When Bollywood actress Ahuja visited Rwanda’s Jordan Foundation

Last week, Bollywood actress and former Miss India Magnificent Woman Icon, Simran Deenz Ahuja came to Rwanda to be part of a humanitarian cause that is dear to her heart.
Ahuja (C) and the delegates surrounded by the visually-impaired children and their caretakers at Jordan Foundation. / Sam Ngendihimana
Ahuja (C) and the delegates surrounded by the visually-impaired children and their caretakers at Jordan Foundation. / Sam Ngendihimana

Last week, Bollywood actress and former Miss India Magnificent Woman Icon, Simran Deenz Ahuja came to Rwanda to be part of a humanitarian cause that is dear to her heart.

With some delegates from India, they visited Jordan Foundation that is home to 20 visually impaired children between the ages of 3 and 10 years. The foundation is located in Gatsata, on the outskirts of Kigali city.

The foundation was founded in 2016 by Mrs. Vanessa Bahati in honour of her visually impaired two year-old child, Jordan Hakiza Guy, and went on to support the development of dozens of children with visual impairment.

Part of the delegates’ mission was to also visit the Kibeho shrine in Nyaruguru District as a pilgrimage.

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Children play at Jordan Foundation as the delegates look on.

Deenz was recently made the ambassador of the foundation so as to use her celebrity status to promote and fundraise for the foundation. This was facilitated by Clarence Fernandes, chairman of Rwanda Renaissance, an organisation that promotes tourism, trade, investment and culture between India and Rwanda with the consent of the foundation’s founder, Vanessa Bahati.

“As a first initiative, we included a visit to Jordan Foundation as part of our city tour. Rwanda Renaissance is also deeply committed towards facilitating Bahati and her team in achieving the lofty goals.”

“I invited Simran because she is a celebrity and an advocate for many charity organisations in and out of India. I believe that she will contribute significantly, towards the development of the foundation,” Fernandes who also visited the place says.

He added: “Some years ago, when the Deputy Head of Mission of the Rwanda Embassy in New Delhi visited Mumbai, I took him to the Happy Home and School for the Blind, a professionally run and managed center for young boys with visual impairment. The diplomat expressed a keen desire to have a similar facility in Rwanda because there was no such thing available in the country at the time.”

“He was soimpressed that he actually remarked: “Clarence, it would be great if we could have a School like this in Rwanda.”It is my firm belief that with the right support, Vanessa Bahati’s Jordan Foundation could well be the answer to the wish of the then Diplomat. We will extend all possible help to make this a reality.”

On the request, the former beauty queen immediately agreed to become the ambassador even before she knew anything about foundation.

“I received the call from Clarence for one of my work tours outside India but I immediately knew that this was an opportunity to make Vanessa’s dream a reality and give hope to these children.”Ahuja explains.

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Ahuja in a group photo with the children.

She could hardly believe her eyes when met the seemingly excited and jolly children. 16 of the children are completely blind while the other 4 children are partially blind. At a tender age they have mastered the art of echolocation to ‘see’ their own way and live independently thanks to their caretakers.

“I was awestruck by how these young kids can feed themselves, and live normal lives. But there are many children out there who deserve this happiness but cannot be admitted because the facility cannot afford to. This is why I want to do all I can to help fundraise for it to expand.”

She emphasises: “I am already part of this cause and now that I have visited the children, I am going to work on the next chapter which is starting the project as an ambassador,” she says.

After some pensive thought she adds: “I think that the best thing to do is to advocate for the foundation in India and let the people donate directly to the project because this is a cause that everybody who can afford to should be part of.”

The future of Jordan Foundation

Meanwhile, as Jordan Foundation received an overseas group of visitors, for their first time, that evening, Bahati was awarded by the First Lady for establishing a charity foundation to support the development of dozens of children with visual impairment, at the YouthConnekt Champions and Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) Awards ceremony

In addition to basic education that the children get from the four full time caretakers, they will be learning how to use the braille early next year.

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Bahati was among the 2017 CYRWA awardees.

Her plans are to set up a school to cater for over 200 children with visual impairments.

Bahati, was invited by Fernandes to Mumbai to “help take this dream project further.”

She will attend a conference by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to advocate for her organisation and also visit Happy Home and School for the Blind to learn a lesson or two from the school.

“There are lots of activities that the young blind boys are doing to become self-reliant and improve their lives which I think that Vanessa can learn from. I hope to help her in the best way possible,” Fernandes says.

Yesterday, Jordan Foundation in collaboration with Aquila, hosted a sports day event, dubbed ‘Am your eye’ to advocate for children with visual impairment, at Gikondo expo grounds and several local celebrities across the country were in attendance.

This, according to the organisers is to create awareness about visual impairments in children and their rights.

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