Saturday, December 31, 2011

It was a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS at New Hope Homes today!

The day started early. The big boys got up early and spent hours cleaning the classroom. They made it shiny clean. Really. It practically sparkled. I was so very proud of them. .

Then we working on measuring some feet for the kids to see how much they had grown in the past 4 months. .

Harv is a HUGE hit. The kids love him and he they. .

Meanwhile, Abby was up early baking cutout cookies. Ahh, so much loved went into today. .

Eventually all the kids came up and everyone got some tinsel and tossed it at the same time...when we hit…And a Happy New Year in the Merry Christmas song. .

Abby brought her guitar and led the kids in Away in the Manger; We wish you a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells. It was great fun. .

Then importantly….Erica joined us and talked to the kids about the meaning of Christmas and asked them lots of questions to ensure today was about celebrating the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. We talked about the fact that Jesus was the best gift and the other gifts there were getting today were not things that we deserved, and they shouldn’t expect them every year. We talked about sometimes we have sponsors who have some money to help and sometimes for this Christmas we would be thankful that there were people who could help make Christmas a bit more special for them. .

THEN came extra fun. 2 by 2 the kids came to chairs in front of the Christmas tree and held their beautiful bag that Deb made for each of them with their name on the outside, a picture of one of her kitty’s in the pocket and then their presents inside. It was precious beyond words. I will post more photos when I get back, but for now, just know that each gift bag was perfect. Shoes, PJs, undies, socks, an outfit and of course…their present. THANK YOU all who went out their way to help make this Christmas so extra special for them. .

Then we had a little catered lunch so Emmanuel didn’t have to cook. A real treat for them. Abby helped us order from a place that did beef kabobs and chips (French fries) .

THEN, as if that wasn’t enough fun. Abby let each child frost their own cookies. They were so yummy and kids had a great time frosting them and of course got it all over their faces. EXCELLENT FUN! .

The little kids then went down to the 2nd and 3rd homes to take a nap and the rain began. It poured and poured and poured and poured. I keep filling bucket from the roof pipe to refill our buckets that we use to wash. Water is such a gift and fresh rain water is especially good. .

Our skyping time was great. We talked to Ian and Kristen and again and they told the boys about a Chelsea match they could watch tonight if we skyped in with them. Ian was awesome. He created a livemeeting we could login to and they they watched. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the Chelsea game so they settled for Arsnels..their nasty rivels! .

The walk back to the 1st home was a muddy slippery climb up the hill, but all did it. Nothing like walking in the dark carrying stuff and hoping to continue to go UP...not down. ☺ .

2 more hours and we’ll be ringing in the New Year here in Rwanda. We thank you for sharing our journey and we’ll say a prayer that your new year will be blessed beyond measure. .

Donna, Harv, Abby, Erica and the Kids of New Hope Homes.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Harv is in the House!

The day started with a visit from Mommy and Auntie Erica. They kids were so happy to see them again having spent Christmas with them a few days back.

Erica and I then ran some errands and ended up running into the Mbanda Brothers. as you will see in the pic, I’m a bit shorter then them!!!

We then connected up with Abby and started our planning for Christmas – which will be tomorrow!!!! YEAH.

Harv arrived with the last round of bags so we are ready to rock. Abby taught school again and I spent the night cuddling with each of our little kids for 10-15 mins at time. I sat in the chair and one by one they came for their quality time. Sweet precious time.

A special part of our day was skyping with Tina and Kristen & Ian. They know the kids so well now that is makes for easy silly chatting.

Tonight Harv arrived so the kids…especially the boys are super excited. I can tell he is already a natural. He has a cool iphone app that shows the constellations in the sky. It was a perfect lesson after we learned about the planets yesterday.

A short report tonight as tomorrow is Christmas and we have much to do!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Isaac cooking for me! And the kids jumping for joy!

Science Class with Miss Abby

Science Class with Miss Abby

Ahh, life is good at New Hope Homes

Ahh, life is good at New Hope Homes I arrived at 8 pm last night to the welcoming arms of Abby who surprised me by meeting me at the airport with my driver.

Thankfully I made it through customs without a hassle this time. I guess it pays to only bring 5 bags vs 12 bags like last Christmas. Thanks to Harv for for bringing the next two bags in two days.

It exciting to have him join me. Harv and I worked together about 4 years ago and stopped by my Christmas Party Fund Raiser for New Hope Homes. He talked about joining me sometime. When my trip got delayed by a few weeks, I let him know and voila…he decided to join me with just a few days notice. Gotta love a spirit of spontaneity.

Abby and I quickly dropped the bags at the first home and then practically ran down the hill to see the kids. It was like a echo effect as the first child saw us an yelled our names…then the next, then the next, then the next and then they all came running with hugs and kisses. It feels so wonderful to be amidst all this love.

It was raining really hard so we decided that Abby should stay with us vs walking down to get at motobike ride back to her house. Thus it was a big slumber party. The boys were crazy, silly, laughing in their bunk beds. Every time I went in they would pretend like they were sleeping. Then the minute I stepped out the giggles began again. Ahhh, ya, the silliness is one of my favorite parts.

This morning I again went to immigration to try to advance my case for citizenship. The process started 1 year ago this month, so I have learned patience. If they grant it to me, it would be a miracle as I meet all qualifications but one. I don’t own any land or run a business. They have all the proper referrals from the local mayor etc, but they don’t seem to fully understand the value in investing in our kids and aunties, uncles etc vs land. Tomorrow I meet with the ‘big boss’ to see if he will reconsider my case.

Abby then met me at Nakumatt the Kmart of Rwanda, then we did some errands including a nice visit with Abraham who owns a souvenir store. Abby decided we needed to check out a new restaurant run by a Canadian. Burgers and Fries…I kid you not! Wow things have changed in the past 5.5 years.

The afternoon was spent watching Abby teach the kids some wonderful science lessons. They wanted to learn about Space. Thanks to Kristen Cavallo for sending us some great books. They learned the order of the planets relative to the sun, then were assigned one to study and draw a picture. They then stood in line in the proper order. Abby is such a great teacher!

She then left to go play with some friends and I continued the fun. We walked down to the 2nd and 3rd homes to find the Aunties singing and playing with the kids. It is hard to put into words the joy of seeing our Aunties work so joyfully with our kids. The perpetual motion is something that you can only understand if you were here…speaking of…who wants to come in April, August or December of 2012!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It’s the simple things that matter.

We all know it, but here with these children, it is really apparent. It’s the simple things that matter. Holding a child who has fallen. Reading to another. Listening to a child read. Playing hand games. Playing peek a boo. Kicking a ball. Just holding a child. It matters. It’s make our kids feel like they are now safe and loved.

I wish I had more arms and legs as each is full to over flowing each day. Particularly with the little kids who are about 18 months to 5 years old. As much as I try, it is impossible to really give any child the attention they really need. Sometimes I think I should just set a 30 min timer and be intentional about it….but as you know…these are kids and it doesn’t work that way. If they want to talk or all jump on you…than so be it. If I am sitting on the stoop I usually have 2 playing with my hair. 1 on each thigh, 1 or 2 on my legs or feet and 2 standing in line or playing with my hands. It is perpetual motion all the time.

Yes, that means if you cared to join me on a trip, then your arms would be full too!

It’s been especially wonderful the last two trips to see how the babies are becoming young girls and boys. Dorcus, Ariena, and Mbaba came to us as babies. Now they understand English and clearly have a pov about life. Each of the kids have their own personalities and it’s good to see them develop. The big kids 9-11 year olds require such different things now vs 5 years ago. They 'tolerate' the group sing alongs, but they would rather be talking football (soccer), on a computer trying to learn math or English or of course…trying to get me to let them have my iphone or local phone to play games. I have been on a bit of a crackdown on this trip – limiting this type of time. Sometimes I hate the fact that I introduced them to technology and greatly increased their dvd movie selection. Gone are the early days where we didn’t have power at night and had to sit around a candle or in the dark to entertain ourselves. Now it’s head down in technology or asking to watch a movies. At the same I do fully recognize the importance of these kids learning computer skills that will help them advance here in school and beyond….so yes, I advance the ball.

I took an early morning walk today….abut 5:30AM hoping to beat the rush before the kids stirred. Of course it was a silly gamble as Prince and Innocent were already in classroom on the computers. I said a quick hello and tried to exit. The gate is always locked and the “uncle” who guards it at night was asleep and the hideout access was not available. I felt terrible about disturbing him but his reply was ‘nah-chee-ba-zo”…no problem Miss Donna.

The bulk of the people here get around on foot. The early morning time is especially busy. Heading in a new direction, the ‘moozoongo’ (white person – me) created a bit more stir than normal. The others in the ‘hood’ have come to know that I am always around and about. I went to check out Abby’s new find. Some American’s apparently have a bagel shop near our place. Bagels? Ya gotta be kidding me. On Saturdays they convert to donuts. I found the shop knowing that it would be too early and didn’t have any francs on me, but it was fun to know it’s there for future visitors/volunteers.

The journey continued up and down the hills. I love this place. On my return I stopped by the Mayor’s office for a visit with my friends there. The line up of visitors all stare as I pass by. I greet them good morning and say hi to all the people I know. It’s pretty funny to see their reaction. I was surprised today that the Mayor’s Assistant – Louise – had a gift for me. I am so used to be the one handing out things, that it really touched my heart. She had two sweet necklaces all wrapped in a white paper with my named nicely written on it. I was so thankful for her kindness. She kept laughing at my response because it was over the top from her point of view. All that she asked is that I take a photo of me wearing it and email it to her. These people never cease to amaze me.

So, that’s the report for today. No exciting stories or adventures…but some times that’s exactly the point of being here. Simply being present.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some dear kids in the hood that have a bit tougher life than we do! Washing hands before lunch. Some of the girls helping me with my wash. Ok, they actually did it all! But it was their request I promise. Chantal, Donna and some of the big kids.

Love is in the air

Got to bed by 11 pm last night so I got a great night sleep before the house got rocking at 6:30 am.

The girls decided they would help me with the wash. I feel like Tom Sawyer, but they really do like it. It’s always a great time for chat and songs. I continue to work on my Kinyrawranda so it’s nice having a captive audience to teach me. It’s a tonal language so while I may have the sounds right, the tone and volume of them are often wrong and creates much humor for them. It’s hard! Their favorite thing is when I try and try and still get it wrong that I finally motion like “I’ve got it”. Then they lean in to listen…….suddenly I make up a lot of mumble jumble and always add pancakes. They laugh and laugh…”missy donna, why do you always say pancakes?”. They like pancakes and they think it is a funny word, so I like to entertain them.

The rest of the day was spent in love and love with lots of arms wrapped around me and me around! The love here is present. If ever you are down, know that time spent with the kids of New Hope Homes will make all the difference in the world. They are so real. So pure of spirit.

Chantal came and took 6 of the kids with the best grades at Sonrise School to be able to join her for an overnight at her house. She really works to ensure the kids understand how important education and good grades are to their success. This treat reinforces it.

Tantinay (Auntie) Jaki again spent time with the kids teaching them songs tonight and playing with them. Her love and inspiration for this kids knows no bounds.

I am grateful that while this work is so hard, they know that they are serving a heavenly purpose as this is surely a higher calling.

Abby came for another visit today. The kids LOVE when she comes by. They ask every day if she is coming as they now know she lives here so their expectations are higher!

Abby and I decided to go for a drink while the kids were at dinner. We found a place just a few places down from New Hope Homes a couple of years ago and like to go for a visit. Alas they had closed so we walked to the market to check out a place I had spotted yesterday. We each enjoyed a nice glass of wine and wonderful conversation. I am so excited about what her life will be here.

We walked down to get her a moto home.

We hugged goodbye and I began my journey home. Only in here in Kicukiro would I be greeted by 2 friends on my way home. As I walking in the dark up the road, a man on a moto came by and yelled my name. I turned to find one of our former Uncles on a moto. It was so good to see him. Moment later the man from the market who makes skirts for me was walking home and greeted me. I LOVE being a part of this community. I wish my time here each trip could be longer but I am grateful to my co-workers at Aegis Media who allow me to make 3 trips per year.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Alice bringing joy to our Gereza. How's this for pure love?

The best tickling crew around. All in the spirit of making Desami smile. Well done. Some great kids in the neighborhood. Kids helping with kids.

A most amazing ending to my day.

A morning walk to the soko (the produce market) is a nice way to start the day. And again, hello to the people in charcoal market, then a pass through my neighorhood friends, then to the major’s office to say hello, past the bike taxi’s ..whoops wait…a former guard from New Hope Homes is one of the bike taxi drivers so we had a nice visit. Finally to the market.

For some unexpected reason the market was rather small today. Still huge, but smaller than normal. Never seen it like this, but I greeted all my friends as I walk through it. I have taken many photos there and usually bring them back as a gift to thank them. I didn’t bring any this time so I was in a trouble with a few people. I tried my best to say Christmas, but it was to no avail. Then to my friend Eugene the tailor for a hello. The journey takes times as I greet them.

I was simply in search of 2 pineapples. You haven’t had pineapple until you have had it here. I think I could live on it. Juicy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The regular price is about 300-400 francs – about 70 -80 cents per. They wanted 500 francs from me. I told her it was a Moozoongo price and wanted it for 400. After much negotiation I lost my battle and looked for another. Alas, I had to return and pay the 500. I still feel good as they usually get at least 1000 from the white people, but I have not yet local status. ☺

We had a tough class today. Hard hard questions. The great part is the kids love it when it’s hard! They really strive to do their best and when they finish first they seek extra credit questions. It’s a joy to teach these children of ours.

The other priorities for the day were measuring feet and clothes sizes. As you can imagine, with 29 kids, it takes forever. More to do tomorrow, but we are making progress. The kids are growing so quickly so we are trying to keep up.

Auntie Jacki played wonderful games with the little kids this afternoon. She and all of the aunties are simply gifts to these kids. They work so hard with wash and cleaning, yet still find time to make the kids know they are loved.

The best part of my day came tonight. Deborah, our little girl with Cerebral Palsy said my name. And once she said it, she didn’t stop. It was like a chorus of angels singing to me as she really doesn’t speak. She is such a happy girl, always running and playing and smiling but hasn’t yet found her voice at about age 5ish. SOOOOOO, you can imagine my shear joy when she spoke. My day and year is complete.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Patience and Love

Another trip to Immigration. And another delay. I met with ‘the boss’ who said again “it is complicated with you”. The final step to become a citizen involves proof that I have ‘invested in the country’. For them that means land or a home. I again, politely but firmly explain that I invest lots in money in the kids of new hope homes. My investment is in people not things. He said he understood, but again, it must to go ‘his boss.’ I love a good chain of command!

Rwanda is all about patience and I have much. Thus the journey continues. I am to call on Friday for an update, but then there will be ‘no progress’ until I return in December.

I met a wonderful woman “Lara’ when returning home from Rwanda in April. She is captivated by this country and has embarked on some very personal humanitarian work. She also wanted to meet a shop keeper and greet him for her. Rwanda is all about hospitality so it’s important to pass it forward. He had a very nice place and I will recommend it to future visitors.

I also had a wonderful visit again with the kids down the street from New Hope Homes. They come running full force screaming my name as I pass each time. Then I go down the hill to their homes, greet everyone and continue on my way. They are live such very simply lives, but they are well loved.

As I pass by the charcoal market each time, the women there yell for me to pass through. Again, I exit the street, go down a little hill. Greet them with my best Kinyarwanda and continue one. As you can see, getting around here is best taken with no sense for time, just leaving a good impression for other ‘moozoongos’ (white people) who will follow.

We skyped with The RiceCakes. My cousin whose kids like to play the guitar and sign for our kids. It’s fun how they have gotten to know each other and just ask questions. It was Abi’s bday a few days ago so our kids sang Happy Bday to her in English and Kinyarwanda. The kids also hoped to speak to Holly but she was in meetings. DJ is always good entertainment so they kids got him to dance. God bless him!

I taught school again and dialed up the difficulty factor. The 1st question was how many counties can you name? The winner was 30. How many can you name?

The rest of the day was spent just loving on the kids. It’s so important to ensure that each of them get arms wrapped around them in love each day. Held, nurtured, told they they are loved and assure them that they are safe. The little kids just melt in your arms and it’s so hard to let go as you know they would say there the whole day if you let them. The big kids love to play soccer and pass a volleyball around so I let them just be kids and try to give the smaller ones more time on this trip. At most times I have at least 5 on me. 2 on the lap. One on the legs, One on the back and one on the neck…with a couple more lined up saying ‘ my turn, my turn’ in Kinyarwanda.

Tonight I am again reminded what amazing children we are raising. The big kids are always helping with the little kids. This is especially true at bed time. Each much be bathed. Water must be carried in from a tank across the way and then the bucket is used to wash. The big kids are always helping carry water and finding clothes etc. For many, it was just a year or so ago when they had no place to live and no bucket to carry so the gift of New Hope Homes is a blessing indeed.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Images of Kibeho

The beautiful land of 1000 hills. Some of the kids of New Hope Homes and me near where Mary appeared in the 80's. Morning Mass in Kibeho. The beautiful Alter in the church.

Kibeho Road Trip

A long, exhausting… but absolutely beautiful day.

The kids that were planning to come to Kibeho got up super early…5:45, despite the alarms being set for 6:30. They were excited to begin our long 4 hour drive. Go figure.

Our driver got confused and arrived 1 hour late so it was a mad dash to get to Kibeho. And I mean a mad dash. Zoom zoom zoom. Mind you this is on very very twisty roads. I called shot gun early in the van as I was hoping to take some pictures, but the scenery was blowing by so quickly that there were but a few chances.

The car was packed with 6 kids, Abby, Auntie Florientine, the driver and yours truly. Packed like sardines on the two bench seats and in between the passenger and driver seat, on the floor and everywhere in between…just like we all used to travel in simple days gone by.

This driver had not been to Kibeho but said he knew the way. The challenge is there is a long way when you get off the paved road and a short way. The signs direct you to the long way…so that was the best we could do.

We arrived tardy for mass, but were delighted to make it at all given the time we left Kigali.

The church was packed, the music beautiful. I was delighted to be in Kibeho for the first time on a Sunday.

After mass we waited for Anathalie (the visionary to whom Mary – yes that Mary- appeared as a small girl). She smiled and waved at us encouraging us to simply wait for her. I would wait for a week to be in the presence of this blessed woman.

The kids were so so patient as always. Anathalie ultimately greeted us and told our Isaac that she needed to meet with a group of Nuns that had come to visit her. Alas the visit went one for over an hour. The kids waited so patiently and quietly. They were hot, hungry and tired, but never a peep was sounded. Abby was so sweet to simply hang with them while I wandered around, took photos and savored time to pray for so many people and give thanks for all the many blessings in my life.

It was wonderful to simply just sit quietly in the chapel and be present.

Kibeho sits on the top of a many hills so the wind comes and just breaths in the goodness of fresh life. I try to imagine what it must have been like in the early 80’s when Mary appeared on a frequent basis with lots beautiful messages and challenges. She warned of the genocide before it happened. If you want to know more about this area and story read the book Our Lady of Kibeho. There is so much to share about this amazing place, but I am typing this with lots of kids around me seeking my attention.

Anathalie eventually emerged and was so excited for our visit. By that time our numbers had dwindled to Isaac my 11 year old translator and me. AND to top things off we got a call that the van was urgently needed back in Kigali so suddenly my trip needed to be cut short. My heart sank, but I decided that rather than fret about the change of plans, that I would just savor the time with Anathalie, short as it was.

To be in her embrace is to know the love of God. I speak the truth. It simply it.

I had made some post cards for her to sell in her little shop. She had selected the pictures on my April visit with her so she liked the output a lot. My Mom had also sent along some shoes for her as she is never able to leave the immediate area unless it is for medical needs. Imagine spending your life from the teen years until today (about 48ish) in prayer and greeting visitors from all around the world to hear her story. She is a patient and loving woman.

As we left I asked her pray for my family, the kids of New Hope Homes and to bless my work in NY so I can continue to provide for our kids here in Rwanda. She said “ I pray for you and you pray for me”. She knows only a few words of English, but this is a very good phrase to know! I was supposed to spend time teaching her English on this trip, but alas we had to pass it. She asked that I come and stay for at least a day/night on my December visit so we have more time to be together sharing. I eagerly await that opportunity.

The drive back was quite nutty. First was the vomit fest. Yes, it probably was not go to have the kids eat in the car, but since the van was urgently needed in Kigali, we had no choice. My standard protocol is a Ziploc bag in the hands of all of the kids. And yes…some were eventually filled! I have a gag reflex so I had to ask the drive to “hagarara – stop” so I could deal with resulting gag reflex. Abby then gave up her shot gun seat for me so I didn’t have to listen to the sound and smell the – well you know….These kids never complain. They just “blah” as we say and then continue on talking. No tears, so sadness…just a fact of life on Rwanda road trips. They also made me laugh until I cried with stories of a trip where (without Ziploc bags), Kayitesi filled up two shoes, and Innocent one. Then the kicker…when Grace threw up on the head of Kayetesi! Ya just gotta hear them tell the stories with their accents…you would rolling on the flooring laughing…I promise.

We also were having some van problems including steering and battery…so there was never a dull moment. Add to that … one of the many security checks along the way with the military and a police man playing big man made for a tough turn. He took away our car registration from the driver until we paid some kind of nonsense thing. After much and very heated disagreement we lost our battle. Never to be defeated….after a few well placed calls, we were told to turn around and retrieve it. Unfortunately that meant adding another 1.5 hours to our journey for good measure. Securing our paperwork again, we were ready to set out. Unfortunately the battery wasn’t working. After a prayer, some tape from Abby and a large stone…the Driver jerry-rigged a workable solution. Next to find gas as the light was flashing flashing flashing. Yikes. Never a dull moment on our road trips. By this time, our friends in Kigali of course had to make alternate arrangements as we were so delayed. The kids, hungry and thirsty just remained in good spirits sleeping, and playing “ I am thinking of something… know…are u a person, are you a thing, do you have a color etc etc.” Excellent thumb wars got us through the final push of the trip.

Returning home the big kids who were left behind (we rotate every trip), greeted us warmly with not one complaint for being left behind.

Have I mentioned what beautiful children we have at New Hope Homes!

Tomorrow brings another trip to Immigration in an attempt to make some progress on my Citizen application process. Then skyping…then chilling.

We will skype a few more times and then get off the grid so I can disconnect from America and just be with our kids here. I love ya, but I need to be off the grid to process much work to be done here.

We loved having Abby with ua again today. I was able to see her beautiful home tonight. She is surly a gift to Rwanda.

Hope you day was blessed.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Saturday in Rwanda.

The kids woke early and decided to sit in the bedroom next to mine to chat about life. I love listening to them talk to their brothers and sisters about life. Giggling and just waking to the mornings possibilities.

I joined them and we continued our random chat about life from America, to Rwanda to Soccer etc etc. They were all curious when I was going to leave them to attend a friends wedding. They were delighted when they heard it was in the evening.

Chantal arrived in town so I went for a visit with her. God bless this woman who cares for so many…her own kids in the states, our kids here and the thousands in Musanze. The desire to serve is so real in her heart, but it is so very taxing. Please keep her in your prayers.

We are also working towards our 2012 budgets and have yet to find a way to meet the needs of all 3 homes. It can be overwhelming if we really think about it. So for now we simple ask those of you that can help with any tax deductible donation we would be grateful. We promise to be wonderful stewards of every dollar. The easiest way to do it is on facebook, the next is There in ends my mini commercial.

Chantal and I got finished with errands and were greeted by Abby and the kids when we returned. As many of your know, Abby and our friend Sarah come over for a month about 4 years ago, and feel in love with Rwanda. They returned with me last August and now Abby has moved here as of Tuesday this week to teach and continue to uplift the country.

She is a gifted teacher and the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE when she comes to teach them as she really knows how to do it as opposed to me….who just makes it up as I go!

The kids love Abby and we love having her with us. She also discovered a hidden treasure of our District. Some American’s who make donuts one Saturday mornings near the produce market. She surprised the kids with a box of them to share today. YUM.

The afternoon was spent chilling, getting ready for the wedding and trying to find someone to drive us to Kibeho as I haven’t been able to reach John who drove me the last couple of times. We also had some fun skype calls again.

Chantal finally found someone who knew how to get there as it’s remote and not a common place to attend.

I had a lovely time at the wedding tonight. That was of course after I tried to attend 2 of the wrong ones. People kept directing me to places…so I would enter, greet the people and then mention the bride’s name. Oiya! Which means no. Then off to the the next one which they assured me was the correct space. As I was about to be seated I again asked to confirm…Oiya!. Oh now. Finally I was able to reach the bride’s brother who told me I was close…just down the road a bit. As I walked the dusty road to find the chapel, the parade of wedding cars passed me waving me onward. It was a beautiful and very special wedding. I hope to one day share the name of the bride as she is quite a famous author, but for now she has asked that I keep the confidence. Needless to say, it was a joy to be a part of such a blessing.

Returning home, I kids jumped out of bed and ran outside with Abby to greet me. That is of course, just after she had them settled down….ahh, the joys of camp like nights!

Tomorrow morning we are off to Kibeho. I pray that my heart will be ready to receive whatever it is intended to.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The often serious Isaac....being a real kid! The bean bag toss brings lots of laughs. Prince helping with dishes Our night watchman for the 2nd/3rd homes.
Skyping with Danny and his little brother Simple yet effective storage Talking "football" smack with Ian Love chating with our goooood friend Kristen

The simple gifts of love and laughter

The house awakens at 6ish to the sound of the nearby rooster. It’s not a slow stirring. The rooster crows, the floors start to be washed from stem to sterm, the kid start giggling and the approaching it with the zest that comes of youth.

I visited some friends down the road while the kids were bathing. There are 4 impoverished homes with very simple means all living together in a sort of community with a shared dirt yard. The kids saw me coming down the road and immediately starts screaming my name as they came running. Together we went to the compound to greet the mama’s and other kids. There is no common language among us to it’s up to me to deliver my best Kinyarwanda. It’s much easier when I bring one of the big kids with me to translate, but it’s fun to just wander.

A quick trip to the Mayor’s office to greet other friends there. Most were gone, but Jimmy was happy to see me as he spent a lot of time with me while we processed one of the many layers of paperwork to advance my cause of citizenship.

We had a very productive class today. We played hangman for about 1.5 hours and then I did the next round of lessons. The middle kids that are in the neighborhood school now join them so it’s truly a one room classroom.

I took a little o snooze while they had lunch.

The afternoon was spent skyping with lots of friends. Each skype call brings a new set of friends for our kids. Marie Rose has been really want to skype with Rebecca and FINALLY it happened today. Rebecca from New Hope Homes was able to skype with her sisters in the states, (Different Rebecca’s). The kids loved seeing their brother and sister Erica and Eric from Colorado, They got to talk to Holly twice. 6 year old Danny Harvey and his little brother were quite a hoot. Great soccer conversations were had with Ian, Kristen and Kate. Ian has a great rivalry with Ian has he is a Arnsel’s fan and our boys are Chelsea fan. Isaac was wearing a Chelsea shirt to Ian ran to quickly change and put on his Arsenal’s shirt….and so goes our sweet life here with people around the world showing them how much they are loved and they are never along.

We also have some wonderful news to report. Desami…the twin that can’t yet walk due to some very challenged feet is now able to crawl….and might I saw at lightening speed. He can also stand up with someone holding without crying. This is HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE for me. We need to continue his therapy and continue to pray that he will one day be able to walk and run like his twin brother. Deborah…our girls with CP is also doing really well. I did a game yesterday where they had to mirror me….hand on head, toes, knees up etc etc…she kept perfect time with ease. We love our little girl who has such a big heart. I do believe that one day she will speak too.

Counting our blessings.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A beautiful day

Recently people have been asking me when I sleep. My new answer. On the flights to Rwanda. 16 hours of sweet sleep bliss.

Arriving at the New Hope Homes gate, I was met by 2 year Mwami who said “oh missy donna” and when running to get the other kids. Then he came back yelling my name following by the pied piper of kids finishing bathing, etc etc. Dogpiled in the arms of 30 kids and you know that life is indeed sweet.

Then hugs and kisses for each with an I love you.

In that moment, everything else in life melts away and I am once again reminded that I have found my life’s work.

Chatting with 11 year old Isaac, I asked if life is good…bad…or between. He paused, looked me straight in the face…it is not Good….it is GREAT. That sums up the work of New Hope Homes and the many of you who have made that work possible as we are funded exclusively by private donations, many of you who are reading this. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Today I also the continued the odyssey of attempting to become a citizen. 2 trips to Immigration today revealed that there is “no progress” on my paperwork. I am case number 17. When I inquired what number they are on…there was a confused look. When I mentioned that I saw the President of Rwanda in Chicago a few months back and was able to ask him a question….one of the guys in the office who was watching the event in Rwanda said. “I saw you”. And wished me well on my continued paperwork. I also again asked about the type of test I will be eventually taking (written and oral) IF I ever get to that day. He again said “there is no book, you just have to know”. Arghh. I hope when the day comes, that I will actually ‘know’.

I then rang ‘the boss’ who said he would meet with me on Monday AM. We’ll see. Patience is a much practiced skill here.

We also had the joy of surprising the kids with a visit from Abby today. Abby came to volunteer for a month 4 years ago then again last August. As of Tuesday she has moved to Rwanda to teach! She will be about 15 mins from the kids, so they are looking forward to seeing her. OFTEN.

I had 3 skype calls with the office which brought much entertainment to my co-workers as the kids were hanging all over me and kept coming to the camera to say “hi” while I was talking. Good humor all around.

A full day. I am indeed blessed to be in the presence of these amazing kids.

We will be skyping tomorrow morning USA time. Shoot me a note on skype (rwandadonna) or on facebook if you want to connect with us.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Rwanda Bound

In route back to our beloved kids at New Hope Homes in Rwanda. The big kids just got home for a little holiday break. MWAMI is having challenges with his face again. More to report when I arrive. Thanks for following along and for being such a beautiful support system to our kids. Donna

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Please pray for little sweet Mwami. Surgery Thursday 4.28 @ 4 pm local time. 10 AM est. Need to remove this abysses

Quality Education Can End Poverty

Sonrise Kids head back to school for the term Our pre-k kids at school near New Hope Homes Class Room for Pre-K Getting the wiggles out in the morning.

Joys and Sorrow.

The morning started like a ray of pure sunshine. I have the joy of walking our 7 pre-schoolers to school today. It’s about a 30-40 min walk with their little tiny legs. They look so dang cute in their uniforms. You could just hug each one and never ever let go. As we walked up and down the dirt roads the kids were so happy to have me with them as they know I would usually be with the bigs kids. As other kids came to follow our pied piper line our kids kept fending off the others to take my hand as I was theirs (indeed I am!).

We arrived a school to find about 500 kids starting in straight lines getting ready for school. The teachers recognized me from the church the kids attend an came to greet me. I had know idea it would be these fine women. You will absolutely love the video I shot when I can upload it in the states. The head teacher was AMAZING with the kids. Getting them to respond in English to so many things. They danced ,they praised God, they did their ABC’s. Everything had a lead and echo response.

I had two favorite songs. One talked about “I am a doctor…because of a good education, I am nurse…because of a good education, I am policeman…because of a good education. Each job had a action pose. The second was so simple, but so uplifting “ I AM THE BEST OF AFRICA”. Oh may it be so. May these simple people grow to make a difference.

The classrooms were beyond packed. About 100 kids per room based on my count. They kids had simple benches, no desks but a small chalk board in the front. The joy of learning was so present.

On my way home I stopped by to see the Mayor’s assistant again. My daily routine.

I then spent hours looking for Mwani’s Doctor’s number. He had given it to me for a private consult if needed. We had looked through all the paperwork he provided but couldn’t find it. So today I dug through ever receipt I had and viola…found it. He agreed to meet us at 2 pm when he arrived for the afternoon.

That gave me enough time to pick up the kids from school and get my wash done before we had to leave. The kids were not expecting me on the return trip and I was delighted to see the joy in their eyes. I visited each classroom of our kids just before they exited at noon. The return trip was too funny. All the kids wanted to walk with the moozongoo and the teachers had to ensure only our kids left with us! Then those that shared the road with us wanted to share my hands which were already full with 3 of ours. One get thumb and one gets pinky on each hand. Dorcus was pulling on my arm so badly I thought I was literally going to have to drag her up the hill as she wanted to ensure no one got any finger on the hand she was holding. My back aches from her strength! But it was luv so it’s all good.

Mwani and Auntie Jaki arrived to head back to the hospital. I love knowing more and more parts of this country and key locations. Working your way through the hospital is challenging trying to find the right rooms. Each procedure needs to be prepaid. So you go to the area that is required. Then go pay. Then go back to show them you have paid. Then you meet. Patience Patience Patience…the key words here.

The Doc decided that Mwani would need to have surgery. It’s a simple one but he needs to go under General. The abscess is not improving and he needs to open it up and get it cleaned out. We then had to get blood drawn for pre- surgery evaluation. All I could think about was Rebecca’s scream when we took her to the doc in the market. But would you believe it that this sweet boy never cried. He even got brave enough to look at the needle as they filled the second vial.

Then to pre-admissions to meet with the anesthesiologist. After a long long wait they said he could meet with us tomorrow morning.

Mwami will need to arrive by 8 am then surgery will be at 4. Hopefully he will be able to go home this weekend.

I wish you could know what a sweet little boy this is. Holly joined me on my last trip in December and fell in love with him. Her heart aches not to be her with us as he goes through this surgery. He is funny. He is fascinated with the way things work and loves balls.

The early afternoon evening was spent just playing with the kids. It’s such a treat to have time with them while the big kids are at school.

Our two newest girls-each about 1.5 years have fit right in. Many of you may have seen the photo that Chantal posted when they arrived. They looked so scared. Today they fit right in. The are generally at the center of everything. The older kids really look out for them and give them lots of extra hugs.

Speaking of extra hugs. We surely could use yours. When are you coming?

So we ask for special prayer for Mwani tomorrow. I really like his doctor. He seems we educated and is very gentle with Mwani.

Oh…and PS. Apparently the Mayor decided to sign the extra paper for me that he declined yesterday. That requires meeting him. His assistant and I have a plan to have be there waiting when he walks in tomorrow. If I miss that window it will have to be on my next trip as he has the Parliament coming in tomorrow and eventually a full calendar before I leave. It would be amazing to finally get the chance to meet him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayor, Immigration, Process, Crash, Macarena....what a day.

It started out simple enough. Yes, another trip to the Mayor’s office. Thankfully it’s just a short walk. Now I am a regular so many people greet me. The Mayor’s committee approved the recommendation for me to become a Citizen which is great! However, it still requires the Mayor’s signature. This requires the Mayo to actually be in his office.

His wonderful assistant played my paper at the top of his things to sign, but he was not yet in. After about 2 hours, we decided I should go back to New Hope Homes and stay put as she would call me as soon as he arrived and signed. Hours later I phoned and he had reviewed but decided that he didn’t need to sign it and I should use the paper I got 2 weeks ago! Wah. He said it would be fine. Please, could he just sign it for me.

His Assistant Louise assured me it would be fine.

As we chatted this morning she offered to share more of her story about the “war” (genocide) with me if I would like to learn more. She could see that I was moved yesterday and while she has forgiven and forgotten, I think she feels safe with me and it’s probably still good to process. The bomb shell she dropped on me this morning that to fully live her life of forgiveness she has adopted a child of “those people” who killed her father. I presume she meant what used to be referred to as Hutu people, not the actual killers as this boy is only 7 years old. She has grately moved my heart. She asked if I could help with funding that this boy might be able to go to Sonrise School where our kids go. Imagine the power of what she was asking. That this child. An offspring of people whom most would go to the grave hating be given the greatest gift that Rwandese children can get given. The Power of a great education. I explained that we didn’t have funding for it and it would be $1300US per year plus $200/term in supplies. She acknowledged the size of that expense. If you are have been moved by her story and would like to help, I will ensure funds get to her.

Then off to immigration. Or so I thought. Cars and Motos (motorbikes) share the roads in crazy close proximity here. Today is was too close. My driver (20 year old Joesph) got a little to close to a Moto. He did the customary ‘beep beep” but the Motor turned into us. Down they went. The Moto driver and his passenger. We weren’t going fast, but they took a tough spill. Like a fool, I opened my door to check on how there were. This of course quickly established that a Moozoongo (white person and thus presumed rich) was in the car. This created quite a stir. The crowds built and the yelling was loud. Witnesses came and took stones to use a chalk like on the front and back of the tires to demonstrate where we stopped. Robert went out to attempt to handle the angry crowd. He returned to announce that they wanted to go to the hospital. I agreed we needed to make it right. The two men approached my passenger door and began yelling at me. Once I spoke a little kinyarwranda and saying it was an accident and we were sorry and yes yes, let’s to go the doctor in the market (my new friend from a few days ago with Rebecca. ) and we ensure it was all taken care of.

They climbed into our van and I directed the driver to the Doctor.

The Doctor examined both men, put some light bandages on them and gave them some antibiotic to ensure they would be fine. Then the fun began. They started negotiating with me for money. The first man who spoke a little English said that he was too injured to work. I countered with I can’t imagine a job that couldn’t be done with the small bandages. The conversation when like this “ So what is your job?” He replied after pausing for a long time “ I don’t have a job. You give me a job.” “You give me money for food”. Me “ What does food have to do with the accident”. Reply “well….I can’t work”. Around and around. Then he said he needed money for the ongoing Doctor treatment. I told him I would definitely give the Doctor whatever was required for their treatment. The Doc returned and basically said they would need their bandages changed. Then came the offer. “You give me $5000 franc and all will be forgotten. “ $5000rfranc is just about $10US/each but I simply did not want to be taken advantage of as it was an accident. Around and around. Then the crowds in the Doc office grew with the men shouting at our driver and at me. Whenever I would speak Kinyarwanda the meanest of the two would start laughing and I knew he thought this was a fun game.

Finally I called sweet Milly , Mbanda’s assistant to sort it out via phone. She agreed with me that I sound not pay. It is a bad precedence when they are simply trying to take advantage of white people. I returned to the men and asked again for the Doctor to come forward to meet us. He said the treatment would be $2500rf each so I said I would pay. The men were delighted….until I told them I would give the Doctor the money and he would give them a credit.

Game Over. Moozoongo wins.

Defeated I told them we would give them a ride back to their Moto, but they could not yell any more. The issue was closed. Or they could walk. They stared at me knowing it was done and thus…they chose to walk.

Phew. Exhausting.

Then off to drop off paperwork to prove our girls Esther and Grace are of age to attend Sonrise. We got to the express bus to the Volcanos who took it there for us.

Next up Immigration. There are literally hundreds of people in line. I know my way around know and know that I should bi-pass this line and go through a back door to speak with the Naturalization people…but each time I pass, I feel terrible – like they think – I think – I am special. Thankfully when they see me gently push through the line and then go through another door the tension eases.

Immigration will be another fun adventure. He reviewed all my paperwork and tried to get me for a loop hole. I knew the background and assured him that it only applies if I have been here less than 5 years and now I have been here longer, so we should be good. With the best Kinyarwanda, friendship, charm I had he agreed to begin the process.

Next step – they must approve the proposal for naturalization. Then I will be notified. Then I must come for a written test about the country and then oral. Needless to say, this won’t be done on this trip. Hopefully next. The people actually love that I want to become a citizen, but process is process and the process here moves slowlyyyyyyyyyyy.

Then Nakumatt…the most wonderful thing that happened to visitors in the past 2 years in Rwanda. A large Kmart like store with 24 hours operation. They have everything. And I mean everything. From food, to wine to buckets to washing machines and toilet paper. I needed to get a few more things for the homes.

Exhausted we headed for home and some fun with the little kids. OMG, they are so cute. They all come running. Missy Donna, Missy Donna. They were all in their little plastic chairs eating when I entered. Again the power went out, but this time they had my solar lights and they continued on with ease. Sweet. Need to keep advancing the ball on these lights.

I had my iphone with me and I recorded some of their songs. Once they got the concept they they sing, I record and play back the fun got intense. I just kept asking them to sing and the results were so random including Jingle Bells..which sounds something like bingle jells. At the end the started humming the macarina that I had taught the older kids a couple of year ago. Then they started with the motions. It was crazy funny. I made each Auntie and Uncle get up and do it with me while the y hummed along. Ya, I luv this little squirts.

Tomorrow. Finally. I get to walk the little kids to school. It’s like a pre-school. I have no idea where it is, I only know that we will leave at 7:45 which could be anywhere between 7 and 8.

Oh my, the most important thing. Rebecca is feeling better, but Mwami is still in need of medical care. Gonna get on that tomorrow.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Today again I went to the Mayor’s office to inquire about his letter of Recommendation for my Citizenship. It remains in “Committee”. Each day I go with with a smile on my face an encouragement to advance the cause.

Since I am now a regular more are starting to greet me.

As I was talking to the Mayor’s Assistant she began to share her story of the genocide with me. As you may know, this is not a subject that the people want to discuss and it is in fact considered rude to inquire so for those that want to share, I am grateful to hear their stories 1st hand.

She was 19 during genocide. About 5 days into the killing they came for her family. It was her father, mother, little sister and little brother. Her Father told them they would kill him but when he was dead would probably leave. He told them to hid until he was killed, then to run. She heard her Father argue with the killers then they began to cut him everywhere and the sounds were something terrible. He walked back into the house bleeding everywhere and went to the room he shared with his wife and layed down on the bed and died. They waited in silence till the noise was gone and then, without a plan, they each ran in different directions. She went alone, her Mother took one child and the other was solo too.

She ran for days and kept hiding during all the killing.

Can you imagine being 19 and having this seered into your brain? Things your eyes should never see.

I asked about food or water. She said, “when your mind thinks, they will kill you they will kill you if they find you, your stomach does not ask for any food”.

This was April 1994. She did not return to her home until 1995. She was thankful to find the rest of her family had survived.

Then she talked about forgiveness. I asked about forgiving, but not forgetting? She said “no, we must do both”. I asked how long it took. She said she was still angry in 1995, 1996, 1997 etc. Then the killers started to return to the country. They came with kindness. She then found her faith and knew she must not only forgive but forget.

Tomorrow she will share more.

The first time I came to Rwanda 5 years ago I can with a broken and bitter heart about a boyfriend who had not been faithful. I hung onto the bitterness for a long time. Then I met these people and found inspiration from these people who have suffered to so much and have found a way to move forward.

What bitterness, anger or hatred have you been hanging onto too long? Perhaps you too can learn from these amazing people in Rwanda too.


Sorry, I have been slacking on the blog, but certainly not slacking here. So much going on I can hardly remember.


Drove to Runeghiri to enjoy Easter Eve and Easter Morning with Bishop and Chantal Mbanda. We had a wonderful time together. In addition to the joy of celebrating Easter our focus was on strategic planning work for the Vision of New Hopes Homes. Our friends in Kansas have raised the funds to build our 4th home. We now have the land, and will break ground but need to raise the funds to operate it annually. Our goal would be to build the 4th and 5th homes together for building efficiency costs. There are the serious on going needs of our current 3 homes. Our dreams are so big but our budget so small. Believing that God will show us the way and so grateful that my colleagues at Aegis Media are eager to help us use their collective communications expertise to help us raise funds.

On a small note, ahhh, so nice to have running water at the Mbandas. And hot water! They also had a wonderful meal for me and shared some wine. It was good to be present with them as they shared their needs to so many other things they want to accomplish. Help build a small home for a woman who’s home was destroyed in a big wind about 2 months ago, start more day cares through their part of the country, send Mbanda back to school to finish his studies in Canon Law in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, help Chantal build a little store that ladies who weave baskets etc can sell, etc etc. Their hearts are so focused on helping people uplift themselves. Please, if any of these things seem like something you would like to get involved with, please let me know.

The drive to Ruhengeri is normally 2.5 hours. Our return was like a rocket ship with a nice man who drove us back. 1:20 mins. The roads are not stop twisty, turny roads with people passing at all sorts of inopportune times. I was in the back seat with Chantal desperately trying NOT to throw up. There was a small plastic back near me so I kept my hand on it if needed. I told them I could not speak. I would just close my eyes and focus. Thankfully we made it with no vomit anywhere in sight!

Then it was the last night home with the big kids. 12 kids that you simply would love to call your own. I can’t tell you enough about how wonderful they are. They are smart, compassionate, kind, funny, helpful. You name it, they are simply a joy. When I think back to 5 years ago when no one spoke English and New Hope Homes was envisioned and launched by Chantal it’s remarkable. I have seen these kids go from scared, incredibly ill and timid kids to filled fully with hope. If you are reading this, you too are part of their journey and I thank you.

The energy level in the house last night was at a fever pitch. Yes, like any kids the night before school, trying to get every last wiggle out. And in this case, serious giggles were part of the wiggles.

We skyped and called so many people. It was too funny!!!

I eventually got them all to bed. This included standing like the camp counselor in one of the bedrooms until the boys stopped laughing. Of course my food on there behinds shaking their beds made the process last a little longer. Hey, come on, I was a kid too!

The drive to Rugenguri was uncharacteristically quiet. When I inquired what was up they said they were sad that they would be at school and I would be here. Some also had that – I want to stay on vacation – look on their faces. We eventually arrived at school. On the way up I asked if I should “cry big and make a scene or little?” They said ‘little”. I said I would cry “big” just to bug em. Their English is good enough now that jokes are understood. They boys however, were horrified by the fact that I might embarrass them…they just kept trying to see if I joking or not. Yup, they are growing up indeed!

There was a serious check in issue that took hours. Some top guy somewhere in the government made a ruling THIS MORNING that no 6 year olds could attend boarding school. They thought several of our kids looked that age. They check the paper work again and again trying to confirm that they were right but our kids kept saying they were 7. We had to go through layers and layers of review until we ended up at the head master who said Grace and Esther look small – yup they are – and could be 6. Finally I remembered that I have a pdf on my computer with all the kids ages. Not government official, but the beginning. Mbanda’s wonderful asst Milly came to help me and finally go them to agree to let them stay over night while we drove back tonight to find some government paperwork to allow them to stay. Esther and Grace however, were kinda digging the part where they go to come back home with me instead of school!

We gathered in a circle and said a prayer before the boys headed off to their wing of the school. One of the officials allowed me to cross through the entrance gate with the girls as I was ‘their Mom’. I like the sound of that!

As we walked through the rain to their rooms their friends came running and gave them lots of hugs and helped them with their bags. It was so sweet. I toured each of their rooms and met their friends. Marie Rose asked if we could say another prayer before I left. Paper, Rock, Scissors confirmed Fabiola would lead us in prayer. Tears flowed but not as badly as before as they know “Miss Donna ALWAYS comes back!” I rounded the corner and burst out in tears. 3 mins later two little hands landed in mine on either side and it was Alice and Esther who had come running to walk me back to the front gate. Bless their sweet hearts. Another goodbye and then I was mush.

Abby who is planning to spend at least a year teaching in Rwanda starting this fall.

The drive home was still. No kids. Only memories of each of their voices, their giggles, their hopes and dreams.

Now I return to 3 homes where no one speaks English, But the love is there. I am looking forward to getting to know our little kids more and more as our big kids get so much of my attention, but my love spreads out over them all.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Exhuasted times 2.

The day started really sweet. Got to sleep until 8 am, then hang with the kids who are at my nightly slumber party. We rotate the groups and play paper rock scissors for the remaining stragglers.

Then they went do to the 2nd/3rd house while I went in search of a Catholic Church. I have been asked for days and no one seemed to know. I recall walking through some woods about 5 years ago to one, but can’t seem to find it now. Yesterday and old man on the street pointed me in the general direction so this morning I set out on my adventure. Much to my surprise, about ½ way down there on the dirt road 2 kids came running up to greet me. They were the kids from the neighborhood and it was so sweet. I felt like a regular. Speaking of regulars the other day when I was walking through the market and getting the traditional shouts “moozoongoo, moozoongo” – white person, white person. Some guys walked by and started in…his friends silenced him by telling them “oh that one…everyone likes that one”…”oh” was the reply and he stopped. I had no idea it had happened but the kids translated it all for me. I think I am making progress in my home away from home. ☺

I kept focused on a radio tower across town and headed that way. It was nice to just walk the road alone. I love the kids, but some ‘me’ time, especially to process on Good Friday was precious. I was very proud of myself when I found it!!! There were piles of people washing the floors and benches in preparation for the weekend Masses. I just sat silently and tried to comprehend the power of this day. The church was really impressively large. They were working the ceiling with nails falling from the tin roof to the floor about every 3-5 mins, so I needed to be somewhat attentive.

The road back was so wonderful. The kids in their tiny homes made of mud bricks wave and said “hello…ahhh-low” when I passed the second time. Everyone is so friendly, especially when I greet them in Kinyarwanda. They simply stare at me as I approach, but then I greet them then laugh and try to get a conversation going. The story goes on person after person on the street.

Then back to the 2nd/3rd homes to play with the little kids until they took their after lunch naps. The rain poured again today so it was fun to skype with some more people to keep them entertained.

I noticed before lunch that Rebecca seemed quite hot. We took her temp and realized it was high. Not to high, but a definite fever. The kids then watched one of the DVD’s I brought them about the history of Football/Soccer. Sande took the small orange cones I brought and set up is own training camp outside. I was so very impressed with how he put himself through the paces. I will post pics in a day or so.

Understand that 30 kids who all want to talk and play at the same time is such a joy but so exhausting. I really try to give the little kids attention when we are all together as I know the big kids so much better.

Later I held Rebecca again and she seemed really hot. We took her temp and it was in the high 103’s so we decided to take her to the doc. Auntie Jaki (who doesn’t speak any English) and I headed to the Doc in the pitch black of night. There is a small Doc’s office near the market which is manned by a male nurse. He was lovely. Vincent (the nurse) initially thought is was Malaria. After drawing blood and then waiting 30 mins he looked at it under a microscope and said it was not. WHOO HOO. He loaded us up with 3 types of medicine and we journeyed back home.

My amaze ashoo-shey (hot water) was on the stove for my evening bathing. So it was ready to go by the time we fed Rebecca, gave her the medicine and tucked her into bed.

The merry band of silly kids and I made our way up to the 1st home. A quick game of go fish and it is lights out. For Me too.

Tomorrow off to Rhungehi – a 2 hours drive to spend the evening with Chantal and Mbanda to work on a vision for New Hope Homes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Going on midnight here with much to do yet, so I will keep it brief. A thousand thank yous to everyone who sent shoes. They were absolutely wonderful.

The really special part is to see the joy on their faces when they see the pics of who sent these shoes. The read each card and study every word that is written. Then they sit down all alone and really look at the pictures. Once that is done, then they joyfully run around trying to show as many people as possible who is their 'sponsor' and ask all sorts of questions about them. The most common one is "Will you please greet my sponsor and tell them thank you for me?" Then they ask "Will they skype with me?" Yes, I have created little technology pros here in Rwanda! Whoops.

Today in school I asked the question where would they like to visit in America. Many made their decision by where the people are the sent their shoes. You really do matter.

The adults have never had such quality shoes so they were pretty much speechless.

We also had some great skyping time with people in all sorts of places. They love it!

On a personal note for me. A another little trip to the Mayor's office and I am almost done with my paper processing on this end. Then to immigration to do the final step for hopeful citizenship. The kids are hoping it will be true. They think I should be called an African if it happen. Or African American vs RwandaDonna. Love is in the air. (as are the mosquitoes from the daily downpours.

Some of the Aunties & Uncles in their new shoes. Big kids showing their new shoes with pride

Shoes for Auntie and Uncles. + the LIttle kids in their new shoes

I will post individual pics when I am back in the states. The uploads are too expensive and slow.

Assorted fun

One of our two newest additions. OMG, is she the cutest ever. Thanks for the new sweater and hat Lisa C. A chicken our driver bought along the road for Easter dinner. Marie Rose...where would you like to visit in America? Skyping with Lori and Shawn! Helping Miss Donna wash her clothes. YES YES, I really was washing before I stepped out to take the picture. :)