Shop for social good with Grace Rwanda at local craft fair

October 4, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments

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Make sure to put supporting literacy on your gift list this season!

Grace Rwanda will be selling unique African crafts that can help change a child’s life at the upcoming 28th Annual St. Thomas Aquinas Christmas Craft Fair!

The funds we raise will go toward creating our next YEGO youth centre libraries to help children in rural Rwanda access books, magazines, newspapers, computers and e-readers. This access to resources and introduction to literacy is life-changing for many youth!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Vancouver craft fair at 541 West Keith Road.

Join us, along with more than 100 other local artisans and exhibitors at the fair. You’ll be sure to find something for everyone on your holiday gift list. It’s a great community event and we’d be delighted to see you there. More than 2,000 visitors came out last year. Admission is only $2 and parking is free.

Learn more online at Aquinas Christmas Craft Fair

You can get regular updates by following @GraceRwanda, liking us on Facebook, adding us in your Google+ circle, and watching our videos on YouTube.

Grace Rwanda helps Rwanda Read in national literacy week

September 23, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments
Elizabeth Johnson and Kayonza's Vice-Mayor present a youth with an award for participation in Rwanda Reads events at Kayonza YEGO Youth Centre Library Sept. 12.

Elizabeth Johnson and Kayonza’s Vice-Mayor present a youth with an award for participation in Rwanda Reads events at the Kayonza YEGO Youth Centre Library on Sept. 12.

Grace Rwanda co-founder Elizabeth Johnson is back from a busy and successful trip to Rwanda to participate in the country’s Rwanda Reads campaign. The nationwide, week-long literacy event was held to mark UNESCO’s International Literacy Day in early September. Our participation greatly increased our profile with the country’s literacy leaders and met our mission of spreading a love of reading among Rwandan youth. Check out our Flickr page for more photos of the events!

First off, Grace Rwanda hosted a booth at the main International Literacy Day celebrations at the Kigali Public Library on Sept. 8 where we conducted outreach and awareness. We were delighted when the Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza, officially recognized Grace Rwanda for our work. Have a read of this news report to learn more.

We also participated in the official Rwanda Reads symposium on Sept. 10 at Kigali’s Novotel Hotel, hosted by USAID, Save the Children, and the Rwandan Ministry of Education. The theme of the national effort was Stand Up for Literacy: Duhagurukire Gusoma. At this event, we networked and shared strategies with 30 other agencies. We also awarded the 12 winners of the country’s “Andika Rwanda” youth writing competition, with gift packs of school supplies and dictionaries to further their literacy progress.

Later in the week, Grace Rwanda hosted two events at the youth libraries we’ve funded. First at our Muhanga YEGO Centre Library on Sept. 11, and then at the Kayonza branch on Sept. 12. The events included professional storyteller presentations, poem and story writing, literacy plays, and reading competitions. The 25 winners at each site were awarded dictionaries, thanks to donations from the Rotary Clubs of Langley Sunrise and North Delta. Among the distinguished attendees were the vice-mayor of social affairs and a representative from the Rwanda Library.

Elizabeth heard repeatedly from local youth about the difference our two Grace Rwanda-funded libraries made in their lives. “Every child we talked to was very happy that they have a library where they can come and read and do homework using the dictionaries and even access the internet and use e-readers,” she said.

Towards the end of the trip, Elizabeth met with high level government officials, including Rwanda’s Minister of State for the Ministry of Education, Olivier Rwamukwaya, and officials at the Canadian Consulate, working to foster more partnerships and secure local funding. She also continued to raise Grace Rwanda’s profile in the media, giving an interview for Rwanda TV that was broadcast on the local Utuntu n’Utundi show in Kinyarwanda.

In all, it was an exciting trip that furthered our on-the-ground literacy promotion goals and built bridges with officials that should bear fruit for our future projects!

Grace Rwanda speaks at SFU conference on diaspora and development

September 16, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments

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Grace Rwanda’s co-founder Elizabeth Johnson will be speaking at a Simon Fraser University conference on diaspora communities and sustainable development on Sept. 20th.

Johnson will be facilitating one of the panels for the inaugural conference, titled, “Diaspora, Sustainability, and Development: Meeting at the Nexus.”

The event is being hosted by SFU‘s Centre for Sustainable Community Development, the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement, the School of International Studies and the Faculty of Environment’s Development and Sustainability Program.

Among the panel themes are “Diaspora as Agents of Change,” “Diaspora Driven Development,” and “Networks and Loops for Change and Innovation.” For more information visit the conference web site.

The conference is a great opportunity for us to share ideas with experts and academics on harnessing the power of diaspora communities in Canada to create social change and launch sustainable development projects abroad.

If you are interested in the program, which runs Saturday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can register online here.

Grace Rwanda is in Kigali for International Literacy Day

September 2, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments

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Grace Rwanda’s co-founder Elizabeth Johnson is en route to Kigali, Rwanda, this week to participate in national events held in honour of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day on Sept. 8th.

Grace Rwanda was specifically invited by the Rwandan Ministry of Education to participate in their Rwanda Reads Assembly on Sept. 10th. While on the ground, we will join in on a week’s worth of national literacy initiatives, reading promotion programs, and networking with literacy organizations all working to promote a culture of reading in Rwanda.

We were honoured to be invited and hope our participation raises our profile in the country and helps us connect with partners who can further our cause. While there, Elizabeth will also attend events hosted at our Grace Rwanda-funded Muhanga and Kayonza YEGO Youth Centre Libraries. Stay tuned for pictures from the field!

Speaking of the Muhanga library, the YEGO youth library we created there just celebrated its first year of operation! We are proud to share that according to the annual report sent to us from library coordinator Josephine Umuhoza, our library served more than 1,209 youth in its first year.

The facility is now hoping to renew its subscriptions of magazines, newspapers and periodicals, which expire shortly, to continue to offer great reading material to local youth. To do so will require another $1,200 in funding. If you would like to see these valuable resources continued you can help us provide them by visiting our donate page.

Donors like you are the reason the spark of reading is catching fire in Rwanda! Thank you for all your support!

Grace Rwanda partners with the African Storybook Project

August 22, 2014  |  General  |  No Comments

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You know the old saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Collaboration is so important in achieving child development goals. In our line of literacy work, you could say it takes a library to raise a reader.

That’s why Grace Rwanda makes an effort to partner with other literacy-promotion projects whenever we can — to reach our goals of raising a generation of Rwandan readers that much faster.

Our latest collaboration is with a wonderful non-profit organization called the African Storybook Project.

The project, an initiative of the South African Institute for Distance Education, offers free downloadable stories and reading resources for children and educators that provide early readers with stories in their own African languages with familiar cultural touch points, to improve literacy.

Educators can also create and upload or translate new stories for use as well as download and print books for free. They are working with teachers and librarians at 14 pilot sites in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho.

Grace Rwanda has signed a memorandum of understanding with SAIDE and will be working to get some of these stories available in Kinyarwanda. Plus we’ll be promoting the resource to our own partner schools and new youth centre libraries. Check out their web site and have a read!

This is just one of the initiatives we are working on in the run up to this year’s UNESCO International Literacy Day, held this year on Monday September 8th.

Grace Rwanda has been invited to join in a week-long literacy campaign and symposium to mark the event to be held in Rwanda by Rwanda Library Services. We’re still in the planning stages, but hoping we can participate and involve our two newest youth centre libraries. In the meantime, you can read up on UNESCO International Literacy Day and how to support global youth literacy efforts.

Visit Grace Rwanda at Langley Canada Day

June 26, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments

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Summer is in full swing and Grace Rwanda is out in the community socializing.

This weekend, come by and visit Grace Rwanda at the Langley Canada Day celebrations at Willoughby Community Park near the Langley Events Centre.

We’ll be sharing a booth again with the Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise, who have been exceptional supporters of our cause. Stop by and check out our Rwandan crafts, chat with us about what’s new or learn how you can get involved. We’d love to share our experiences with you.

The event promises to be a fun weekend, running from June 28 to July 1. Saturday and Sunday feature sporting events during the day, while Monday features a night market with music and food from around the world, which runs from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Canada Day, July 1, the festivities — including children’s activities, rides, live entertainment, pony rides, car show and dog show — run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and end with fireworks.

Visit Internationalfestival.ca and Langleycanadada.ca to learn more. Hope to see you there!