Visit Grace Rwanda at Langley Family Fair this weekend

June 19, 2014  |  Events, General  |  No Comments

Family Day

Come by and visit Grace Rwanda at the Walnut Grove Family Day Fair this Saturday June 21, 10-4 p.m. at Walnut Grove Community Park.

We’ll be sharing a booth 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.

The event promises to be a fun day of festive food, kid crafts and activities like hot air balloon rides and bouncy castles, plus a great live music lineup — including children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond — all for just $2 admission for adults, $1 for children, or $5 per family.

Learn more at Wgba.ca/familyday. See you there!

What’s new with Grace Rwanda? Read our Spring/Summer 2014 Newsletter!

June 3, 2014  |  General, Newsletters  |  No Comments

Newsletter2014

We’re half-way through the year, and Grace Rwanda would like to share all that your kind support has helped us accomplish so far in 2014!

We’re grateful for the progress we have made this year bringing literacy to Rwanda’s youth with our new Kayonza YEGO youth centre library as well as book donations to needy elementaries and more.

Have a read of our latest Spring/Summer 2014 Newsletter to catch up with everything we’ve been up to.

We try hard to keep our supporters in the loop. Want to learn more?

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

Have fun with Grace Rwanda this summer!

May 25, 2014  |  Events, General  |  1 Comment
Elizabeth Johnson in Rwanda in 2014 making peace with genocide perpetrators. Photo: Jordan Levine.

Elizabeth Johnson in Rwanda, 2014. Photo: Jordan Levine.

Summer’s coming, but the Grace Rwanda team isn’t on vacation. We’re hard at work preparing for upcoming projects and events.

First, a big thank you to everyone who voted for Elizabeth Johnson in the recent Canadian Immigrant Top 25 contest. The voting has now closed and the results will be announced June 24. We’re hoping Elizabeth wins the recognition she deserves!

We’ve been staying busy with community talks.

Elizabeth visited Heritage Woods Secondary School in Port Moody last week and gave a moving talk to students about her past in Rwanda, her recent visit, and the work of Grace Rwanda. If you’d like Elizabeth to speak at your school or community event please email her at elizabeth@gracerwanda.org. Take a look to at our newly revamped Toonies4Change.org web site to learn more about our school programs!

And Grace Rwanda will be out and about in the community this summer.

Look for us at the Walnut Grove Family Day event on Saturday, June 21. Stay tuned for details.

And please also come by and visit us at the Langley International Festival and Canada Day celebration from June 28-July 1. Check back for more information.

And if you’d like to get more involved in volunteering with the Grace Rwanda team this summer, please let us know. We’re having our end-of-fiscal-year board meeting on Sunday, June 1 in Langley from 4-6 p.m. New volunteers are always welcome! We gladly work with the skills you offer and the time you have. It’s a great way to get involved in your community and for students to earn school volunteering credits. Contact Elizabeth at elizabeth@gracerwanda.org to attend.

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 in focus in upcoming documentary film

May 7, 2014  |  General  |  No Comments

Liz with kids1

At Grace Rwanda we love inspiring Rwandan youth to read. We also love telling stories to inspire Canadians to reach out to help Rwandans.

That’s one of the reasons our recent spring trip to Rwanda was so exciting: it was documented on film so that we can share our message with a wider audience. We think seeing the impact of our efforts on the ground will help others understand the power of Grace Rwanda’s literacy work.

UBC PhD student and volunteer videographer Jordan Levine accompanied Elizabeth Johnson and the Grace Rwanda team on our recent distribution trip to the country and is preparing a documentary film about our organization. Levine is studying international development issues at UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues. He is a co-founder of the Institute’s International Development Research Network, and he is also a freelance videographer with Transliminal Media and a skilled photographer: the photo above is his work.

Here’s what he had to say about his experience:

“With respect to the work Elizabeth and her local collaborators are doing through Grace Rwanda, all I can say is that it is truly invaluable, and viscerally inspiring for the children and youth who are directly empowered through the access to libraries, e-readers, laptops and the growing array of indigenous literature that they would otherwise never see… Rural Rwanda has a long way to go to reach full literacy, and succeed, as per Elizabeth’s goal of cultivating a permanent indigenous reading culture… But with people like Elizabeth and her local Rwanda supporters working hard on their side, Rwandan youth have never had a better chance of success on that front.”

We are looking for additional funding and/or sponsorship to help Jordan complete his documentary, which will serve as an invaluable educational tool for Grace Rwanda for years to come. Jordan is also looking for any student volunteers with experience logging footage to assist in this effort. If you are interested in helping this special film get made, please contact us at info@gracerwanda.org or jlevine@interchange.ubc.ca.

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’s reconciliation message on CBC Vancouver

April 28, 2014  |  General  |  No Comments

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Earlier this month, to mark the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide, Grace Rwanda co-founders Elizabeth Johnson and Marie Louise Kaligirwa were interviewed by CBC Radio Canada in Vancouver.

In their on-air interviews, the pair gave moving accounts of their own histories and messages of reconciliation. If you speak French, take a moment to listen to their interviews and reflect on how far Rwanda has come in the two decades since genocide devastated the nation.

You can listen to Elizabeth’s radio interview here. Then, watch a clip from Marie Louise’s television interview here.

Elizabeth also received media coverage in a recent issue of Trinity Western University‘s Alumni Association publication, in a column titled, Grace in the Midst of Genocide. Take a moment to read her moving first-person story about her journey to forgiveness.

We’re proud of our founders for sharing these healing words and showing how Grace Rwanda is contributing to Rwanda’s rebuilding and rebirth!

For anyone looking to participate in genocide reconciliation events, there will be a moderated panel held at the University of Victoria at the Bob Wright Centre on May 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. Speakers include Dr. Susan Bissell, Canada’s top United Nations official, and Mrs. Shakilla Umutoni of the High Commission of the Republic of Rwanda to Canada. Learn more about the event here.

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

We’re helping create a literacy movement in Rwanda

April 11, 2014  |  General  |  No Comments

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Grace Rwanda co-founder Elizabeth Johnson is on her way back from Rwanda and she reports that the team made great strides. Not only did they set up our second library and distribute school books, but the team also took steps to create a network of literacy partners to build an even stronger foundation for the future.

On March 20th Grace Rwanda partnered with Rwanda Library Services to hold a workshop educating a dozen local NGOs and government departments about literacy promotion and library outreach strategies that could be used to improve youth reading skills, especially in rural areas. Grace Rwanda was happy to be involved in facilitating this collaboration. We’re working together to create a national literacy movement!

Elizabeth also reports that the March 15th opening of the Kayonza YEGO youth centre community library drew incredible support from the community, and earned the attention of local dignitaries who are getting behind our cause.

More than 500 people attended, including two members or parliament, the mayor of Kayonza, the director of Rwanda’s Library Service and delegates from two government ministries, in addition to district officials, business executives and leaders from local churches and schools.

To mark the occasion, two local soccer teams played a demonstration match wearing jerseys donated to Grace Rwanda by the Canadian national women’s soccer league. We shipped 45 boxes of jerseys in all: we’ll donate two team sets to every youth centre library we open in future. Everyone was thrilled with the library, which was stocked with 2,000 books, Rotary-donated dictionaries, 10 e-readers and four laptops.

We’re building incredible support in Rwanda for Grace Rwanda’s vision of creating a new generation of readers. Thanks so much for being part of making our dream a reality.

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