Monday, February 19 , 2018, 2:26 am | Fair 48º


Santa Barbara Nonprofit to Embark on Humanitarian Mission in Rwanda

The Grace Process International launches a fundraising campaign to continue its work with orphan genocide survivors

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandan orphans experienced their families being tortured and murdered in the tragic genocide that wracked that nation, leaving those children with no parents, no place to live and no visible means of support.

Two years ago, Dr. Lori Leyden of The Grace Process International, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization, arrived with therapeutic services and leadership training designed to bring trauma healing, reconciliation, counseling and a new heart-centered focus to 650 of the disaffected and impoverished youths.

She met with unqualified success and is now returning for two weeks in September with a volunteer team of four trauma healing experts, including local resident Christopher Lowman and a documentary filmmaker to continue her work. Award-winning filmmaker Eric Huurre, whose work has been featured on The Discovery Channel and National Geographic Explorer, is volunteering his services to produce a film documenting the impact and success of TGPI’s programs. It will chronicle Leyden’s third humanitarian trip to Rwanda in two years.

TGPI depends on grassroots donations to support its programs in Rwanda and hopes to raise $30,000 by Sept. 4 to fulfill program goals and provide food and water to as many orphans as possible.

“In previous campaigns, we exceeded the halfway mark by this point. Given the economic climate, we are grateful for and encouraged by the $12,290 we have so far received and hope to connect with new donors who are as excited by our vision as we are,“ Leyden said. “With our work in Rwanda being documented in a film this year, we have added expenses, but the film will profile the complex issues our Rwandan orphans face, as well as the solutions-based approach we offer.”

Donors can have their names added to the credits in the film and will receive a complimentary copy of the DVD, Huurre said.

“Our intentions for fundraising are two-fold,” Leyden said. “One is to provide excellent care for our Rwandan orphans, and the other is for donors to receive the gift of knowing that they are making a real difference in the world and the lives of young people who have endured a terrible tragedy.”

Jackie Morris, a Carpinteria resident and three-time donor, said, “TGPI affords me the opportunity to be a part of this special process, especially when I read the accounts from the field. Every penny of my contribution goes to hands-on, heart-opening programs that transform the lives of orphan genocide survivors. Knowing that makes me feel very, very good.”

This year, the TGPI team will again provide leading-edge therapeutic solutions to treat the root cause of psychological and somatic trauma, which will dramatically reduce PTSD symptoms. In addition, they will facilitate “Heart-Centered Leadership Trainings,” which emphasize team building, cooperation, peaceful communication, creative problem-solving, resource sharing, understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation. Participants are then empowered to train fellow students and students attending neighboring schools, so that they can continue the therapeutic work in TGPI’s absence.

Click here to learn how to help or for more information.

— Lori Leyden represents The Grace Process International.

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