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Congregation B’nai B’rith Becomes Fundraising Partner for Rwandan Preschool Project

With phases one and two complete, and phase three in the works, the school provides a nurturing environment for young children in Gisenyi

The Global Justice Committee at Santa Barbara’s Congregation B’nai B’rith has been hard at work raising money for its Ubumwe Preschool Project, an effort to build a preschool in Rwanda where the youngest children can go to learn.

“School often doesn’t start for children until they are 7 or 8 in Rwanda, so many young children have nowhere to go during the day when their parents are working,” project co-chairwoman Ellen Hunter said.

The preschool would be placed next to an existing facility, the Ubumwe Center, which assists disabled Rwandans learn skills that can assist them in earning a living, Hunter said.

The location of the preschool, in Gisenyi, Rwanda, would provide a nurturing and safe environment for children during the day to go to learn.

Frederick Ndabaramiye and Zachary Dusingizimana, two Rwandan genocide survivors, had the idea to start a preschool near the Ubumwe Center. Rebels cut off both of Ndabaramiye’s arms after he refused orders to kill 18 passengers on a bus.

While recovering, Ndabaramiye met Dusingizimana. Like many Rwandans, they each lost relatives during the genocide and the war that raged around it. Together, they decided to create the Ubumwe Center, where they could give disabled people a chance to get back on their feet.

Ndabaramiye and Dusingizimana have traveled to Santa Barbara in the past, visiting schools and organizations, meeting new people and telling the stories of their lives. They requested help in raising money to build the preschool. That’s where B’nai B’rith came in.

The congregation began fundraising by selling crafts created by disabled workers at the Ubumwe Center, according to project co-chairwoman Pamela Gunther. Additionally, volunteers with the Ubumwe Preschool Project have been selling reproductions of Ndabaramiye’s art as well as actual paintings he has created.

Through fundraising, donations and help from a variety of Santa Barbara groups, including Rotary clubs, Congregation B’nai Brith has raised $37,000. In all, the project is estimated to cost about $100,000.

The foundation begins to take shape for the Ubumwe Preschool Project in Rwanda.
The foundation begins to take shape for the Ubumwe Preschool Project in Rwanda. (Congregation B’nai B’rith photo)

Phase one, a rock wall, and phase two, the creation of the foundation of the preschool, have both been completed. Now, the Global Justice Committee at B’nai B’rith is fundraising for phase three, to pay for walls and a roof for the preschool. Hunter said the third phase will cost about $50,000.

Tuition for the school “will be based on how much each family can basically afford, depending on their job and how much money they make,” Hunter said.

Those involved in the Ubumwe Preschool Project hope to have the preschool completed by the end of 2012.

“The government in Rwanda is in support of the project,” Hunter said. “They originally granted the land, which was exciting. Everyone in the village of Gisenyi is very anxious and excited for the preschool to be built.”

Click here to make an online donation to the project.

Noozhawk intern Alexa Shapiro can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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