With our recent move to Rwanda, we’re now making huge strides in fulfilling our goal of setting up community libraries in each of the country’s 21 major sectors. And we’re doing it in partnership with youth who need employment.
Last month we completed the installation of the Kimisagara community youth library. It’s stocked with books are we’re excited to formally launch it with a community and school celebration in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Youth and Information and Communications Technology. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting event!
This month, we’ve been working on setting up our next library in Bugesera. We’ve completed the painting and are now working with youth who have graduated from the Iwawa Youth Rehabilitation Centre (a facility for former street youth where they learned trade skills) to build the shelves, tables and desks to furnish the new library.
These youth, who have formed a 35-member carpentry co-op called Coperative Tuzamurane with the help of a government grant, are doing incredible work, turning their lives around and becoming leaders in their community while earning a living. Some of these young men were former orphans, drug users or involved in petty crime. They are now fathers, peer mentors and entrepreneurs.
“Hearing their stories is very encouraging,” says Grace Rwanda co-founder Elizabeth Johnson. “They are now helping those who are still on the street encouraging them to join the cooperative and change for a better and bright future.”
To help support them, we hope to include their work in our next youth centre library in Iwawa and perhaps all of our upcoming libraries. In the meantime, we helped the young men in this coop celebrate their first anniversary of their business with a party and some cake. We donated some soccer balls and jerseys to the group in thanks.
It’s been a rewarding and inspiring few months in Rwanda, with lots to show for our efforts. Thank you again for all your support which is making our mission of literacy possible.
Just a few months after arriving in Rwanda to focus more on local operations, Grace Rwanda’s leaders are already in the news.
Elizabeth Johnson was celebrated for her literacy promotion work with Grace Rwanda in a feature story in Rwanda’s The New Times newspaper the other day. The paper is the leading English-language daily in the country.
The piece, titled, “Empowering community-based librarians to serve,” focused on a recent workshop to train librarians held at Kigali Public Library. The librarians, brought in from all over the country, were trained in library management, cataloguing, book recording, and filing to improve their skills. The Rwandan government has made increasing literacy in the country a priority.
Grace Rwanda believes that educating librarians is a great step to empowering Rwandans to foster greater literacy among youth. To that end, our organization donated 150 dictionaries to the librarians to support their literacy efforts, and our efforts were noted in the article.
Here’s an excerpt of what else the news story had to say about us:
Elizabeth Mujawamariya-Johnson attended the workshop in her capacity as a member of the Rwandan diaspora working in international development. She recently returned with her husband from Canada for permanent stay in Rwanda.
While still in Canada, she had initiated an organization called Grace Rwanda Society based in Langley, British Columbia in Canada.
In 2014, she decided to create a sister organization that would act as a local NGO, hence the birth of Ineza Foundation.
“In January I moved to Rwanda full-time with my husband to kind of increase our capacity so we can open the office and be able to assemble an operational team here for Ineza Foundation so they can be the ones to implement all the projects for Grace Rwanda Society,” Mujawamariya-Johnson explained.
The foundation recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Youth and ICT to equip 21 community libraries across the country under their respective district youth centers.
The first two beneficiaries were; Muhanga Youth Center in Muhanga district, Southern Province, and Kayonza Youth Center in Kayonza district, Eastern Province, which were equipped with books, computers and e-readers.
Read more of the article on The New Times web site. And check back for more updates from the field as we continue to ramp up our youth literacy work in Rwanda.
That’s why we were thrilled to meet with Rotary International leadership in March at an event in Rwanda.
Elizabeth and Paul met Rotary International President K. R. “Ravi” Ravindran and his wife Vanathy during one of their visits to the African nation. The couple were joined by representatives from the 10 central African countries of District 9150.
The Johnsons also met with the president of the Minneapolis University Rotary Club, Florianne Nibakure. She is also working in Rwanda, as the founder and executive director of the Nibakure Children’s Village in Rwanda.
Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame as well as Rwanda’s Minister of Education and Minister of Health also attended the celebration.
It was a very special moment and we were able to express our thanks for all the assistance that Rotarians have provided us over the years.
As part of the visit, the president toured a library funded by Rotary five years ago. It is the last one they have built on their own.
Grace Rwanda is proud to be taking up the cause in building our own youth centre libraries, with the next one in Kimisagara set to open this spring. Our libraries were made possible in part through the thousands of dollars donations and thousands of dictionaries supplied by our own dedicated Rotary partners in B.C. We extend you a heartfelt thank you.
We are happy to be joining so many other Rotarians in bringing literacy to Rwanda. Stay tuned for more updates on our work.
We’re here! Grace Rwanda’s co-founder Elizabeth Johnson and President Paul Johnson arrived in Rwanda earlier this year to begin to set up our in-country headquarters for our growing charity.
It’s an exciting time for the organization. After some challenges, Grace Rwanda has secured our shipping container full of books and library supplies and we’re gearing up to open our next youth centre library in Kimisagara at the end of March.
Grace Rwanda is also setting up a brand new office near the capital, on the site of what will hopefully become the home of sister organization the social enterprise Ineza Foundation in future. Already, the team has been liaising with local governments, community organizations and Canadian government representatives on the ground, strengthening Grace Rwanda’s network and sharing our vision of literacy for Rwanda.
Have a read of our latest newsletter, Grace News, for all the latest from the field.
Once again, we’d like to thank all of our Canadian and international volunteers and supporters for helping us to achieve this next step for our organization. We’re proud of how far we’ve come and can’t wait to see all we can accomplish together in future.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was giving back and making a difference in the world, we can help.
Grace Rwanda is days away from an important move to establish an in-country office in Rwanda. We hope to be even more effective with our literacy and reading programming when we are on the ground and can create deep partnerships with locals and government.
We are on track to create two new youth centre libraries in Rwanda in 2016: first in Kimisagara, then Nyanza. With luck, we may be able to create a third library later in the year.
Of course, more programming takes more funding. So if you are looking at making a meaningful contribution to the world in 2016, visit our new Canada Helps charity page, and see how far your donations can go to provide new libraries for Rwanda this year.
No donation is too small. Remember, just $25 buys 10 primary school-level books, while $50 buys 10 secondary school-level books. Larger donations of $100 will provide 25 children with books, $200 will help 50 children and $400 will allow us to supply reading materials to 100 children and youth.
As always, your donations over $25 are fully tax-deductible. And 100 per cent of your donations go directly to our programs, as our organization is volunteer-run.
Visit Canada Helps to have a look at the good you can do, and help Rwandan youth have a very happy new year.
Dear Grace Rwanda supporter,
Noheli Nziza & Umwaka Mushya Muhire 2016!
We would like to thank you for your personal involvement, your generosity and your support which you have shown in so many ways this past year.
Thanks to your help with our most recent initiative, a 40-foot container for Grace Rwanda was shipped from B.C. on November 27th and is currently on the way to Rwanda. It is packed with more than 16,000 books, 3,000 dictionaries, 600 hygienic recyclable pads for girls, 30 sewing machines, numerous fabrics, over 100 teams soccer jerseys, and other supplies for our projects within Rwanda.
Our sincerest thanks to everyone who helped make this shipment possible. We’d like to acknoweldge all of our individual donors, and our partner organizations, which include Rotary International, District 5050, Rotary World Help Network, Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise, RR Plett Trucking, Lantrax Logistics, Canada Soccer, Days for Girls International, Riverside Sewing Bee Team, Power to Change, Focus on the Family, Mennonite Central Committee, plus many other private and public Schools and universities.
We appreciate your continuous support. Every donation you make will continue to help eradicate illiteracy in Rwanda. Join us in this life-changing initiative.
Please consider visiting our projects in the future to witness what we can accomplish together for the children of Rwanda.
Happy holidays from Grace Rwanda!