We hope you are having a great summer! There’s been a lot going on around the Rwandan Orphans Project’s Imizi Children’s Center, so we wanted to tell you what we’ve been up to since our last update.
The biggest and best news is the fact that we have been able to fully pay off our new land. That’s right, back in May we were able to make the final payment on our new home, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the paperwork that will secure the property, and our future, for many years to come.
When the ROP started out in an abandoned industrial warehouse the idea of having our own permanent home was nothing more than a dream. In 2010 we were able to move to a better location, but there we had to pay rent, which was a significant burden on our budget each and every year. Today we have finally realized our goal of securing a permanent facility for our children’s program, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
As wonderful as our new Imizi Children’s Center is, we are also very fortunate to be in a great new community in Rwanda’s rural Eastern Province. Recently our school was entered into a regional tournament for both soccer and volleyball in our area. We are pleased to tell you that our boys won both tournaments, handily defeating all their competition in both sports. Just as encouraging as the victories was the fact that many of our new neighbors – children and adults alike – came out to cheer for our school from the sidelines during our matches. This really made all of the staff and children at Imizi feel like we were now truly a part of our new community.
The Imizi volleyball team
Imizi football players and local supporters celebrating victory
Another great achievement happened just last Friday when one of our graduates, Jean, graduated from the National University of Rwanda having earned himself a bachelor's degree. Even more impressive was the fact that he graduated FIRST IN THE ENTIRE CLASS! That is no small feat at all, especially considering he graduated with nearly 2,000 other students.
Jean arriving at Imizi for his graduation celebration
Jean is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide, the tragedy that saw approximately 800,000 Rwandans killed, including his own parents and siblings. He is the sole survivor of his family, and the physical and mental scars were never easy for him to overcome. After losing his family he ended up surviving on his own on the streets of Kigali until, at age 12, he found the ROP. No student worked harder in the classroom and when Jean wasn't in class, washing his clothes or doing other chores his nose would be buried in any book he could get his hands on. The results of his commitment to aspire to a better life combined with the opportunities ROP was able to give him are now celebrated by us all.
When speaking to our boys at his party he told them, "I attended classes with rich kids and kids who had 'normal' families. Many of them doubted me and discouraged me because, in their eyes, having been a street boy, I could never hope to achieve anything. First I proved them wrong by being elected class president in my second year. Many still doubted me, so I showed them by becoming the best student in the entire school. Now they can't doubt me. Never let anyone doubt you because of where you came from. The only one who can stop you doing great things is yourself".
“Never let anyone doubt you because of where you came from”
The children were thrilled and couldn’t wait to congratulate Jean when he visited Imizi on Saturday for his graduation celebration. Jean is certainly an inspiration to all our children, and we wish him the best of luck as he begins the next chapter in his life.
We have to thank supporters like you for giving us the necessary support to make these successes happen. Each year we are able to provide help to more vulnerable children and add important services and opportunities to them and their families. Without you hundreds of children and their families would not have access to the education, care and support crucial to helping them lift themselves out of poverty. So once again, from all of at the Rwandan Orphans Project, THANK YOU!
Best wishes from Rwanda,