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Liberty has provided funds for a new preschool for 39 children along with clothes, shoes and laptops
There stands a building in the African country of Rwanda that is different from every other building. The structure may not look any different to the naked eye, but there is one large distinction. The structure was built by Liberty University.
Almost 20 years ago in the country of Rwanda, 800,000 people were murdered because of their ethnic background in a civil war between the two ethnic groups of Rwanda — the Tutsi and the Hutu. The genocide destroyed the country, and even today, the country is still recovering.
Liberty University introduced “Restore Rwanda,” a project with a goal of making a change in the lives of the people affected by the genocide, in February of 2012 during Missions Emphasis Week.
According to the Liberty University News Service, the vision to make a change in Rwanda started when 19 Liberty students visited Rwanda on a mission trip in November of 2011. They visited one village where 40 widows of the Rwandan genocide and their children lived in extreme poverty. The families did not have running water, the children did not go to school and electricity was nonexistent in the village.
The mission team prayed that they could somehow provide this village with clean water. God answered, and the village received clean water. They then realized that the children would grow up uneducated, and that their lives could be improved by education.
“We wanted to have a viral campaign across the Internet with our friends and our family that started from here in Lynchburg, Va., that would change the destiny of some kids in Rwanda whose fathers and families were affected by this tragic event,” Liberty’s Vice President for Communications Johnnie Moore said.
“Restore Rwanda” is the realization of that vision.
According to the Liberty University News Service, Liberty University, partnering with the nonprofit organization World Help, had raised $24,000 through the “Restore Rwanda” campaign as of April of 2012.
The $24,000 was used to construct a preschool building near Kigali, Rwanda. Along with the construction, the funds provided school supplies, uniforms and the one-year salary of a teacher and an assistant.
“Our prayer is that the Lord will provide funding to do two additional buildings like (the preschool) to capture all those other children in that immediate surrounding area, giving them opportunity,” Cyrus Mad-Bondo, Liberty alumnus and Africa regional director for World Help, said.
According to the Liberty University News Service, the school building was built on the Star School campus in Masaka, a small town approximately 45 minutes outside of the capital city of Kigali.
Thirty-nine children from the village attended school for the first time July 2 of last year.
Mad-Bondo, who has overseen most of the projects in Rwanda, was in Masaka for the building’s dedication. The building is the only building dedicated to preschool-age children, and Mad-Bondo believes this will help the school’s retention rate of its students.
“Many of these mothers would never have been able to send their kids to school,” Mad-Bondo said. “The dropout rate for older, (previously) unschooled children is quite high. When these children enter school very early, they are likely to stay in school. These children can make life-altering decisions very quickly.”
It is harder to get older children adjusted to the school routine when they have never before been exposed to the school structure, Mad-Bondo explained.
“When you get them in school very early, they have a better chance of getting a better education,” Mad-Bondo said. “When kids have not come to school until they start getting older, they tend to be embarrassed and drop out of school. So ‘Restore Rwanda’ was an effort to say what do we do to capture those kids very early. And by building a preschool, you are able to address that.”
This building is not only for the children of the genocide victims. Mad-Bondo went on to explain the future of the preschool building.
“(The preschool had) originally adopted 39 children from the widow’s village… and have already spent one full year at the Star School in that preschool building that was completed last March,” Mad-Bondo said. “The first group of children from the widow’s village are currently attending school, but have been promoted to first grade. So you now have the building that was built by Liberty, capturing children of that same age range from the surrounding communities.”
The preschool will promote education and provide material that will allow children attending the school to continue in their studies and hopefully stay in school, Mad-Bondo explained. But this building is not the only thing Liberty is doing to impact Rwandan lives.
According to the Liberty University News Service, on Liberty’s last trip to Rwanda in November of 2012, 1,000 pounds of clothes and shoes were given to the widows and children.
Liberty also donated laptops to be used at the Star School so that students could learn essential computer skills needed for this day and age, the Liberty University News Service said.
But the ministry in Rwanda did not end when the missionaries left the country.
“The team brought back 500 bags made by Rwandans in a vocational school,” the Liberty University News Service said. “The students from the school were either prostitutes or orphans that were taken off the streets and placed there to learn a trade and receive an income.”
These bags are now being sold at the Liberty Bookstore.
“Restore Rwanda” has not only affected the lives of Rwandans, but has also affected the lives of those who have been involved with the campaign.
An example of the impact of the “Restore Rwanda” initiative can be seen in Liberty alumna Laura Yockey, who went on the mission trip to Rwanda in November of 2011. After finishing her Master of Arts in professional counseling, Yockey moved to Rwanda.
According to the Liberty University News Service, Yockey started a nonprofit organization called ‘Love Alive International,’ which uses 100 percent of its proceeds to meet the daily needs of Rwandans.
According to lovealiveinternational.com, the goal of the organization is to show the love of Christ through sharing the gospel and humanitarian aid.
The “Restore Rwanda” campaign is an ongoing campaign, and Mad-Bondo hopes that this is just the beginning of Liberty University’s involvement in Rwanda.
“On the 16 (of November 2013), a group of almost 24 people from Liberty are going to Rwanda,” Mad-Bondo said.
According to Mad-Bondo, Admistrative Dean for Graduate Programs Kevin Corsini will be leading the group, and Assistant Professor of Nursing Kathryn Miller, will also be going. They will be assessing what Liberty can continue to work on in Rwanda.
The nursing program is hoping to begin including the “Restore Rwanda” idea into their curriculum, according to Mad-Bondo.
“They want to assess and see what areas should be considered for adoption for the nursing program, so that students in the nursing department can do follow-up internships (there),” Mad-Bondo said.
According to Mad-Bondo, God’s calling for Liberty students to make an impact in the world is at the heart of the “Restore Rwanda” campaign.
“Our prayer is that the Lord will provide funding to do two additional buildings like that to capture all those other children in that immediate surrounding area, giving them opportunity,” Mad-Bondo said.
Liberty continues to send student help to Rwanda, along with additional financial support.