Saturday, March 31, 2007

Each one reach one. We can make a difference.

Passport Arrived today

Thanks to an amazing woman named Sue, my passport arrived this morning....perfectly timed for my departure tomorrow! My passport had expired in February and given the backlog, I didn't want to chance it until I knew I had the trip confirmed. In church tonight I had a moment to pause and embrace a spirit of thankfulness that I am able to make this journey again. I am sure that it will really hit me tomorrow when I board the plane. Until then there is much to accomplish

Friday, March 30, 2007

Supplies are set. Looking for donations to have some clothes made.

Thanks to all of the people that donated supplies for this trip. The response has been terrific. My friend and neighbor Danette spent the evening helping me prioritize and pack. We are only allowed 50 lbs per bag, so it's tough making decisions. We prioritized medicine first. Then clothes for the new kids that have home to the second home with only the clothes on their backs. The great news is 2 wonderful young ladies are going to spend the month of July helping so we know we'll be able to get the supplies there in a short period of time. We also have a plan to bless the staff that works so hard. Each have about 2 pair of clothes. We have 2 mommies, 5 aunties and 2 uncles so to speak. Our plan is to raise enough money to have a tailored outfit made for each of them for Easter. Thus far we have raised $140. If you care help, please let me know and I will cover your IOU> Chantal's uncle passed away yesterday, so please keep then in your prayers.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Heading Back to Rwanda this Sunday. A year later, I return to the people and land that captured my heart. A year later, I come to fully realize that God has a plan for me to continue the work there. For those of you who are new to this journey…here is a little background. Last year I felt God calling me to help the people of Africa. Certainly the media and people like Bono and Oprah have created a real awareness for the people of this continent which is 4x the size of the US. My initial calling is to a tiny spec of a country – Rwanda and the tiniest of its people…the precious orphans. Quick facts on the country: The genocide of 1994 killed 1 million people in 100 days. Imagine a country the size of Maryland with 10,000 people being killed in a very personal way (with machetes) one on one. Imagine the 300,000 orphans left behind with 85,000 of them creating their own home units…a 6 year old raising a 2 year old. Imagine that the Rwanda of today has 1 million orphans, an average household income of $210 a year and the distinction of being one of five countries in the world with a life expectancy under 50. 47 for men, 46 for women. Imagine a country with a thousand hills filled with hearts full of hope. Imagine that we can make a difference. Meet Mbanda and Chantal. Mbanda fled the country in 1954 as a 4 year old. He was raised in a refugee settlement going to school under a tree. At age 20 he decided there had to be a better life. He decided it needed to come via education. His instincts told him to hope for a brighter future. He walked for 6 months to Nairobi. Imagine leaving all that you know with not a penny in your pocket and setting out in search of your future. Simultaneously a 27 year old woman in Indiana heard about Mbanda from some people in her church who were doing mission work in his refugee settlement. She got the $600 that she had just received as wedding gift money to him and… forward. Mbanda graduated with a Phd from the States and spent 21 years here with is wife Chantal and their 4 kids. A year ago they returned to Rwanda to complete the circle. Chantal has felt a real calling to serve the orphans. We are doing it in a very personal way. We’re stting up homes. Not orphanages. Truly homes… 10 kids under 5 per home, a mommy, and aunties (staff). The first home opened February of 06 and the second one a year later, just last month. The kids receive all that they will need to thrive. Love, faith, education, medical needs etc. We take the kids as we receive them. All come with medical needs, some greater than others. I have spent the last year telling their story and raising money. Together we have done remarkable things. The kids in my neighbor raised enough money to send 2 kids to school for a year. That’s $660 from a water and lemonade stand near the Edina art fare! We have people donating $50/month to help sponsor the basic needs of a child. We have people donating $310 to pay for the education of a child in a private school so they can actually excel as the government run schools have 75 kids per classroom. One of our kids…Fabiola is actually #1 in her class! Thanks to the generosity some a wonderful man and his family, we have purchased 2 cows that ensure the kids get all the milk they need to grow strong. A big change from a year ago when they only go 1/2 cup a day! We’ve added goats for widows and are raising money for a garden so they can get fresh fruits and vegetables. The intent is to sell the incremental milk and veggies to help offset the costs of running the home. The daughter of someone I work with is going to spend the month of July helping the kids. Chantal has no formal training as she set out on this mission. Just a mother’s love. When I was there a year ago I met a mom who was dying and came to give her two kids to us and say goodbye. I promised then to do my part to ensure that had a chance at a happy life. I met a 4 year old who weighed just 28 pounds when she came to us…the same as the one year old we had. This is a story of hope of a future. Hence the names of our homes New Hope Homes. Last year this week, I got on a plane knowing nothing about where I was heading or who I would meet. A year later I board the plane with a sense of purpose, a sense of thankfulness for the many people who have contributed time, prayers and/or money. I mostly welcome your prayers for all those that are trying to make the dream of a future come true. If you would like to help financially, I would be happy to accept your tax deductible donation: Please make your check to CALM c/o Donna Wiederkehr 5217 Abbott Ave South Mpls MN 55410. I will return with their stories and continue to spread the word. We hope to have the website constructed by early summer. I’ve never been good about asking people for money for anything…but when it comes to these kids, I know that the need is real and the results to date remarkable. Money goes from your hands, to mine to theirs. We hope to have 2 more homes built in the next year or two, thus caring for 40 kids. As I said in the beginning. It’s a small spec of help in the world…but to these kids we are everything. No story about Rwanda is complete without acknowledging the genocide currently taking place in Darfur. Please go to and learn more. They offer simple ways to help like notifying you when there is key vote pending on congress or the US. It is also a great resource to stay up to date on the issues. It’s real. It’s the first time that the US has acknowledged genocide WHILE it is happening…vs acts of genocide. You can make a difference. Please get educated on the issue. I will again share my photographic journey with anyone who is interested. You can also stay current on my blog at Blessings and thanks Donna Wiederkehr 612.791.4800