Dear FrOGs, so much has happened in Gashora since my last blog entry in April, so I will start with the most significant changes
NEW EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTER:
Thanks to our amazing partner in the US another early childhood development centre is under construction and should be opening shortly. The team decided once again against the use of heavy equipment in order to give jobs to as many villagers as possible. So this new construction site is presently employing around 300 local workers that are receiving a living wage. And soon 300 + children will be able to go to school and receive a daily meal.
These new buildings will also house a first aid room and a covered eating area that can also be used for functions and meetings.
A new central kitchen facility is in the plans to provide a healthier working environment for our many cooks that are presently working in a smoky cookhouse.
The new kitchen will have gas burners and in the future we hope to switch to solar power and electric stoves.
The construction of a new boys and girls dormitory will also be completed before Christmas and provide our beneficiaries with a permanent home, no longer dependent on landlords.
A second guesthouse and a permanent workshop for our sewers and weavers are in the planning and fundraising stages.
This second guesthouse will be located at my favourite place, right by the lake.
All this is very exciting and will provide numerous new jobs, with the guesthouse and workshop becoming income generating and eventually self sustaining.
Our amazing Journey House Miracle Workers continue to surprise us. They are presently supervising a community project, the construction of a pyramid kitchen garden. This project required a permit from the province and our young people spent many hours in meetings with government officials to convince them of the merits of this community project. Look at the many bricks the participants made, the kids are having a blast getting all mucky, giggling, and laughing.
AMANI BIKE TRAIL
The Journey House team had a visit from the national Rwandan Bicycle Team and together they rode the newly developed Amani bike trail which connects five of the lakes in the Gashora District. The plan is to invite bicycle riders to Gashora to explore the lakes and their many birds while staying at our guesthouse and experiencing village life. Some valuable first connections have been made.
INTERNS and VISITORS
As always Gashora has a number of interns from many African countries working at the many projects, or working alongside our wonderful teachers at the preschool. This year Gashora also had many visitors from our American Partners and from Canada. Some of these visitors really rolled up their sleeves and helped renovate the homes of vulnerable families. Pouring cement floors, building latrines and patching up walls.
SEWING AND WEAVING TEAM
After much delay, our latest shipment of brand-new baskets arrived just in time for the Saanich Fall Fair. The new shopping baskets are a great success and we are nearly sold out. The same is true for our beautiful cotton kitenge "HAPPY PANTS" ( daytime pyjama pants) made by the Umubuntu sewing team. All the aprons and tablecloths with napkins sold out quickly. During our next visit, we will work on sewing cute little summer dresses and women’s shirts.
The weavers have been busy making banana fibre ribbons to work into more shopping baskets to fill the orders that are coming in.
Our Art program is attracting more and more attention with the many carvers and painters producing truly beautiful pieces. More and more visitors are leaving with gorgeous works of art which in turn supports the UBUMUNTU Art project.
The farm continues to expand and is producing all the fresh vegetables for the entire team, beneficiaries, and school children.
The cows are now producing over 200l !!!!!!! of milk, adding much-needed protein to everyone’s diet, including those people that are registered with JHA for nutritional support.
Thank you again to those of you that helped to get the piggery project started. It is proving to have been a worthwhile undertaking and we now have nearly 50 pigs in the ever-expanding compound. Evode and Justin continue to do an awesome job taking care of the animals and organizing all the crew that helps them, especially during school hours.
Viane, the young man that is looking after the chickens and rabbits is passionate about his work and we can see the results in the many new chicks and baby rabbits that keep on coming. Eggs continue to play a critical role in the nutrition of our children thus it is nice to see more and more eggs being added to their diet.
Again thank you to all of you that have purchased goats as gifts over the years. This project is also thriving and many kid goats are being born weekly to their proud owners. That means that here and there meat can be added to the diet of the families protecting them from malnutrition.
And of course, all that wonderful manure that all the animals are producing is essential for the successful harvests at the farm.
Many of you will remember our amazing student that graduated with honours from the La Riveria Private School. A team of people are in the process of helping Derrick find scholarships to a University. His dream is to study Aerospace engineering or if that fails engineering. If you have contacts to Universities and might be able to help, please let us know.
In the meantime, Derrick is busy tutoring many of our beneficiaries in the sciences and in english. He started a book club in partnership with a classroom in Wisconsin and they are presently reading THE ALCHEMIST by Paolo Coelho.
He is hoping to grow french beans on a piece of land to raise funds for his family and his future goals.
Is a term that Rogers coined to send the message that smiles beget smiles. And that no matter how dark your day might be if you smile you always have a gift for your neighbour and you will brighten their day. Smiles are contagious. And of course, we all know about the health benefits when we smile.
IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF THE VIRGIN
Thanks to Raccoon Sixty nearly $1000.00 have already been raised through the sales of the Book. If you are still looking for a present consider the gift of laughter. The book is now available in most Victoria book stores, directly from us or online. If you enjoyed the book please leave a review on amazon or good reads.
To our fabulous volunteers, a heartfelt thank you for all your hard work especially with the many markets we were once again able to participate in. We were so lucky to have found an amazing team that allowed us to participate in Fairs in Duncan and Courtney, as well as many markets in Victoria. Please consider volunteering for markets to sell our baskets next year. There are still many more markets we could sell baskets and raise even more funds for the many programs in Gashora.
A special thank you to DM designs for their continued help with our website, newsletter and whatever online stuff we need help with. We are grateful for all you do.
Before closing, I want to once again thank you all for your continued interest and support for all the many projects and programs. To think that none of this existed just 5 short years ago. The "never sleep" team has inspired so many of us to stand beside them and make their dreams come true. One Dream , One Team !!!!! And you all helped to make this happen. Just look over the photos in this newsletter and you can marvel at all that is now happening in Gashora. All those jobs that have been created, all those children that are going to school, learning, playing and being fed nutritious meals. All those young people that are growing up in an environment of care and love that will always remember the kindness of people far away and know that we believe in ONE humanity.
One of my greatest pleasures is to have met so many of you that share in our passion and love for Gashora. To come together with like minded friends in a spirit of sharing and caring is not what we have expected when we set out on this Rwandan Journey, and yet here you all are. My heart is full with gratitude. This could never have happened without all of you.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season.
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