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November 22, 2023

Caritas Rwanda joined the Saint Charles Lwanga Nyamirambo Parish on 19th November 2023, to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the International Day of the Poor. The ceremony began with a holy mass at the parish, followed by food sharing and the distribution of gifts to the poor.

Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi who celebrated the mass, referred to the message of Pope Francis for this International Day of the Poor with the theme “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor” Tob 4:7. In this message, Pope Francis says that the celebration of the World Day of the Poor is a fruitful sign of the Father’s mercy and a support for the lives of our communities and that its celebration becomes more and more rooted in the pastoral life of the Church, to enable us to discover ever the heart of the Gospel[1].

Pope Francis says that the elderly Tobit mentioned in this book did not only ask his son to worship God but also encouraged him to make concrete gestures, carry out good works, and practice justice.

After the Holy Mass, guests and around 200 invited poor people gathered in the Josephite Brothers Congregation’s conference room at Nyamirambo to continue the celebration of the day. The speeches of various participants were centered on love and, more specifically, sharing with the poor. The lunch of the day was shared and various gifts were given to the poor in that event. In his speech, Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi explained that the word Caritas means love, and added that this love must be accompanied by charity works towards people around us.

Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi explained that Caritas means love.

Nsabiyaremye Jean d’Amour, acting director of Caritas Rwanda’s Department of Social Welfare, who delivered his speech on behalf of the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, said that the Church’s teachings on love should be applied everywhere, that the person who receives assistance could also help someone else, if possible because even if a person feels poor, there is always someone else who may need his/her help. Everyone should listen to the poor, sympathize with the poor, and assist him/her.

Cécile Mukandamage, in her testimony, said that Caritas supported her enormously. “You know, it’s not easy to live in Kigali while you are poor. But Caritas provided me with food, clothes, and a house rent fee”, she said.

During the distribution of gifts, the students from Les Hirondelles de Don Bosco school offered school materials to the students from Rugarama Primary School. There was also the distribution of gifts (food) to the poor in this ceremony. The poor, who participated in the event, also received transportation fees of Frw 2,000 each.

the students from Les Hirondelles de Don Bosco school offered school materials to the students from Rugarama Primary School.

[1] https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/20230613-messaggio-vii-giornatamondiale-poveri-2023.html

November 18, 2023

Together with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and Rubavu District, Caritas Rwanda through its Igire-Gimbuka program conducted the campaign against gender-based violence with a focus on teenage pregnancy prevention in schools. It was held from 15th to 16th November 2023, in Rubavu District schools.

This campaign was carried out in the GS Rubavu II and GS Shwemu from Rugerero sector (on 15th November 2023) and GS Rambo from the Nyamyumba sector (16th November 2023).

The message was delivered through songs, dramas, and acrobatics demonstrations, which focused on calling on girls to avoid peer pressure that can cause them to adopt bad habits, and talk to parents when they see changes in their bodies and/or when they are sexually abused. They were also told that the sexually abused child should be immediately taken to the nearest Isange One Stop center to receive first aid and for evidence conservation.

Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle acrobats perfoming at GS Rubavu II.

After the theatrical performances by the Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle club, the students were asked about teen pregnancy prevention at school, and also had time to ask the presenters questions to gain a better understanding.

Aurelie Nyiransabimana, the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Specialist (Caritas Rwanda / Igire-Gimbuka Program) interacting with students about the teenage pregnancy prevention.

Speaking at the campaign in various schools, Ms. Aline Umutoni, Director General of Family Promotion and Child Protection at MIGEPROF, encouraged girls to take good measures to prevent sexual violence against them, which can lead them to become parents while still children, and ruin their future.

As part of the campaign, the brightest students in the 2022-2023 school year (5 girls and 5 boys per school) were rewarded with notebooks, registers and pens. The girls also received sanitary towels for use during their periods.

Most brilliant students for 2022-2023 school year were given notebooks, registers, pens and sanitary pads for girls.

The figures provided by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, as observed in the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2019-2020 published in March 2022[1], show that teenage pregnancy is at 5.1% among women aged 15-19 countrywide and 4.1% Western province (Rubavu: 5.5%, Karongi: 0.5%, Rutsiro: 2.1% and Nyamasheke: 2.2%).

This campaign was conducted in preparation for the 16 days against Gender-Based Violence, which is scheduled to begin on 25th November and end on 10th December 2023. The national theme for this year is: “#Unite! INVEST to Prevent GBV”.

[1] https://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/1779

November 10, 2023

The “Youth for Youth” Project, which aims to support young people’s economic development through hybrid online and in-person support solutions, was officially launched on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in Gicumbi District. It is implemented at both the national and diocesan levels by Diocesan Caritas in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for Youth (CEPJ), under the coordination of Caritas Rwanda, with funding provided by Catholic Relief Service (CRS).

The Youth for Youth project was officially launched by Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese and Mrs. Parfaite Uwera, the acting Mayor of Gicumbi District at the Byumba Incubation Center for young people released from Prisons. Father Martin Nizigiyimana, the CEPJ secretary, and the priests caring for parish youth attended the event. There were also representatives of the private sector, financial institutions, youth, and executive secretaries of the sectors where the project will be implemented.

Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese and acting Mayor Parfaite Uwera officially launched the Youth for Youth in Gicumbi District.

In his speech, Bishop Papias urged everyone to work together from the start of the project until its completion. He added that it is an opportunity offered to young people, and asked them to take advantage of it. He called on youth having business ideas to submit them to the Youth for Youth Project staff, in order to have them developed into profitable projects.

Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese urged the youth to take advantage of the Youth for Youth Project.

Madame Parfaite Uwera thanked the partners for contributing to the Gicumbi youth’s economic development and promised the partnership so that the project’s objective would be achieved satisfactorily.

Acting Mayor Parfaite Uwera promised the partnership, in order to accomplish the project objectives.

Youth for Youth is a two-year project that is part of a series of projects aimed at youth economic development. This project will replace the “Gera Ku Ntego” Project which is also aimed at economic development through savings and internal lending groups.

On November 1, the Youth for Youth Project was launched in Rusizi District. It is planned that this activity will continue in other Catholic dioceses.

November 8, 2023

With the aim of reviewing the organization’s policies and other documents, 19 Caritas Rwanda employees with different responsibilities met in Musanze district (Fatima Hotel), from October 29 to November 3, 2023. During this workshop, the vice-president of Caritas Rwanda, Bishop Vincent Harolimana, who visited them on November 2, thanked them for the remarkable work they do, and invited them to pay more attention to the poor.

In four work groups, the employees reviewed over twenty documents, including policies and other documents about code of conduct, employee capacity building, procurement, anti-corruption and fraud, conflict resolution, information technology, communication, and other topics.

Every morning, they shared what they discussed in the groups on the privious day.The vice-president of Caritas Rwanda and the Bishop of the Diocese of Ruhengeri, Bishop Vincent Harolimana, paid a visit to the workshop participants toward the end of the day on Thursday, November 2, 2023. He thanked them for their outstanding work but reminded them that their work is not like any other job; rather, it is a shared mission of evangelization with the Catholic Church, which they should do well in order to improve the lives of many people they serve, who need love and support.

Bishop Vincent returned to the conclusions of this year’s synod which was held from October 4 to 29, that redefined the poor as the person who expects love, respect, acceptance and recognition from the Church, and who should receive more consideration. He added that apart from the poor, there are other categories of people who need love, including violence survivors, especially women, victims of human trafficking, the elderly, fetuses, and other people who need more attention. He asked Caritas Rwanda staff to show tenderness for the participants in various programs implemented by Caritas.

Bishop Visenti Harorimana reminded Caritas Rwanda’s staff that the mission they received is unique, a common evangelization mission with Caritas Rwanda.

The Caritas Rwanda’s policies are reviewed every five years. This team revised 15 existing policies, and developed 2 new policies and other documents used by Caritas Rwanda.

October 12, 2023

On Wednesday, 11th October 2023, the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, Father Oscar Kagimbura, visited the Mahama refugee camp located in Kirehe District, to observe the interventions of the Graduation project, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

First of all, Father Oscar Kagimbura paid a courtesy visit to Farhat Jabeen Khan, the head of the UNHCR sub-office in Ngoma district. Their discussions focused on training the beneficiaries of the Graduation project on the skills needed in the labor market or the community-needed businesses so that after the training and receiving the cash grant, they all graduated.

From left to right: Aimable Wilson Mbarimombazi (Mahama refugee camp-site manager / Graduation Project), Jean d’Amour Nsabiyaremye (Graduation Project Coordinator), Farhat Jabeen Khan (head of UNHCR sub-office in Kirehe district), and Father Oscar Kagimbura (Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda).

Father Oscar Kagimbura also visited the Ministry of Emergency Management office in Mahama camp. The camp manager, Vuganeza André, congratulated Caritas Rwanda for improving the lives of the refugees and the host community members and called for the increase in the number of beneficiaries from the camp and host community.

Indeed, among the beneficiaries of the Graduation Project, 70% are refugees from the Mahama and Kiziba camps, while 30% the host community members. Vuganeza André explained that increasing the number of beneficiaries from the host community will help to promote their financial autonomy in parallel with that of refugees.

After listening to the testimonies from the savings and internal lending community group called “Abadahigwa mu iterambere rya Mahama”, Father Oscar Kagimbura asked them to continue to strengthen their unity, and work with the financial institutions for their sustainable economic development. “The financial institution will trust you, based on your unity”, he said. The members of this group requested that other refugees who have not yet benefited from the Graduation Project’s interventions be supported, so that they can find something to do and get out of poverty, as the support especially that becoming increasingly scarce in the camp.

Meeting with Abadahigwa mu iterambere rya Mahama SILC Group.

During this visit, the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, who was accompanied by the Priest of Rusumo Parish, Father Buregeya Félicien, visited some Graduation project beneficiaries who run businesses in the Mahama camp market, as well as pig farmers outside the camp. After talking with them and seeing how they fill out books about their daily business, they ask them to keep working hard for their sustainable development.

October 6, 2023

With the aim of strengthening ECDs, Caritas Rwanda, through the #ECD Project funded by Plan International Rwanda, distributed various materials to 43 home based ECDs (HBECDs) in Gatsibo District. The distribution was held at Kiziguro Parish on October 3, 2023.

The materials provided to HBECDs are in line with the ECD six pillars, Nutrition, Health, WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) services, Parenting Education, School readiness, and Child protection and inclusiveness. Under WASH the materials distributed range from soap, jerrycans (to storing drinking water) and portable sinks known as “kandagirukarabe”.  Under school readiness, some various games and toys to awaken the child’s brain were distributed. The ECD caregivers also received a manual to use in educating and caring for children in ECDs and those modules have topics covering all 6 pillars of ECD.

In addition, the 43 HBECDs received wall sticky papers with letters, numbers, and words in other languages accompanied by pictures, as educational tools to teach children. Under the nutrition pillar, ECDs were provided with porridge flour SOSOMA and sugar as food supplements to promote the health and good nutrition of children under HBECDs.

During the distribution event, the ECD committees were reminded to promote hygiene and sanitation in ECDs, and to use the materials they had received for that purpose.

Addressing the ECD committees, Christine Kayitesi, ECD Project coordinator, emphasized the importance of hygiene in ECDs.

They were also asked to prepare a balanced diet for the children and to encourage their fellow parents to do so in their families. They were advised to use VSLA as a platform to cascade messages to parents.

The materials distributed are worth Rwf 10,203,500. In addition, parents and the caregivers were trained on the six pillars of the child development: nutrition, health, hygiene and sanitation, education, child protection and safeguarding, and brain stimulation of the child.

43 ECDs from Gatsibo district received the materials, which were received by the parent committees.

Early Childhood Development is a Caritas Rwanda project, which cares for the child from conception to 6 years old, intending to awaken his/her brain, preparing him/her for school, providing him/her equitable education, protect him/her against diseases and malnutrition, as well as any kind of violence.

Members of the parents’ committees who received these materials thanked Caritas Rwanda and Plan International Rwanda, Gatsibo Program Unit for their unwavering support, highlighting that they will facilitate the daily activities of the ECDs. They added that the received materials will raise parents’ awareness of the importance of ECD and encourage them to send children to ECD.

Ndagiwenimana Jean Bosco, one of the parents whose house hosts HBECD in the Kabarore sector, said that they received the materials they lacked for the smooth running of ECD activities. “For example, we had a single portable sink at the entrance. You know kids sit on the floor all the time and get their hands dirty. We will place the newly received sink at the toilet entrance. Children will wash their hands after using the toilet and be clean”, he said.

 

September 25, 2023

3,342 households from Ngororero, Burera, Rubavu, Nyabihu, Rutsiro and Karongi districts (Western and Northern Provinces of Rwanda) affected by the floods and landslides of May 2023, have received assistance through EA 17-23/RRF Project. This project was implemented by Caritas Rwanda, in collaboration with local authorities, Caritas Internationalis and diocesan Caritas, with funding granted by Caritas Italiana, Caritas Korea, Caritas Japan, Caritas Slovenia, CRS, Trócaire and other people of good will.

The figures published by the Ministry of Emergency Management on May 13, show that these floods and landslides killed 135 people, left 110 injured and destroyed 5,963 houses. The populations affected by the floods and landslides were immediately evacuated to 83 emergency sites. Caritas Rwanda, in collaboration with diocesan Caritas, approached the affected people to comfort them, and called on everyone to collect funds, needed equipments and food to help them. Below are the donations collected:

Donor

Donations in euros
Diocesan Caritas 250,917
CRS 221,971
TROCAIRE 84,457
Caritas Italiana 30,000
Caritas Rwanda 28,340
Caritas Korea 28,057
Caritas Japan 10,000
Caritas Slovenia 10,000
People with good will 1,133
Total 664.875

 

The donations collected equal to Frw 759,000,000. To provide the assistance, Caritas Rwanda collaborated with diocesan Caritas and local authorities to select the most vulnerable beneficiaries, following the criteria below:

– Households with children under 5 ;

– Households headed by a widows (women);

– Households including elderly people ;

– Household headed by children (orphans at the head of the household) ;

– Households with children suffering from malnutrition or at risk ;

– Households including disabled people;

– Households that have not yet received similar support.

Caritas Kibungo donated food to Caritas Nyundo-Kibuye (Delivery – May 26, 2023).

The 3,342 most vulnerable households received food, clothes, hygiene kits and a cash grant for their recovery and social reintegration after the floods. The transfer of the cash grant was transferred to their mobile phones, where 625 households received Frw 50,000 (each household), while the remaining 2,717 received Frw 92,000 (each household).

Use of the cash grant received

From 16th to 18th August, 2023, a team composed of staff from Caritas Rwanda, Caritas Internationalis, the diocesan Caritas of Ruhengeri and Nyundo (Gisenyi zone and Kibuye zone) and local authorities, visited the populations affected by the May 2023 floods in Burera, Rubavu and Karongi, districts, that received assistance under EA17-2023/RRF Project.

During this visit, the joint team noted that some families used the cash grant to rebuild their houses but with solid foundations as advised by local authorities. Others have invested in small livestock with a view to producing manure and selling the young at the market for economic development, while others have started small income-generating activities.

Bonifride Nayubusa bought a sheep to have manure and lambs. She also bought her son’s school materials with the remaining money.

The joint team encouraged the affected populations to remain strong, and always seek to promote their economic development. As for the families supported, they expressed their gratitude to Caritas at all levels and the local authorities, for the physical and moral support.

Father Oscar Kagimbura, Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, addressing the people affected by the May 2023 floods, in Burera District.

They testified that the support they received from Caritas served as a lesson to them and affirmed that from now on they will help other people in need. “We received love, and we can’t waste this love that our brothers and sisters showed us. We learned the lesson that will help us. Even if we are not rich, we will help other families whose houses are destroyed, once they get permission to rebuild”, said Jean Claude Siborurema, one of the people affected by the floods of May 2023, from Burera district.

September 22, 2023

74 Field Agents from the Burera, Rulindo and Nyabihu districts identified and trained by the USAID-funded Gikuriro Kuri Bose Program (implemented by Caritas Rwanda) were certified as Private Service Providers (PSP) from 12th to 14th September 2023. The skills acquired will enable them to continue extending the economic strengthening services by creating, coaching, and mentoring saving groups in the community.

Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILCs) are a type of community savings group that the GKB program has adopted to strengthen the livelihoods of the people it serves. To mentor SILCs, the Gikuriro Kuri Bose program recruited and trained community-based field agents, whose responsibilities are to promote SILC activities, mentor SILC members, supervise SILCs, and prepare quarterly reports on the groups’ performance over a given period, usually one year corresponding to a savings cycle for the groups they mentor.

Oral exam of Field Agents on 19th July 2023 in Burera District.

To continually build the capacity of field agents, the GKB program holds a monthly review meeting. This meeting shares important information on the economic opportunities, resources, and support available to the community to resolve issues and challenges. To ensure accountability, towards the end of the first year, field agents undergo an assessment of their performance through an individual oral examination by program staff, complemented by an evaluation by the SILC group members they have coached through an organized group discussion.

Certification ceremony of GKB field agents as PSP in Burera District on September 12, 2023.

The process enables field agents who have passed the assessment to become Private Service Providers (PSPs) with the capacity to establish private savings groups on their own, and established private savings groups are required to pay a service fee if they are satisfied with the support provided by PSPs (Private Service Providers).

The certification events of the 74 PSP in the three districts involved the GKB staff and leadership, districts’ officials as well as local leaders.

August 24, 2023

With the aim of promoting assistive delivery, and preventing pregnancy complications and death during delivery, on 22nd August 2023, Caritas Rwanda through the USAID funded program Gikuriro Kuri Bose (GKB), in collaboration with Burera District, awarded mothers of babies under 2, who conducted 4 ANC standard visits while pregnant as required by the Ministry of Health.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Health is encouraging pregnant women to attend the four visits scheduled during the antenatal care period and to follow the advice given to them by healthcare providers, to ensure the good health of both mother and baby.

The rewarding event of the outstanding mothers took place in the Kinoni Sector of Burera District, and was attended by the Mayor of the district Nshimiyimana Jean Baptiste, the Gikuriro Kuri Bose nutrition advisor at the national level, health facilities managers, Community Health Workers, and local communities.

200 mothers of children under the age of 2 who completed 4 standard prenatal visits during their pregnancy received a hen each, to help them feed their children with eggs. 4 Community Health Workers were also rewarded with kitchen utensils for encouraging mothers to complete the 4 standard prenatal care visits.

4 CHW received kitchen utensils as award.

The health centers that distinguished themselves in the promotion of this program, namely Kirambo, Ndongozi, and Kivuye, received appreciation awards.

Kirambo, Ndongozi and Kivuye Health centers managers, receiving the appreciation awards.

A total of 3,490 mothers of children under the age of 2 will be rewarded in all sectors of the Burera district.

August 22, 2023

On 16th August 2023, Caritas Rwanda conducted a field visit to its Gikuriro Kuri Bose Program (GKB) and RRF Project activities in Burera District. The delegation met the district leaders and the populations affected by the 2nd-3rd May 2023 flooding who were assisted by the RRF Project and visited one of the ECDs supported by Gikuriro Kuri Bose.

The activities of GKB Program, implemented by Caritas Rwanda and funded by USAID, include the fight against acute malnutrition. As it was said in the meeting between Caritas Rwanda delegation and Burera District leaders held on 16th August 2023, GKB Program is handling the problem of acute malnutrition among under five children in Burera District. As for the 2019-2020 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, 41% of children under 5 suffer from acute malnourished in Burera.

Mwanangu Theophile, the Vice Mayor of Burera District, in charge of social affairs, said that Caritas Rwanda is a good partner, because their activities are successful.  “GKB came at the time we needed interventions in nutrition because we had a problem of acute malnutrition among children under five. For example, they have brought an unusual new idea to build ECDs with the Chef Village office to supervise it”, says the Vice Mayor. He added that GKB has helped in establishing and maintaining the Village Nutrition School (VNS), and setting up parent’s committees to fight against acute malnutrition. He expressed his wish to see these VNS established in all the villages of the Burera District.

Caritas Rwanda’s team led by Father Oscar Kagimbura, met with the Burera District leaders.

Father Oscar Kagimbura, the General Secretary of Caritas Rwanda expressed his gratitude for the collaboration between Burera District and Caritas Rwanda’s staff in implementing its projects. “Joint efforts produce tangible results”, he said.

After meeting with the Burera District leaders, Caritas Rwanda’s team led by the Secretary General Father Oscar Kagimbura visited a Nurturing Care Hub located in Gatovu Village Rugari Cell, in Rwerere Sector. Father Oscar asked the parents who were present   to continue taking care of this outstanding work they have started, by supporting the caregivers so that they don’t get discouraged. “If you continue like this, this nurturing care hub will grow even more and there will be other development projects in the surrounding areas”, he said.

Caritas Rwanda team visited a Nurturing Care Hub located in Gatovu Village Rugari Cell, in Rwerere Sector.

The Caritas Rwanda team also visited the populations affected by the May 2023 flooding, who received assistance from the Caritas Rwanda RRF Project. They testified on how the support they received helped them to recover, getting food, clothes, essential household items and some of them even bought small animals that will help them develop economically and get manure. Twizerimana Marcelline, one of them, said: “We thank Caritas Rwanda and others who supported us during these hard moments. Today we are happy, now we are no longer suffering from hungry, we have clothes, we have bought things to recover. May God bless them”.

The Caritas Rwanda team visited the populations affected by the May 2023 flooding who received assistance through the EA17-2023/RRF Project.

Blaise Turahirwa, in charge of disaster management in Burera District, reminded the beneficiaries that the cash grant they received was intended to help them rebuild, that they should not be still focus on the consequences of the May disasters, but look for ways to help them progress economically.

2,000 households from Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu Ngororero and Karongi districts were assisted by Caritas Rwanda through the RRF Project. In Burera District, there are 562 families. Each family received a cash grant of 92,000 Frw (for each district).

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