Hello, for those of you who do not know me, I am Marita and I have been working with Ubaka U Rwanda since it was founded in 2008. I am one of the Trustees, help out with the website and attended the same university as Becky and Lucy.
I am also the only trustee who until now never visited the charity in Rwanda. When my finance Dave suggested to spend our honeymoon in Africa – there was no question that it will include a visit to Ubaka U Rwanda.
We were first welcomed by Shaun, our US Representative who works 10 months a year as a fire fighter and spends two months a year with the boys at the centre. Unfortunately I missed Becky and Evode who were on a visit in the UK at the time.
Shaun gave us the tour of the centre which is located in a lively district of Kigali called Nyamirambo. It is amazing how we (and you) have managed to create a home for the boys who a few years back had nothing and would have had a very bleak future without your help.
I spoke to Muneza who very timidly confessed to me that he never expected to return back to school. He told me how from the age of 7 he was living on the street. They used to sleep underneath a bridge, which is where Evode found them and prayed with them. However; there was no place for them to go until money was donated for Evode to rent a house for them. Still at the beginning they had no mattresses and the boys used to bring cardboard boxes to sleep on. Now he is 16 and has been back to school for five years.
This visit has put life into perspective for me. Muneza’s story is just one of many boys who have found a home with Evode and Becky; and hopefully we will be able to help many more.
There are so many more stories which I would like to share about you on my visit to the centre but I wanted to let everyone know how much we the supporters enrich the lives of those boys.
You can read about our dinner with the Ubaka U Rwanda boys here.
More to come soon
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we are pleased announce that Ubaka U Rwanda has bought a plot of land in Kicukiro District, Kigali.
Ubaka U Rwanda’s largest fixed running cost is the rental cost of our centre. Although we did manage to move into larger accommodation last year, space remains limited and the rental market remains expensive and volatile.
Our vision is to secure a permanent home for the boys with the space and security they deserve. We are delighted that we have been able to take the first step towards making this dream a reality.
The plot is just 2 minutes’ walk from a major new road and a few minutes’ walk from our church and schools. The land falls into a new local government area but we are pleased to say that the new local authorities have been hugely supportive and look forward to welcoming our centre to their area. We are very grateful for their support and our ongoing close collaboration with the Government of Rwanda.
Work now begins on the planning, designing and fundraising for the centre build.
An ambitious project such as this for a charity of our size was never going to happen quickly or without significant work. However, with the continued support of our incredible donors and dedicated work from our internal team we are sure that our vision accomplished. On behalf of the entire Ubaka U Rwanda team and the boys we thank all those that have enabled us to get to this stage.
Time has flown and Ubaka U Rwanda is turning 5!
Five years since a few of us: Becky, Evode, Lucy and Marita embarked on the exciting journey of registering Ubaka U Rwanda as a Charity in the UK to enrich and empower the lives of street children in Rwanda.
Since then we have gone from strength to strength. What started as a local project by Evode has grown into cross country initiative with supporters from the UK and the USA (thanks to the great support from Sully who works half a year as a firefighter in the USA and helps us in Rwanda for the rest).
Today we now house more than 30 boys, provide them with education and most importantly a home. The boys exam results speak for themselves and we have now have collected enough funding to buy land and build our own house for the boys. This will give us more stability as the letting market in Rwanda is volatile which is part due to the fluctuating exchange rate.
To celebrate this anniversary Becky and Evode are coming the London with their child Keza. We would like to invite you to join us at The Old Explorer Pub in Central London on the 26th of October 2013 from 3 pm onwards to meet the trustees, have a chat and celebrate.
Date: 26th of October
Time: from 3pm to 11pm (drop in whenever you feel like it)
Location: The Old Explorer, 23 Great Castle Street, W1G 0JA London, United Kingdom (click here for the map)
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Your Ubaka U Rwanda Team
We find it is very important to help the boys learn to appreciate their beautiful country and appreciate it and create new life experiences that helps shape their character.
Last year we were fortunate enough to be able to bring them to Lake Muhazi in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. This year, we were able to be able to bring them to Lake Kivu in the Northern Province. We had a good three hour drive through the winding roads going up and down the never-ending hills of Rwanda. On the way we picked up a few of our boys that were in boarding school. Upon arrival, the boys were ecstatic to finally see the Lake Kivu as they had heard about it all of their lives. Within seconds, some were already swimming, as some began to play football on the sandy beach.
All were very well behaved and we had the support of some volunteers to watch out for everyone as well. At lunch time, we made a circle on the grass and enjoyed a nice meal the boys had cooked in preparation the night before.
We also celebrated Evode’s birthday. Evode does not know his actual birthday so once a year we choose a day to throw him a birthday celebration because we all think he deserves it.
Most of the boys only swimming experience had been during the previous year’s excursion to Lake Muhazi, but many of them were beginning to get better this time. Football by midday was extremely challenging and hilarious because the sand got incredibly hot even for tough Africans’ feet. If a player didn’t have possession of the ball, he typically would sprint to the areas of the beach with shade to recover and then run frantically out again to make a play. There were some boys that wouldn’t leave the water unless it was for food or when we had to leave. All in all, it was a day for the boys to relax and feel like a normal kid.
Driving home that night, we were squished in our bus, happily falling asleep on each other. It was a great day and we thank everyone for their support.
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.