While the tension is rising once again in the eastern cities and villages of the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while news agencies are reporting the crossing into Congo of numerous armed rebels in the this January 2017, while the majority Congolese population continues to live in fear, trauma, and extreme poverty right in the middle of one of the potentially richest countries in the world, a group of young men and women are focusing on what the Lord God gave them to do.
They are volunteering time, energy, and other resources to point a select group of about 10 women and young ladies to the Lord Jesus and the hope He gives while teaching them a skill that would help them provide for themselves and their families.
Through the Encourage Mothers program, Rudi International, a youth-led and Christ focused non-profit organization, is running the second year of Renew Hope. This project is a response to the need of a holistic approach to solving profound and deeply rooted issues among the women and children of Lac Vert, a city where most of the participants in Renew Hope reside. Rudi International partners with Linked Through Love Foundation, a Canadian non-profit organization, to make this project at all possible. Linked Through Love Foundation provides you with a way to give, to join in the work, and to learn some more about the Encourage Mothers project.
Renew Hope consists in classes where the women receive training in sewing skills. These have proven beneficial both to the first group that graduated in 2016 and to the new group that started right after them. Of the first group, Ms. Philomene testifies of her own progress and the confidence gained in one month of training:
“When I first came here, everything was hard for me. From using scissors to cutting a piece of tissue, it is a long journey. The month was not too long, now I am proud to present a shirt and a dress I was able to sew. I am thankful to God and to our trainers who are putting in a lot of efforts to help us go through our first steps”.
Philomene is just one of the 10 students who are this year benefiting from the collaboration between Linked Through Love Foundation and Rudi International who are serving Jesus Christ with the immediate goal of “Improving the lives of vulnerable, at risk women by providing them marketable skills they can use to escape the restraints of poverty and/or abusive relationships, providing them independence and an ability to provide for their families.” (LTLF)
“Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Proverb 31:9
With God’s grace, you have helped us do just that this past year. Let’s walk back to 2015 and count our blessings together!
-Alain Rafiki, Co-Founder & President at Rudi International, non-profit
2015 was a very exciting year for Rudi International. We are so thankful for your continued support as we strive to make a difference in Goma, DR Congo. Please read on to catch a few of the highlights from 2015! We certainly can not contain all of God’s goodness and blessing in one update. So, after reading these highlights, please feel free to check out our website, additional hyperlinks, and our Facebook page for a more in-depth look into our programs.
Thank you to each and everyone who donated, shared, and prayed for this event. Over and over again, you overwhelmed us with your support and kindness. A special thanks to Mrs. H.G. who joined the Rudi team to help head up this project. We can not thank you enough for all the time you spent behind the scenes making this campaign a success. Thank you to all our friends who joined in on our social media #UNselfie campaign through the community at Divine Moments. You rallied, shared and gave. Thank you for putting love in action.
This year we also had several generous friends who provided matching donations at various times. We can not thank you enough for rallying with us in this way and making our 2015 Christmas Project a success.
We have captured some highlights on video for you: This video shows some of the best moments of our 2015 Christmas celebration as it happened in Goma, Eastern Congo. For the past 4 years, we have been celebrating Christmas as part of our Rudi Education program, gathering 400+ community members, including our 70+ sponsored students.
Art classes for the children enrolled in Rudi Education
This year, we partnered again with BADEN Development, a youth-led organization specialized in arts, handcrafts etc. They spent two days with the kids working on jewelry, earrings, bracelets, and postcards using local materials. It was yet another opportunity for the kids to be involved in these kinds of exercises such as drawing on boards and on papers, and different types of arts. Every day from 8am to 2pm, they worked on various projects. At the end of the day, before going back home, the children in attendance were provided a refreshment.
The BADEN team was overseen by our Rudi volunteers who spent their time supporting the kids working on various projects. This was a great opportunity for the kids to develop their art senses, abilities and curiosity. These activities help the children imagine, brainstorm, create and challenge their senses. It helps them to get out of their comfort zone and produce something new. At the end the workshop they were all excited at their accomplishment. All of the produced materials/crafts are being kept at our office. We hope to be able to sell them to people who are interested in art.
Encourage Mothers’ Workshop
Through our Encourage Mothers’ program, we gathered some of the mothers of our sponsored kids. They gathered together to not only celebrate Christmas but also to participate in a workshop to learn new culinary skills. Malnutrition is one of the issues and reasons leading to deaths of children in the community.
The mothers spent three days learning and practicing innovative ways of learning how to use inexpensive food items to make meals containing nutrients that their children need.
“You don’t need to be rich or to have a lot of money in order to provide good food to your kids. You only need to know how you can use the same dishes you are eating everyday to produce healthy meals for your family and kids”, said Jeanet, our program coordinator for Encourage Mothers.
Christmas Day Community Celebration
Early in the morning, the children and other community members attended their local churches. After they returned from church they joined us at the school where the Christmas celebration has taken place for the past four years. Rudi volunteers arrived early Christmas morning and began preparations for the event. By 10 am, almost everyone had arrived at the school to begin the celebration.
Activities included a soccer tournament for the boys, dances for the girls and different games that included all the children. These activities started around 10 am and wrapped up around 3 pm. At around 3pm the team started to serve food to everyone who was in attendance. We reach nearly 400 people in this community event every year. Christmas Project 2015 was another great success and was an amazing celebration for the whole Lac Vert community.
This community expressed many times their gratefulness for Rudi International continuing to spend Christmas with them year after year. We could not put on this event without our amazing in-country team of volunteers. Over 10 people came from Goma city and spent the day with us. They joined our other Rudi volunteers in helping take care of the children and brought new exciting activities to make the day a memorable experience.
“For the past 4 years, I am no longer celebrating Christmas with my own family or my church community but spending with the people that need it the most, the people who have no other opportunity to celebrate. Living in the city, we have so many opportunities. I am humbled and thankful to God who is allowing me to be part of Rudi International’s work with communities in need”, commented, John one of our volunteers.
Thank you to each and everyone of our volunteers who joined us this Christmas to celebrate with joy and hope the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the reason we do what we do. If you would like to see more pictures besides the ones included in this newsletter please go here: Christmas Project 2015 Pictures.
We are excited to officially share this BIG news with you our friends, supporters and partners. The Lord God we are serving is working and is expanding our work, helping us to go beyond our own limitations as we serve those in need. We are grateful.
Our Encourage Mother’s program has grown big.
We have been praying, working, reaching out to our supporters on ways to empower women in Lac Vert with life skills, as a way for us to move to the next level. Since its start, we have been mostly dealing with our counseling work, providing a safe space for healing conversations. Over 40 women, many of them being the mothers of our sponsored students through Rudi Education, are attending weekly Bible-based counseling sessions.
Because at Rudi International we believe in a holistic approach to helping those in need, we are happy to tell you that a small portion of your sponsorship donation is allocated to these trauma-healing and related activities. When you sponsor a student through our education program, you are contributing to improving his or her family environment.
Through our partnership with Linked Through Love Foundation, a Canadian-based sister organization, we are able to move to a next step, which is a big one. A SEWING project has kicked off in Goma this June, at our new offices. Ten (10) out of the Encourage Mothers women have been selected to be trained in sewing skills for 10 months.
At the end of this program, these women will be able to start small sewing businesses and earn additional income that will lead to a more sustainable financial situation. We need them to be able to provide for the needs of their families. We want the students we are sponsoring for education to be able to have food, shelter and their basic needs be covered in order to perform well at school.
There is a common saying in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “When you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation”. It is true and we are working on this.
The rest of the group will keep with their weekly meetings. Another group of them will be chosen to undertake the same program as the second class.
Read full blog post from our partner’s website explaining this project and consider donating today to fund the next phases of this project:
The sewing project’s main objective is to provide these women with income generating activities appropriate to the skills being learned, making them self-sufficient. Phase 1-3 will focus on learning new sewing skills and working on sewing projects, including making school uniforms. This not only provides an avenue to learn and practice the skills, but provides new uniforms for the education program so that funds donated and allocated to buying school uniforms can be reassigned towards sponsoring more children or be used for the betterment of the Encourage Mothers – Renew Hope program. During the phase 4 practicum, women will focus on specific projects designed to be sold to the public to help generate income for the programs expenses.
That time of the year when we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. At Rudi International, we want to do this with those who have little to no means of celebrating because they cannot afford a decent meal for Christmas or New Year or even clothing.
Thinking about a gift for Christmas? Please give a meal and the opportunity to learn a new marketable skill for a mother in war-torn Goma, a smile, or a full tummy to a kid in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can GIVE any or some of that at this link.
The Full Story
Christmas with Rudi International reaches beyond the ministry of the children in the education program. Through this event each year the whole Lac Vert community is invited to gather, rejoice and to have fun, enjoying the holiday together. The Christmas project was launched in 2012 as an outreach to the entire community. That first year around 208 children were fed and over 300 attended the planned activities.
In 2013, with your support, the event reached even more and more people. Rudi International was able to involve the whole community, the celebrations taking two days! We gathered three different groups on Dec 24th and the big celebration with everyone happened on Dec 25th. Those events included a special art camp with the children enrolled in the education program and a training event for volunteers in the community who would help with the event on Christmas. The 3rd group was focused on women, 27 mothers attended. The workshop was directed by Mama Jeannet, our volunteer, a great women who is directing the “Encourage Mothers” program. They celebrated Christmas on their own, talking about their role as women to support their families. They spent time singing and dancing and were encouraged to forget a little bit about their problems and focus on Christ, the reason for the celebration. At the end, the youths and women received a small package (rice, soap, beans, kitchen oil, etc), to make sure they celebrate Christmas on the next day while we will be feasting with the kids on the following day.
It was a special and unique opportunity in the area where parents are not able to offer anything on this special day for their kids.
We are really humbled each year to see God using Rudi’s team of volunteers to bring joy to the community which is comprised of people affected by war.
In 2014, with the growth of our education program increasing from 32 children to 70, (Praise God!) we have a big task ahead to raise funds for our 2014 Christmas Project. Will you help us by making a donation of any amount to help feed the children of the community? Aprox.Cost: $1500
$5 – will help feed a child in the community and provide fun activities to attend on Christmas day.
Rudi International is also hoping to provide activities for the children and women involved in Rudi’s education and Encourage Mother’s program. We have 70 students who will be attending the art camps. We have about 40 women in the other program who will attend a workshop to learn how to make plastic bags which is a skill they can use as a trade. During the workshops the Rudi team will also be feeding them a lunch of bread and drinks Approx. Cost: $950
A $10 donation – A child gets to attend art camp and have lunch
A $10 donation – A women gets to learn a trade and have lunch