COVID-19  Rwanda Project #46640

Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda

by Rwanda-one4one
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Pandemic Aid for Families in Rwanda
Washing dishes and clean-up
Washing dishes and clean-up

Rwandan families all share in the household duties, from the youngest to the elders. There are many tasks in their daily lives including gathering firewood for cooking, fetching water at the village well, tending the vegetable garden, washing clothes, sweeping the house and outside work areas, and washing the dishes after meals. The families we work with take great pride in their homes and personal care. Teaching the children these fundamentals brings responsibility as they grow up. 

All of the children in our education program are still attending school and are so grateful for the gift of an education. Amidst the lockdowns and re-openings this year they have been able to continue their studies through at-home schooling as well as in-school when possible. Their grades are average to above average and we are so proud of them for strivng despite their daily challenges. Some of the children have long walks to school each day and must leave quite early in order to be on time for the opening bell. 

Due to travel restrictions during the pandemic we have been unable to take fabric into Rwanda for the ladies to dye Umva product. Rwanda has no source for fabrics so we rely on sources outside of the country. We can't ship the fabric because the shipping and handling costs are exhorbitant.. We are exploring other options; the most viable is to send fabric with other travelers who may be able to go, such as Rwandan students at US universities. If we can move more fabrics for dyeing we will increase the income the ladies can earn. Please keep us in mind if you or someone you know is planning travel to Rwanda and would consider bringing along some fabric. 

Especially, we are thankful for your support as we navigate new ways to move the mission of Rwanda-one4one forward. Rwanda is a land-locked country on a continent full of struggle yet we believe the effort is worthy as is evidenced by the smiles on the faces of our children and their parents and guardians.

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Grandmother and great grandchildren
Grandmother and great grandchildren
Our taxi entrepreneur is driving again, but as of June 23, inter-province travel has been shut down again due to a sharp rise in COVID cases. A recent volcano eruption and earthquakes drove many Congolese into Rwanda, complicating matters, and neighboring Uganda's cases are soaring. Many travelers coming into Rwanda are testing positive. 

Thankfully, schools are still open, so our children are focused on their studies and getting school meals. The family to whom we made a loan to build a modest house has finished it as best they can for now and made their first payment to us. We all hope the new restrictions do not impact their ability to earn income and make their payments, but it will be challenging. 

We don't yet know if we will be able to make the planned September visit to bring fabric for the dyers given all the changing dynamics. For now, we continue to provide additional support to make up for their lost income.
We could do none of this without your support. Thank you for sticking with us through this most difficult time.

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High school cousins
High school cousins

As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of the Covid pandemic, all of us at Rwanda-one4one recognize we are only as strong as you, our caring community of supporters. You give with your hearts and put your trust in our ability to deliver hope to the Rwandan families we serve.

It is a blessing that no one in our Rwandan families has become ill from Covid-19. The children are all back in school, thankfully. We receive their report cards and many are receiving above average grades. They do not have to worry about missing school due to lack of funds, and they are able to enjoy school meals again.

Unfortunately, schools have raised fees almost 30% since reopening to cover pandemic-related expenses. The financial strain on families that could barely afford the fees before has caused many children to have to leave school. If it were not for our donor funded education project, the children in our families would also be at home. Thank you so much for recognizing the value of a good education for Rwandan youth!

We also continue our focus on health, both physical and mental, for the families we support. The stress and worry during this uncertainty have caused issues that need medical attention. The silver lining in all of this is that Rwanda has, thus far, been spared a heavy infection rate. 

Our founder, Nancy Zeller, has made all the travel preparations to travel to Rwanda in September. The women will be able to create more Umva wearable products, and the visit will do all the families good. She brings reading eyeglasses, donated cellphones and laptops, and other necessities. (If you have a generation 5 or later cell phone you can donate, let us know!) All are eager for the visit and to get to work creating Umva one-of-a-kind originals. When Nancy returns, she will prepare to showcase Umva textiles at a New York trade show in October.

It is often said in Rwanda: “it is hard but not impossible” and that is how we must continue our work in this unprecedented time. If they can endure their hardships, we can bring solutions and hope whenever possible.

New life and hope
New life and hope

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Thank you!
Thank you!

Back in the spring of 2020 when we first began the Pandemic Food Relief project for our Rwandan families, we thought it would be needed for a few months - perhaps through the end of the year. Of course, as the virus has continued to spread and new variants have appeared throughout the world, the hardship for these families, already struggling, endures. We have increased our goal so that we can continue to provide food relief as well as some medical support for families suffering from stress-related illnesses as a result of the pandemic's impact on their lives and livelihoods. 

Your ongoing generous support of this special effort is critical and profoundly appreciated. With your gifts we have been able to assure that our families have at least two healthy meals a day, whereas before our help they were struggling to afford even one. With the children back in school, they are able to access school-provided meals, but that does not help the adults.

Our board met in January and committed to continue our efforts to provide monthly food relief until the families we support are able to regain their hard-earned incomes as the lockdown eases. We could not do this without your steadfast support. Thanks to you all, including our generous monthly donors who help us plan our cash flow in support of these incredibly proud and hardworking families.

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Mariya preparing eggplant and rice
Mariya preparing eggplant and rice

For most Rwandans, every day is hard work, yet during the pandemic every effort is compounded. Not only is it harder to work and pay for essentials, but social distancing and mask wearing are especially difficult in a culture where close physical contact is the norm. It is the custom in Rwanda to reach out in passing, to greet neighbors, family and friends with a touch, or a cheek to cheek hello. It is difficult for our families to resist this natural behavior, but they are trying hard and learning to cope with the requirements. 

Despite this cultural challenge, Rwanda is managing the pandemic well. The government is strict about citizens' adherence to the guidelines. Presently it is the rainy season in Rwanda - their "winter" - when it is colder and wetter than usual. Yet the number of cases remains extremely low and the recovery rate is strong. For that we are very relieved and thankful - a silver lining amidst this pandemic. 

For the past 8 months, through your generous support, we have been able to provide a modest monthly food allowance for ten families, plus medical support for several minor illnesses. Our families have suffered psychological stress due to isolation and the fear of contracting Covid-19. This anxiety has caused some stomach and heart issues, all thankfully treatable.

Your continued support for this temporary relief is helping these vulnerable families make it to the other side when we all hope to find a new normal. We are all so grateful for you!

Mariya on a Sunday afternoon
Mariya on a Sunday afternoon

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Organization Information

Rwanda-one4one

Location: Westmoreland, NH - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @rwanda-one4one
Project Leader:
Nancy Zeller
Westmoreland, NH United States
$7,384 raised of $9,000 goal
 
130 donations
$1,616 to go
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