Thanks in large part to donors who have generously supported us, the past four months have been successful for Stories For Hope. With our new funds, we have been able to assemble two groups of girl orphans from Byumba and Nyamata (12 each). We are recruiting a group of 6 young advocates who have already participated in Stories for Hope. They will approach the young women, and a set of elders in each community who are willing to answer their questions about their families, and about the genocide and war. These elders will also talk about their own ways of surviving the conflicts.
In February, the Director will make a return visit to Rwanda, to meet with youth/elder pairs chosen by the advocates and community leaders, and implement our project. The second phase, to enlist these elders to help sponsor young girls into education and training, will be planned on that trip.
The New York Times (see link below) became interested in us, and a long article appeared about Patricia Pasick, our Director. This attracted the attention of several publishers who are looking at helping to publish some of the inspiring stories told and recorded, a total of 100 to date. More to come about that.
In December, we collected follow-up data from the group who participated in the project. An all-Rwandan team traveled to Byumba, to meet with those we recorded in June 2010. These young people, many of them orphans, have been exposed to much violence, and we are eager to learn whether hearing stories from their elders, has been helpful to their capacity for resilience, goal-setting, and family communication. That quantitative data is still being analyzed.
However, we have the impressions and more qualitative information from those who interviewed them. What they report is that all of the participants showed up for the follow-up; all report using the CDs of their stories to play for family members and neighbors. All describe very positive outcomes.
One young man, and his elder report that every Sunday after church, their friends and family members gather in the sitting room of their home, to play the CD again. That story contains a lot of talk about Rwanda's history, and how the genocide evolved. It also is a story about the need for reconciliation, and unity in the country.
We directed about $1000 toward this effort. Another report with the findings will be issued in the next month.
The other important news is that the 99 stories collected and recorded by Stories For Hope will now reside within the National Archives in Rwanda, available for any ordinary person to come and listen to.
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