Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beginnings in Rwanda

40 people from Bukomero Village, 8 to 40 years old, come together to practice Rwandan traditional dance every week at Umuryango Children’s Network in the village. Umuryango is a home for street children that helps get them into schools and stay off the streets. The dancers formed their group to practice and perform traditional dance out of fear that Rwandan culture is disappearing and the delight in performing along with a need for money. The families of the dancers are poor and many of the dancers try to make some money from performances when they are not in school, working the land or fetching water. They are an enthusiastic bunch and eager to continue dancing but they and their families face many hardships such as under nutrition, poverty and poor education. In the following weeks, they will be spending their Saturdays at the Umryango home to participate in a MicroGrant competition; the first in Rwanda!

Jean Paul, Director of Umuryango Support Network will facilitate the competition with the help from his staff at Umuryango. Jean Paul noted that if the whole village was invited to participate, they would show up, but it would be hard to organize because the village is over 500 people. When I meet people from the villages, they easily talk about problems they face and have ideas of what to do about them. People are really interested in MicroGrant competitions and see it as a chance to try a project to help a situation they are worried about. It makes sense when people don’t have basic securities but have the knowledge to increase their communities well being and are willing to work for it, that the are presented with an opportunity to do so.

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