L'Esperance Children's Aid Rwanda : Giving the Rwandan orphans a future

Sustainable projects have given hope to beneficiaries L'Esperance Children's Aid Rwanda started its activities in Rwanda on November 1994 just after the war and genocide.  The main purpose of the organization is to provide a good, harmonic environment for the intellectual, spiritual, social and physical growth of all the children living in it.

Sustainable projects have given hope to beneficiaries
 
L'Esperance Children's Aid Rwanda started its activities in Rwanda on November 1994 just after the war and genocide.  The main purpose of the organization is to provide a good, harmonic environment for the intellectual, spiritual, social and physical growth of all the children living in it.

The organization has a Children's Village in the rural areas of the Western Province
in the District of Karongi, Gishyita Sector on a piece of land of fifteen (15) Hectares, with one hundred fourteen  (114) orphans including small children of less than two years, and seven houses which act as family units for them.

The Children's Village Kigarama is aiming to be the first and only orphanage worldwide ever reaching  complete self-sufficiency and economic independency during the next two years. With that purpose, the orphanage is developing two main income generating activities:

a) The Orchard Project

The Children's Village Kigarama has during the last seven years developed a large commercial fruit production unit. A total of seven Hectares of land are planted with pineapples (22,000 plants) with a daily production of sixty (60) pineapple fruits; one thousand five hundred (1500) Mango trees and one thousand three hundred (1300) Guava trees.

The fruits will be processed using only green technologies developed by Engineers Without Borders - Johnson Space Center/NASA. In a professional fruit processing hall the fruit will be transformed into juices, dried fruit, jams and healthy snacks.
All the profits of this project will be used to cover the educational needs of orphans.

b) The Birambye-Lodge Project

The Children's Village Kigarama is aiming to build an Eco-Lodge at the shores of Lake Kivu on a property of three Hectares with three hundred (300) meters of shoreline.

The Birambye-Lodge will have the highest environmental standards of the United States of America and it will be the only structure in the entire African continent with a Platinum Leed registration.

The Birambye-Lodge is aiming to offer many outside activities like hiking direct at the shores of Lake Kivu, in combination with kayaking, mountain biking, sailing and  eventually later on horse riding.

All the profits of the Birambye-Lodge will be used to cover the educational needs (mainly University) of orphans.

The Children's Village Kigarama is attracting visitors from all over the world because it is developing into a  world-class technology demonstration center.

The orphanage is developing efficient businesses in order to stop any kind of dependency upon charity and donations.  At the same time the Children's Village Kigarama is preparing all the orphans living in it to be useful and successful citizens.

The Children's Village Kigarama Projects

The Orchard project
 
The Children’s Village Kigarama produced during the year of 2012 a total of 11461 pineapple fruits with an estimated value of 2,865,250 RWF (around 4775 USD) ,and 710 Kg of guavas with a value of 81,000 RWF (135 USD). All fruits harvested were for onsite consumption. Our average pineapple harvest per month, as of right now, is around 955 fruits (32 daily).

THE VEGETABLE PROJECT

The Children’s Village was able to produce vegetables during the year 2012 worth 2,113,970 RWF (3,523 USD). One and a half Hectares of vegetable plot produced the following harvest: 1,442 Kg corn, 2,319 Kg cabbage, 831 Kg red beets, 989 Kg tomatoes, 118 Kg onions, 2061 Kg carrots, 102 Kg eggplants, 27 Kg soybeans, 600 Kg sweet potatoes, 685 Kg green beans, 36 Kg beans, 550 Kg native eggplants, 150 Kg squash, and 288 Kg of corn grain.

THE FOREST PROJECT (PART ONE)

The Children’s Village Kigarama prepared during the months of January/February 2012 a plot of 2.1 Hectares with the plan to plant Eucalyptus trees there. All the non Eucalyptus trees were cut down, and transported to the orphanage as firewood. The entire plot was cultivated two times, and nine thousand (9,000) holes were dug. At the end of February, nine thousand (9,000) Eucalyptus trees were transplanted.

THE CHICKEN PROJECT

The Children’s Village Kigarama built during the months of January/February 2012 a new chicken house. The Children’s Village Kigarama has the goal to produce 3,000 eggs per month. Half of the production will be for the children (1,500 eggs per month), and the other half will be for sale.

THE GUAVA PROJECT

The Children’s Village Kigarama has developed during the last seven years, one of the largest fruit productions in the entire country of Rwanda. Nine hundred sixty-five (965) more guava trees were added to our fruit production program.

THE EDUCATION (UMWANNA) PROJECT
 
During the months of July/August 2012, the  Children’s Village Kigarama, together with Teachers Without Borders-Halle/Belgium, conducted a very special educational program. Six professional teachers/educators from TWB-Halle/Belgium came to the orphanage and stayed for a period of almost two months while running educational programs with the kids and staff members.

THE COW FORRAGE PROJECT

During the past years, a Cow Project with the goal to provide the babies/small children with fresh milk. For the moment, out of the three female cows, only one is mature enough to produce milk (an average of 300 liters per month). In order to expand the amount of cows at the Children’s Village Kigarama, the administration of the orphanage has decided to increase our forage capacity. During the months of February/March 2012, a plot of two (2) Hectares was cultivated, and Elephant Grass for feeding the cows was planted. The new planted Elephant Grass, in combination with the several kilometers of Calliandra hedges, will be enough to feed up to twelve (12) cows in the future.

THE MISSION PROJECT

The Children’s Village Kigarama conducted two evangelistic efforts during the year 2012: one in Gikongoro (June 6th-24th), and the other in Nyakimana (October 10th- 21st). During each of the two week periods, over thirty orphans from the Children’s Village Kigarama stayed in Gikongoro and Nyakimana singing and inviting people to attend the evangelistic services. A total of two hundred and one (201) persons were baptized, and became new members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

THE ORCHARD BUSINESS PLAN PROJECT

The Children’s Village Kigarama is aiming to process tons of dried fruit, and export them to the USA/ Europe. For that purpose, the Children’s Village Kigarama is planning to build a fruit processing hall on the orphanage’s campus. In order to better understand and execute the Orchard Buisness Project, the Children’s Village Kigarama decided to improve and update the Orchard Business Plan.

THE TAILORING PROJECT
 
The Tailoring School of the Children’s Village Kigarama graduated, on November 11th 2012, one generation of six (6) young female tailors. After two years of training, six young women obtained their certification as tailors. The second group of 8 students is in the first year of training. The tailoring school is not only providing a vocational training to many young people in the community, but is also producing hundreds of school uniforms for several neighboring schools. It is an economically independent department able to cover all its expenses by producing clothes, and through the school fees of the students.

THE CHILDREN
 
The Children’s Village Kigarama took care of 119 children during the year 2012. The orphanage covered all of their basic needs and provided them with a family home. The amount of children living in the orphanage during the year of 2012 was the following: 9 children ages 0 to 2 years old (5 males and 4 females), 8 children ages 3 to 5 years old (5 males and 3 females), 26 children ages 6 to 12 years old (15 males and 11 females), 47 children ages 13 to 17 years old (27 males and 20 females), and 31 residents over 18 years of age (17 males and 14 females). The orphanage had a total of 67 males and 52 females.

The school attendance was as follows: 48 children went to secondary school, 57 went to primary school, 8 small children attended the kindergarten and 6 babies stayed at the baby house. Only one grown up mentally handicapped woman is not attending school (Chantal Mirindi). Five young adults (3 men and 2 women) were successfully reintegrated into the Rwandan society. At the beginning of the year 2013, The Children’s Village Kigarama had 114 children. All the children are healthy and happy.

Other projects executed were;

•    The Film Project (A)
•    The Fundraising Project
•    The Lightning Protection System Project
•    The Stove Maintenance Project
•    The Cow Stable Project
•    The Forest Project- Part Two
•    The Film Project (B)
•    The Fruit Drying Project
•    The Erosion Channels Project
•    The CD Project
•    The Baby House Project
•    The Kindergarten Project
•    The Volunteers Project
•    The Donations Project

Agricultural Work Program

Executive Summary:

The main goal of the Children’s Village Kigarama is to provide a good, harmonic environment for the intellectual, spiritual, social and physical growth of all our children, which includes preparing the children to become upstanding, contributing members of society when it is time for them to leave our care. To that end, the orphanage has instituted an Agricultural Work Program (AWP) designed to instill a work ethic and life skills that will assist them in their journey.

Mission:

The Mission of the AWP is to further support the existing goals of the orphanage which include:

• Self-sufficiency and life/work skills: Through instruction and execution the children learn the value of work and the ultimate rewards. They also are able to grow their own food in the future.

• Problem solving: As the children are responsible for completing their own assigned responsibilities, they will be required to overcome obstacles. With the appropriate guidance they learn to develop workable solutions to those problems.

In addition the AWP teaches the children about the food lifecycle and they gain a deeper understanding of where their own food comes from. Food becomes less of an entitlement and something that they actually participate in producing.

Program Description

At L’Esperance, the children are grouped into families with a mother or father assigned to each unit. They live, work, cook, eat, play and worship together. This concept extends to the AWP.

Each family unit is assigned a plot of land and with the assistance of an agricultural supervisor; they plant, cultivate and harvest food for the orphanage’s consumption.

Each child is required to work three hours per day, five days per week in the garden when school is in session. During the holidays, the children work five hours per day. The more labor intensive chores are reserved for those children 12 and older, while the younger children are closely supervised by the mother and are given chores that are age appropriate and may be shorter in duration.

The time requirement allows for all work to be completed while simultaneously allowing the children plenty of time for school, homework, and play.

The program allows the orphanage to reduce its external labor costs and therefore, a portion of these savings are passed on to the children as a reward which also introduces them to money management skills—similar to receiving an allowance for completing chores in the household.

The guidelines of the program include:

1. Education first!
2. Participation at age appropriate levels
3. All participate (including mothers, fathers)
4. Older children assist in supervision of younger children
5. Share the rewards
6. Have fun/relax
7. Prepare for success in life

Outcomes:

The program mimics what many of these children would experience if they were part of a traditional rural Rwandan family.

At a young age, these children are taken into the fields by their mothers where they are taught the names of plants, learn how to grow seedlings, how to keep the plants healthy and when to harvest. These children never take for granted where their food comes from and also are able to support their own gardens when they leave the family home. A work ethic is instilled at an early age and reinforced throughout their childhood.

It is easy for a child in an orphanage to feel that they are entitled to food, clothing, water and other basic needs. They sometimes do not question where the supply comes from or how difficult it is to obtain or replenish. We properly care for the kids without spoiling them.

At L’Esperance we highly value education and the opportunities it brings and it is a top priority. However, for a variety of reasons, not all of the children are able to continue on to University. With the AWP they are taught work skills and gain experience that they can take out into the world and make them more employable.

While in its early stages, the AWP has already begun to see the following results:

Increased sense of responsibility in the children and less idle time

• Reduced agricultural labor expense meaning more money can be invested in the
children’s care and education

• Better management and presentation of all our agricultural fields

• Ability to invest savings into more projects

Conclusion:

The Children’s Village Kigarama is thrilled with the early success of the AWP and how the children have embraced the program.

The next step is to implement a money management training program for the children. We look forward to continued implementation and improvement and ultimately, the positive impacts it will have on all of our children and their success in life.

Contact

Victor Monroy, Director
L’Esperance Children’s Aid Rwanda.
Children’s Village Kigarama
P.O.Box 5026 Kigali, Rwanda
Tel. +250/(0)788545731
Email: lesperancerwanda@aol.com
Web: www.lesperancerwanda.org
www.victormonroytrust.com
www.icatis.org/birambye

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