by Nancy Lasseter
On Friday, Dec. 4, the all volunteer-staffed non-profit Rwanda Sustainable Families (RSF) will host its 6th holiday fundraiser. Featured will be the sale of items made by the RSF — founded artisan cooperative in Rubavu, Rwanda, a silent auction of holiday gift baskets, and a raffle of Rwandan quilts. Green gift cards will be available that will gift a hen or year of school or kitchen garden to loved ones who would prefer to receive a gift that benefits the less fortunate. The evening’s events, held at the Wooly from 7–10pm, will include a performance at 8:15 by the UF Drum and Dance ensemble Agbedidi and music at 7 by the Boilin’ Oil duo.
This year’s fundraiser marks the beginning of the 6th year that RSF has had a strong presence in Rubavu, Rwanda. Their mission entails investing in communities and empowering lives, specifically the lives of the most impoverished villagers of Rwanda. RSF supports an artisan cooperative called Komera, (which translates to “Strong”) and has a thriving preschool called Mucyo (“Light”) that educates the disenfranchised children of Rubavu who are typically too hungry and weak to go to school.
RSF feeds 125 children daily at Mucyo preschool. There are 90 children aged 4-7 years who happily eat porridge each school morning. Their siblings, in primary school, stop by Mucyo in the morning for breakfast before they go off to school. Each child is provided shoes, uniform, and school supplies, which replace the torn, dirty rags that once caused them to be shunned. In their uniforms, they all are on a level playing field.
And speaking of playing, their teachers use playful rhyme and song for most lessons. If you were to stop in for a visit to Mucyo, you would be greeted by shouts of “Good morning teacher!” followed by endless songs about how they brush their teeth before they come to school and so on. The children just don’t want to stop singing, for their hope for a future is alive and in their hearts. They enjoy hands on lessons in farming and nutrition from their keyhole gardens. They learn about raising livestock from their care of the schools hen house. The gardens and hen house provide them with much-needed additional nutrition.
“RSF wants to give a helping hand that we neglected to offer during the genocide of 1994, when 800,000 people were slaughtered in 90 days,” says Nancy Lasseter, RSF’s director and co-founder.
“We have the resources and opportunity to help Rwandans to get their lives back, to be healthy, to be fulfilled and to lead productive lives. On the advice of our Rwandan staff, we started a preschool that targets the forgotten children of Rwanda. Mucyo charges them with belief in themselves, in their community of friends and in their future in their country. We invest in helping the children and their families by funding projects that provide education, jobs and clean water. In return, we anticipate that these opportunities will continue to multiply as they rise out of poverty, take over projects we seeded and become more active citizens of their country. It takes a global village working together to reshape a country that was once shattered. I personally have witnessed the restoration of trust between neighbors as well as a renewed love of life itself, and we are grateful to be part of this transformation.”
Nancy Lasseter will present a slideshow on the beauty of Rwandan people, their “land of a thousand hills” and the work of RSF at 7:30 pm. For more information, visit rsfafrica.org and visit our RSF facebook Annual Fundraiser event page.