Why we do what we do
It has been 7 years in a row that we have celebrated Christmas with the community we serve in Eastern DRC. This goes all the way back to the beginning of our Rudi Education program, which currently supports up to 95 students, giving the students access to education, a lifetime opportunity.
Have you ever wondered, “What if you never had access to education? How would your life look like? What if you were not able to send your own kids to school?”
You may also want to read: From 2012 To Know: The Lord has been Faithful
The founders of Rudi International, born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were blessed enough to have access to higher education and they do not take it for granted. That’s why they have decided to find ways they can give back to the community to the glory God; that’s the reason why you have eventually come to partner with them on this Education Program. And we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for such a gift that you are for the children we serve but most importantly to God’s Kingdom that we are helping build togetherby His grace.
As we enter a new year (sending you all our best wishes for 2019), we really want you to know that you are truly making a huge difference. You may have never met any of our beneficiaries (nor any of our volunteers) but please understand that they love you, that we love you and we would love to discuss ways we can come meet you or you come meet us!
Alright, Back to the Christmas 2018 Celebration!
It is December 23rd. A phone call from Rudi’s Executive Director to the Rudi Education Program Coordinator asking him to do his best to get in touch with our students (understand, our sponsored kids), their families and the entire community, telling them that we will FINALLY be able to meet AGAIN, for our biggest and annual celebration.
You will wonder why only 2 days before Christmas? If you have been reading our recent communications, you will have noted that we had started a fundraiser to make our 2018 Christmas celebration possible. If you missed that communication, please drop us a line so we can add you to our mail distribution list. We could have not informed the community until we have reached or were closer to our fundraising goal; unfortunately, in those circumstances, not everyone is informed in time.
So, it took us less than two days to put everything together and rejoice with the community, for the 7th time! Yes, for the past seven years, we have been able to come together, at the same place but with new faces joining us every year. The whole Rudi team (in the US and back in the Congo) is 100% comprised of volunteers among whom some work with us for a while only and others have been with us from the beginning.
On December 24th, the entire DRC team was brought together to start strategizing and doing everything we could to make the event possible. Our sponsors were contacted early on and requested to write and email letters to their sponsored students. Many sponsors did just in time to allow us the time to download, translate (from English to French), to print and to arrange so everyone received their letter the next day. To those who sent in theirs a bit late: we promise that these will get to your sponsored students!
On December 25th at 9am, some of our team members were already in Lac Vert, at a large open area that we have been offered by the school to hold our public activities, to welcome the first comers and wait for those who will join us a bit later as the made their way back from church. Our 2 comedians were ready to lead the show and entertain the crowd which is grew bigger and bigger as time went on.
For us and for the community we serve, Christmas is an important event and we take it seriously. It is an opportunity to speak to the community and remind them about Jesus Christ, who is God’s gift to the whole humanity, reminding everyone of His love. On your behalf, we walk in this love by sharing a meal with those who are not able to have one in their families. All our donors, sponsors and volunteers are having a share in this blessing. Thank you very much!
So, what really happened on the D-day?
We had an opportunity to meet with some of the parents that we were able to contact. We discussed about the Gospel and shared why we do what we do with them. We always take the opportunity to remind these parents that Rudi is simply a channel, a ministry that is formed of individuals who have been blessed in one way or another and who have decided to share that blessing with others, through the gift of education or counseling.
We do remind them to take their children’s education seriously by doing whatever they can to help them be successful in school and remember them their prayers. At the end of the day, we also shared a meal together, in a moment of joy and our hearts full of thanksgiving to the Lord our God. The celebration is not only about children, it is for adults as well, right?!
Read what we did in the past : Our 2017 Christmas Celebration
At the same time, the remainder of the community was busy outside, dancing, singing and having fun before they come together again into the various classrooms to receive the meal that concluded the day.
This has always been the hardest part of the day, trying to bring everyone to the waiting lines as they enter the classrooms, be seated and then call one after one to be served and go back to their seats. Our sponsored students have always asked to not be mixed with the rest of their pairs not only because they want to spend time together as a group but it is also an opportunity for us to have all of them at one place for special communications.
Specific group meetings
Not all our students were able to join us, partly due to a late notice but those who were there gathered at the beginning of the day to receive their letters. A group of volunteers seating by the younger ones who are not able to read by themselves; the older ones, reading for themselves and everyone getting ready to write back.
With the support of our volunteers, everyone was able to receive a letter and write back (some received a direct letter from their sponsor, others a common letter sent through a form of Penpal system that we are designing). These letters will be mailed to our team in the US to be distributed to our various sponsors.
Some of these letters were also read to the parents who felt very touched: “I praise God who has given me another family so far form Congo. A family who thinks of us, prays for us, and truly loves us the way Christ loved the church,” a mother publicly shared. “Please tell them how thankful we are and that we are praying for God’s blessings upon each one of them.”
Two other groups were able to meet separately right before the meal was served. Our older girls (from Primary 6 to Secondary 4) met with some of older female volunteers for a conversation around “What it means to be a grown girls and what happens when one is growing.” The same topic was discussed with older boys, by a group of our older volunteers while the others were busy serving food to community members in various classrooms.
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These group meetings will continue for the rest of the school year at the high demand of students who found them very useful. “There are things we cannot discuss when boys are there. We need some privacy, we need to feel safe to better speak and ask for advice”, said Nsii one of the older students.
It was a busy yet fun day.
We are thankful to God who helped us make it possible and to our friends and supporters for joining us with their hands in various ways. We look forward to the upcoming celebrations and hope to have more time to be a lot more creative with our activities on Christmas day.