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Working together to bring sunshine and smiles back in the lives of the women from Bwira and their families
The Ubuntu Centre is a non for profit charity that was set up in France in 2009, with current members also based in the UK and in Belgium. Our vision is without borders. We work closely with the group of women ABIHUJE – meaning together - based in Bwira, in the West of Rwanda.
The Ubuntu Centre is an associated project of Women for a Change. More information can be found on the Safe World for Women website.
Read our president’s testimony here!
Ubuntu means the essence of humanity, generosity. The project of the Ubuntu Centre is to build and set up a community centre with and for the women from ABIHUJE so that they can thrive by sharing activities, learn from each other and regain confidence in themselves and in their qualities. The Ubuntu centre was also conceived to give children from Bwira the chance to grow up in peace, and to go beyond the recent history of war, genocide and trauma that their parents have endured.
… if it were you, near your house, in your town. Over there, they don’t talk of towns, they talk of hills. The country of the thousand hills.
… A house that is different from any other, a symbolic place where your humanity meets the humanity of others.
You are always welcome.
Freedom and respect are one, you are at home.
A sharing space, the house where you are allowed to receive and to give.
One day your children will show this house to your grand-children and say: "We were brought up in dignity!"
We believe that everyone has an intrinsic value and has gifts to share. In post-genocide Rwanda, more than ever, it is vital to go beyond differences, to be and to do together. The Ubuntu Centre aims at fostering mutually supportive relationships through a skills exchange scheme, a self-help group and collective projects, in order to facilitate communication between members and to help them meet their basic needs.
We are currently supporting the basket-making craftwork of the women from ABIHUJE: you can view their work here. We helped to provide advice on domestic composting in Bwira and have built a community centre with local materials, in close collaboration with our members. They can now use it for their activities especially during the rainy season and children are able to do their homework together, with adult support even if the parent(s) are away. We have set up a programme of sponsoring children who need support to continue their education and currently have 25 sponsored that way. We are also currently developing projects to improve water infrastructure and electricity supply. [last update: April 2014]
We believe that getting involved on a personal level to assist others brings joy, and is a way of taking the responsibility of our own humanity.
- Giving what is possible, so that giving brings joy and fulfilment
- Giving, knowing that intermediaries are minimal
- Giving and receiving = getting to know each other, expanding our own perspective, exchanging skills and experiences
- Giving with respect, without wanting to change the other, and allowing him/her to give in return
- Raising awareness about everyone’s potential, helping each other to thrive and develop confidence
Travelling to Rwanda, by Alexandra
In July 2014 a group of 8 members of the Centre Ubuntu will be travelling to Rwanda. As a group, we will be able to achieve more and will come with a diversity of skills, ranging from project management to building. Two members arrived in Bwira at the end of April and by the time we go, he will have already done good preparatory work and will be able to advise on technical requirements for the electricity project and planning for the building of the second community centre.
We will in particular:
- Get to meet and know the women from Abihuje and their families, share their realities and tell them about ours: the Association Ubuntu puts an emphasis on relationships and collaboration. We work in partnership and believe that putting faces to names and meeting is an invaluable aspect of giving practical help : we don’t want to be impersonal, unknown people far away, seemingly with power and money, we want to break prejudices, learn from each other and develop ideas and projects together;
- Negotiate with local authorities about the projects that have been initiated for improving water infrastructure and bringing electricity to the village: we aim to get their approval to work in collaboration and be credible towards funding partners. We will reinforce the capacities of the Abihuje members for project management and communication with local authorities (our President, Goretti, has a long experience of project work in Rwanda at a grassroots level);
- We’ll put the first stone of the new Community Centre financed through a crowd-sourcing initiative and take part in the monthly Umuganda, which roughly translates as “collective effort”. It is a community service that each able-bodied Rwandan between 18 and 65 has to contribute to: activities include cleaning streets, cutting grass and trimming bushes along roads, repairing public facilities or building houses for vulnerable people. People with particular skills can offer their services for free on this day. This helps to build community involvement and strengthens cohesion between people from different backgrounds;
- Alex will give a session on the use of the internet: what tools can be used for online communication and networking, how to look for and trust information found online, tools for online promotion etc., because what appears obvious here isn’t necessarily there;
- Ronny will take good quality photographs and make a short video to use as promotion material for future projects;
- We’re looking forward to meeting with Mahoro and her family, the 18 year old young lady we’ve been supporting for a couple of years through our child sponsoring programme;
- Finally, it will be a way for the members of the association Ubuntu of commemorating the 20th sad anniversary of the genocide, by accompanying the people who are alive.
Our supporters in the UK
Like A Journey, Needle work with a conscience by Alexandra
ravenswood murakoze, November 2013, CRAFT GROUP in England
support-horizons-craft-group-murakoze, October 2013, CRAFT GROUP in the UK