2010 INSPIRE!africa Volunteer Trip: an unforgettable experience
Dennis Ekvall“Rwanda is one of the cleanest developing countries we have ever been to. People take pride in what they have and value the education and aid they are getting. There is optimism and energy in this country which is inspiring in and of itself and it makes you feel like the effort you are making to help them out is energy well spent.”
As you know, a group of 9 from Calgary travelled to Rwanda from June 21 to July 3. It was a very rewarding and successful trip and we have many unforgettable and inspiring memories we will never forget.
Visiting Rwanda can be an emotional roller coaster because you hear many horrific stories of how some survived the genocide but this is combined with seeing the benefits of the projects we are supporting and hearing how survivors have hope thanks to INSPIRE!africa donors.
Following is a synopsis of our trip. Our detailed itinerary can be found here.
Learning Centre (LC)
Each morning we taught English to the 100+ orphan students who now attend the Learning Centre. We were delighted to see how the LC has grown and how so many are benefitting from it.
Teaching in small groups, our volunteers taught reading, writing and conversational English and had lots of opportunity to work with the students one to one.
This not only enabled the students to receive individualized feedback and coaching, but it also provided our volunteers with an opportunity to get to know the students on a personal level, forming lasting relationships.
We donated 6 large whiteboards for the classrooms and more laptop computers. This will bring our total laptops donated to the LC from Calgary Academy to 14. We also saw the students using the 50 desks and chairs which we have donated over the past 2 years.
We received a donation of enough uniforms to outfit over two full volleyball, basketball or soccer teams. The LC students were thrilled with the uniforms and they invited us to a volleyball and basketball game where they proudly sported these new uniforms.
We had lunch with all 6 orphaned students which INSPIRE!africa donors are sponsoring to attend university or secondary school. They shared with us how truly grateful they are for the gift of education.
We provided each of them with a laptop computer donated by Calgary Academy as well as some gifts from their sponsors. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a student, please let us know as there are many others who are waiting for sponsorship. (See below for further information.)
“It was very inspiring for us to see what a little support could do for these people to help them to help themselves. In almost all cases their dream was the same – to get to the point where they could provide for higher education for their children.”
D. Ekvall, trip participant
During the afternoons, we toured around Rwanda and visited the other projects that INSPIRE!africa is supporting. We saw how all the funds we have sent to Rwanda are making a difference.
For example, we visited a new sewing project where widows were making school uniforms with sewing machines we donated earlier this year. We were thrilled to learn that they have already made enough profit with these machines and have purchased more.
Now that’s what we call success!
It was very exciting to see the medical clinic in operation and the hospital beds and other equipment we have donated. We also met some of the beneficiaries of the many cows and goats we have donated.
Memorial Sites and Gorillas
In addition to teaching and visiting projects we also learned lots about the genocide from the various genocide memorials we visited. At some we were toured around the site by survivors and had the opportunity to lay a wreath at a mass grave.
Finally, we visited the gorillas, a highlight for anyone travelling to Rwanda. The country has done a wonderful job protecting the mountain gorillas, and it is comforting to learn that this primate population is increasing due to the efforts of the Rwandan people.
Annual Fundraiser: Save the Date
Our 4th Annual Fundraising Gala will be on Thursday November 18 at Webster Galleries located at 812 11th Ave SW Calgary from 4:30 to 7:00. At the Gala you will learn more about the 2010 Trip to Rwanda and how INSPIRE!africa is making a difference. We will have great food and entertainment along with a silent auction and cash bar.
Tickets will be available at the beginning of October. Stay tuned for more information.
We are looking for items for the silent auction at our November 18 fundraiser. If you have any items to donate, please let us know and we will arrange for pick-up.
Our facebook page is up and running, and we are pleased to have many of our Rwandan friends as members! Thanks to those that have already signed up, and if you haven’t - why not?
Here’s how to sign up:
- Go to www.facebook.com (you need a profile in order to do this)
- In the search box type INSPIRE!africa
- Click on the INSPIRE!africa group
- Next to the name INSPIRE!africa at the top of the page there will be a box with the word "join"
- Click on it and you are now a member!
- Remember to check back for updates from INSPIRE!africa
Looking for Sponsors for Rwandan Students
We are looking for sponsors to support orphans of the genocide to complete their secondary school education or attend university in Rwanda. This involves a commitment of 3-4 years depending on the student's program.
The costs vary but are approximately $2,500 per year. It is an amazing opportunity because you will have an opportunity to develop a relationship with your student through e-mail contact. If you cannot afford the cost on your own, why not consider getting a few friends or family members together to sponsor a student.
If you are interested in knowing more aboutsponsorship, please contact us.
Alix, Craig and Margaret