Saturday, August 29 , 2015, 6:50 pm | Fair 85.0º




Rwandan Genocide Survivor Speaks to Kids Helping Kids

San Marcos High student-run program helps fund a community center founded by Frederick Ndabaramiye

Rwandan genocide survivor Frederick Ndabaramiye, center, visits with San Marcos High School students, from left front row, Nolan Cope, Caitlin Walker, Sarah Kelmenson, Crystal Hart, Evyn Van Homer, Sara Scott and Jacob Iuele, and, back row, Chris Newton and Jason Phreaner.

Rwandan genocide survivor Frederick Ndabaramiye, center, visits with San Marcos High School students, from left front row, Nolan Cope, Caitlin Walker, Sarah Kelmenson, Crystal Hart, Evyn Van Homer, Sara Scott and Jacob Iuele, and, back row, Chris Newton and Jason Phreaner.  (Jamie DeVries photo)

By Nolan Cope for San Marcos High School |

On Thursday, Frederick Ndabaramiye visited San Marcos High School and the students in the Kids Helping Kids fourth-period Advanced Placement economics class.

Kids Helping Kids is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2001 to support the local and global community. It is a program started and run by San Marcos High students.

Over the years, they have raised and donated more than $700,000 to local and global causes. Last year, Kids Helping Kids donated $5,000 to the Ubumwe Community Center in Gisenyi, Rwanda. The center was founded by Frederick Ndabaramiye and Zachary Dusingizima. Ubumwe means “unity” in the local language.

The center is currently aiding more than 130 local citizens. The center focuses on providing free academic instruction to students of all ages, teaching the disabled how to become a part of the community, and helping genocide survivors many different useful crafts and skills, such as weaving and sewing. The center is also about giving the genocide survivors hope for the future.

“If you don’t have hope, you have nothing,” co-founder Ndabaramiye said during his talk to Kids Helping Kids. “Hope is the key to life.”

The money that Kids Helping Kids donated to the Ubumwe Center has been used to begin the construction of a new preschool for the center. The Inzu Y’Abana shcool is going to educate the youngest members of the community. The school will hold 60 students, but hopefully it will eventually will hold more. The program is open to kids older than preschool level, but primarily aimed at younger children. The school is going to give the kids a good education, and it is also aimed at teaching the disabled people, so that they can work and have jobs.

The school will hopefully be finished by the end of this year, so that the kids can start school next year. However, they still need a little bit more money to finish completely. Any small donation helps, and it goes a long way to help the completion of the school to make 60 kids very happy.

The Ubumwe Center was founded to help the local residents recover and grow after a devastating genocide in 1994, after the Rwandan civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. In about three months, an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were murdered by the Hutu at random. Ndabaramiye was one of the survivors.

His story is gruesome, much like many other genocide survivor stories. When he was 15, he was on his way to visit his aunt, but his bus was stopped by Hutu rebels. When Ndabaramiye refused to kill the other 18 people on the bus, he was forced to watch each one die. After the rebels were done, they cut off his hands and left him for dead.

After spending a year in a hospital, Ndabaramiye was sent to the Imbabazi orphanage, where he befriended young teacher Zachary Dusingzima. The pair, having both felt that they were lucky to be alive, decided to help others who also suffered during the genocide. Together they founded the Ubumwe Center.

“It was amazing to hear Frederick’s experience of the Rwandan genocide,” said San Marcos senior Lauren Klammer, who is a part of Kids Helping Kids. “I think we take our lives for granted so often, but it’s important to remember how fragile life is. His story is inspiring, and he is a living example of a miracle and why it is important to always have hope.”

Ndabaramiye is not the only genocide story, but he has one of the happier endings. The preschool is near completion, and with the help of Kids Helping Kids and others, it is on the way to improving the Ubumwe area.

Click here to learn more about the Ubumwe Center, or to donate to the preschool and other parts of the center. The center has already changed the lives of more than 130 people, and it can continue this tradition with the construction of the new school. Kids Helping Kids is proud to have worked with such an astounding program with a great motivation.

— Nolan Cope is a student at San Marcos High School.




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