stuffers for all of the boys which included: toy soldiers, bouncy balls, candies, and underwear. Jennifer and Becky woke up during the middle of the night to stuff the stockings and place the presents under the tree. When the boys awoke the next morning they were pleasantly surprised.
On Christmas morning, it would be an understatement to say that the boys were excited, some could not figure out what to do with themselves. Yves could not stop giggling, Ishimwe kept running in and out of the house making sure that it was all real, and Dieudonne walked around saying “Merry Christmas!”
All and all Christmas was everything it should be; family, love, sweetness from freshly baked treats, and a house full of joy youth!
Happy New Year everyone and we hope you enjoyed your Christmas.
Students from the organization Bridge 2 Rwanda (known for assisting outstanding students in attaining scholarships to universities in the U.S.) have been coming to help the boys with homework, English, general studying, and just hanging out. For the last 2 months they have been visiting every Sunday.
Last weekend they led an activity called the “Egg Drop”.
Now some of you may be familiar with the “Egg Drop,” but for those who don’t let me explain.
1. Each team is given a set of materials and an egg.
2. They must create a device that will prevent the egg from cracking after being dropped from at least 4 meters off the ground.
3. The boys were divided into 3 groups and were each given a water bottle, tape, one balloon, toilet paper, and straws.
Team 1: Egg exploded
Team 2: Egg with a little crack
Team 3: One whole Egg!
Where did you live before you came to Ubaka U Rwanda?
When I grew up I lived with a man, who told me he was not really my father. I had to sleep out the front of the house, as he had locked the doors and when he returned one day he told me that he never wants to see me again. He took me by car to a bus stop and left me there. I was around 4 years old.
How did you survive?
A man at the bus stop asked me what was wrong. When I told him he took me to his mother’s house to do some chores, but in the morning they told me to leave. I slept in the woods for 2 nights where I fell and broke my arm. I went back to the man who raised me. He was not happy to see me, but let me stay until my arm was better, then he sent me away again.
Could the local authorities have helped you?
People who saw me sleeping at the bus station told me to go the Nyamirambo police station. They did not believe me at first, but then sent me to the “Gusimba Centre” orphanage. However they were full, and would not take me in so I had to return to the police station. I stayed there for more than a month, and they let me sleep inside the prison at night.
How did you get to Ubaka U Rwanda?
While I was staying at the prison, Evode came to pick up another boy. He said I could come with him, but the police officers would not let me go until they confirmed that Ubaka U Rwanda is ok.
How do you like it at Ubaka U Rwanda?
I love my life at the centre. Before I did not know anything about school and now I realised what I have missed. I try to make up for it and last year I was top of the class. My school and my parents (Evode and Becky) were so pleased that I was allowed to skip a year.
What are your chores at the centre?
Everyone in the centre is divided up into teams. I am in the cooking team, so I sometimes cook, or wash the dishes or help with the cleaning of the centre.
What would you like to do in the future?
I am thinking about 3 different jobs. I would like to become either a pilot, a highly educated doctor with my own clinic or maybe an ambassador. But I am certain I will have a good future.
Now I want to concentrate on my study and obey everyone that says the truth.