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A Note for New Readers

Urukundo Village is an independent home for Rwandan children created and funded through Hope Made Real and its incredibly kind donors. We are not funded by any particular denomination or organization and welcome all who seek to help the children of Rwanda and create a better world not just for a child, but for us all. 

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Arlene in Rwanda June Newsletter

I would first like to share with you an article that was recently published in Rwanda’s first daily publication The New Times.


by Danila Sabuti, May 10, 2007
Muhanga-Orphans in Kavumu Cell, Muhanga District can see a brighter future after one year of living in care of 76-year old American citizen Arlene Brown.
The children have been living under the care of Urukundo Home For Children (UHFC), which was founded last year in Kavumu cell, by Ms Brown. The celebration of the one year was held 6 May at the Woman’s Centre for Development and attracted various local leaders, and residents. According to Arlene, the dream of helping Rwandan children started ten years ago when she came to the country in 1996. “After my experience in Rwanda ten years ago, it was my dream to come back here and help whatever children God put in my care and now finally my dream has come true.”

After one year, I feel so proud of Rwandan children, and this is not just for today. I look forward to celebrating many more years and helping many more children. My plan is to see that each child under my care, completes their education and goes on to make a living.” David Dushimimana the executive secretary of Nyamabuye, urged residents to be cooperative and contribute to this mission helping Rwandan children.
“It is very important,” he said, to appreciate the efforts of Arlene Brown and this challenges us to help our own children. Personally I find this a challenge to me and all Muhanga residents. We should learn from donor activities.

Celebration Marking One Year
(See Picture #1)Bilese, Divine and Yours Truly were honored when the Mayor and approximately 500 others came to share in Urukundo’s first birthday complete with cake and a candle.


The following will answer a few questions which arose after the publication of last months newsletter: The house that we live in (and one’s like ours) were all built for white people (Musungu’s). They were to be rented to white people who have the finances. Rent is usually pretty cheap with the exception of Kigali City, the business center of Rwanda.
These houses are all mud brick. Some have a cement top-covering. The brick and stone façade makes the front look appealing. The inside walls are a mix of sand and some cement, as are the floors. These are covered in red paint to slow the disintegration process. Most were built or reconstructed after the Genocide by Non- Government Organizations (NGO’s) that had the money. Most reliable structures were destroyed during the genocide. Rwanda is in the process of trying to recover, but it is a long road. Even houses rented to whites are now poorly constructed.
The three structures we rent are owned by the Rwandese Citizens and can be bought for about $30,000 U.S. Dollars. The girl’s home was built by our landlord, a builder before the genocide, and is fairly well constructed. The inside tells the story. Electricity consists of a bulb hanging from the ceiling. The wiring is on the outside portion of the walls, clearly visible, and there is no running water. There is no indoor plumbing and cooking (when there is food to cook) is usually done outside on a charcoal pot. The doors and window frames generally do not fit, and rarely keep out the dust and rain. You mop up water after every rainstorm and clean dust after a dust storm.
But, compare our home of “luxury” with those of the usual Rwandese house. They do not have windows, just openings to let in the light and wood on hinges to keep out some of the rain. The door is an opening with a piece of cloth hanging in it for privacy. Their homes are generally mud with no protection from the elements. Earlier this month Jean Paul's future mother-in-law died after her mud-brick house collapsed in on her. The wind and the rain battered it until it could not remain standing. This happens too often in Rwanda.

A small village viewed from the guesthouse
I sent the pictures so that the Christians in America will see that we are providing our children with better living conditions than the average citizen.

Urukundo (Loves) Home for Children

Newsletter #2 Volume 2 May, 2007

City of Gitarama
Easter week I lay in bed sick. I am well now having recovered from a sinus and ear infection that would not let me walk or breathe well and left me with a cough that will go away in time. Along with nausea caused from the middle-ear infection-- I walked like a drunken woman. I am taking better care of myself now.

Our dream of a guesthouse has become a reality. And it has been more of a success than we anticipated. No, we are not making a fortune but it is paying its own utilities and rent with a little extra to replace money used from the “general undesignated mission fund” for furnishings and start-up costs. It is small with nine rooms. It sleeps eighteen. We have had to turn down larger groups because of space available.

Originally it was conceived as a place where we could welcome visitors traveling to work at the Children’s home and not as a profit-making business. We don’t have room in the children’s’ homes to sleep visitors and I wanted visitors to spend time with us in comfort – or, as comfortable as possible in Rwanda. Living in our home with twelve rambunctious girls is fun but not restful. It then occurred to us that we could rent rooms and provide meals to other visitors coming to Gitarama. Other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) heard about us and called to see if we could pick up the overflow from their houses. We have been delighted. Then the local government officials called to ask if they could hold their meetings at our house. This too was good, as they wanted us to serve breakfast and lunch to their group. “Slowly by slowly” (a Rwandan figure of speech) we are being known and guests continue to come from Belgium, France, England, Canada, USA, Kenya and other areas of Rwanda. In time I pray we will be able to help support the Children’s home from this hospitality venture. “Praise God.”

There have been no more snakes and thanks to the vitamins brought by the team from Central Pennsylvania our girls are in better health. They take one each morning with breakfast. Oh yeah. I take one too as do each of the staff.

Favorite Birthday present
Bilese recently celebrated her fifth birthday. Her best friend Annah, six years old, is in kindergarten thanks to a gift from friends in Wrightsville Pennsylvania. Bilese loves having eleven sisters and looks forward to welcoming twelve new brothers. The home for boys began on May 1. John, our Urukundo administrator, and his wife Hope are serving as house parents. Hope is a cook and also a certified teacher. John will be an important father figure for the boys and as my assistant he helps manage the employees, the homes, and the Guest House. We do not anticipate any other new employees at this time.

Urukundo Home for Children continues to grow. The addition of a house for boys makes us truly a home for children and not just a home for girls. The house we are renting is on the same street as the girl’s home and the guesthouse. We sit in a triangle. Someday this street may all be the Urukundo Christian Home for Children; “The Street of Joy and Love.” Who knows what God has in store? The new house has three large dorm rooms. Each room has space for three bunk beds and a desk for study. There is a large room for eating and group activities. An outside charcoal kitchen, the traditional Rwandan kitchen, will serve up nutritious meals to each boy.

I welcome any donations to help furnish the home for boys. We are excited about this opportunity and already have two orphaned boys waiting to come to us as soon as the rooms are prepared.

Remember to pray for the vulnerable children in Rwanda and through out the world. There are so many. If you would like to be a partner with me in mission I would be happy to welcome you as would my Lord. If you wish to work with one particular project add a note to your letter stating your request.

Letter from Arlene

Urukundo Foundation has been recognized and documentation has been given by Muhanga District South Province, Rwanda, Africa. We are now recognized as a foundation with a board of directors both national and International
Support System: Christians who love God and want to make a difference.

Motto: God in Charge.

Ecumenical Church partners include Lutherans, Catholics, United Methodists, Gospel Churches, and Quaker/Friends, as well as others. Everyone is welcome to be a partner in this mission.

Let me share with you what has happened since April 2006 when I return to Rwanda. I will not go into money details. Terry Masch our auditor has that information and will share it with you if you'd like this informaiton.

Getting Started
A home for girls was established. The house has room for twelve children and a staff of six. It is a large house but everyone does not have a room alone. We currently have eleven girls and are waiting for God to bring us our twelfth. To run the mission with eighteen takes the actual facility, food, clothing, education scholarships for school, medical care, and lots of love and spiritual care.

Urukundo Foundation also helped support a home for boys at Byimana called the Umuryango Home for Boys.
Here is a list of our basic needs and the funding that was used in 2006:
$100 USD per month for food
$ 80 USD per month for transport to Church
$12 USD per month offering for church
$200 USD per month stipend for director of boys
$280 USD scholarships year 2007 (School support also includes uniforms, shoe, book bags, notebooks, pens and pencils, and additional fees.)
$58 USD medical care

$150 USD for 1 cow,
$200 USD seed to plant grass for cows
$200 USD shoes & sheets for beds
$165 USD household items
$1826 water tank, installation & reinstallation

It is not our practice to distribute money to individuals. We check each request before helping and then follow-up afterward to make sure the need has been met. We want God's money to be used wisely. And we work with other organizations to be sure we are not overlapping in services. These include the Mpushi School, Byimana Home for Boys, Byimana HIV/AIDS Center, Ruvumera HIV/AIDS Center, Nyamabuye, Twisungane Genocide Widows Association, Abishyizehanwe Genocide Widows Association, and the Kagugu Widows Goats Project. Our ministry includes: genocide widows and orphans (AVEGA), HIV/AIDS affected families, widows, and orphans, seeds for planting, neighborhood poor children, orphaned teens caring for siblings and families with youths as head of household, and community water projects.

Our aim is to give aid to help individuals and families to become self sufficient. Our projects include 97 goats for breeding, 10 bee hives for honey to sell, one milking cow, seeds for vegetables and for animal feed, school support, food for poor families.

Working Toward the Future
As the mission works to become self-supporting we have started two income-producing projects. One in Kigali and one in .

Kavumu Christian Guest House (In Gitarama)
The Guest House's main purpose is to provide lodging for missionaries who visit from other countries (mainly the U.S.). Other visitors needing a place to rest and be fed are also welcome as space allows. We keep the cost at a minimum for those traveling and stranded because of weather or lack of funds. Urukundo welcomes teams coming from other countries and encourages visitors to visit Kagera National Park, Ruhengeri Gorilla Trek, Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, and the Butare Cultural Museum. The Urukundo Guest House employs four Rwandese who receive National Health Insurance for the employee and their family. Profit from the guesthouse will be used to support the mission.

Urukundo Rental Association. (In Kigali)

The Urukundo Rental Association is a shop that rents tents, chairs, decorations, and music for affairs including weddings, parties and meetings. Profit from the Association will be used to support the mission.

March 2007 Newsletter

There are so many things I want to share and it is hard to decide where to begin.
February’s newsletter told you of changes taking place here. I was concerned forgetting our motto. “GOD IN CHARGE”. The Lord directs and I try to follow. The door has opened to again include the United Methodist Church in Rwanda in this ministry and I am so very pleased. God is Good.

If I were connected to Umuryango Foundation I would not have the freedom to follow my heart and do God's will only. The Lord in his wisdom knew it was time for Urukundo to move away from Umuryango and its restrictions. As we continue in this transition please pray that all decisions will be wise and God directed.

Urukundo Foundation
This document has been presented to the district for approval. Please keep it in your prayers.

Urukundo Home for Children
A Christian Mission
Funded by Christians in America

Founded by Arlene D Brown May 1, 2006
Administered by Kayitare John, Rwandese Citizens
A ministry of service to the people of Rwanda working closely with other children and women’s associations.

Preservation of Rwandan Families
Because we believe that all children should have the opportunity to live in a home where love is felt we work to keep children in their homes with their families. It is not possible to reach every child but we will do our best to provide for as many as God places in our care.

In Urukundo Home for Children we offer our children a family home where love, care, spiritual discipleship and physical needs are provided until each child is mature enough to live independently. Our goal is to equip these precious children with moral standards and life skills enabling them to make a significant and lasting impact on the future of Rwanda and for the kingdom of God. We want each child to become the unique individual God called him or her to be.

Our Belief

We believe in and support public education. Children receiving help from Urukundo Foundation attend a public school near their home. They, in this way, become an integrated part of the community.

We believe that child development is dependent on love, care, and spiritual discipleship. Jesus said in Mark 10, verse 14, “Let the children come to me, don’t stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children”.

This being our motivation, we help the children in our care and community by equipping them with Christian values and love. Those who are able to enroll in formal education are financially and morally supported until they earn a high school diploma. Boys and girls who have learning disabilities are taught life skills such as Automobile Mechanics, Carpentry, Tailoring and Homemaking-- to name a few -- to enable them to get jobs and sustain themselves and their families anywhere in the country. Beyond the technical skills, we hope to reinforce their skills with equipment to work in their trade of choice. Guidance and counseling in administering businesses and financial institutions will be a large factor. We strive to help them develop a hard-working spirit and a love for self and family. For their moral development and fun, we arrange social activities, Bible study and outings.

Urukundo’s service and activities are designed not only for the children who live in our home but children from our neighborhood families who are welcome in our home for fun times with the children; to sing with Urukundo’s children, hear Bible stories, and participate in games and the arts. Our wish is to help all children grow and develop a personal relationship with God in order to live their lives with purpose.

Our Objectives

• To establish a healthy relationship with God and family.
• To provide educational opportunities for children and equip them with moral values to become independent productive citizens.
• To create job opportunities in Rwanda by starting local businesses that will employ local citizens and offer internships to help develop better living conditions for Rwandan families.

Service Descriptions

Our number one concern is the future of Rwanda’s children. Therefore, Urukundo’s service is based on the belief that healthy and educated children are the future of Rwanda. For this reason, we are providing a good home, education, health care, and love to the former street kids, orphans, abandoned children and the poor.


The girls have had a month of croup, Bronchitis and of all things, the measles. These are dangerous ills in Rwanda because of poor health care. Children die from ordinary illnesses. Solange had Measles and Bronchitis complicated by asthma. She was very ill and had to go to the hospital for two days. A very disturbing event was the visit to our compound of a large black mamba snake. Our guard and gardener, François killed the snake and disposed of it.

I also have a lovely story and testimony from an inspiring child to share with you all.

~In church Sunday, February 11 Solange asked if she could testify and thank God for blessing her. What could this child have to say? It was ok and so she spoke to the church. She spoke and I listened.

“I want to thank God for 3 things. First, I thank God for my mama who loves me and because I have a home. Second, I want to thank God because I walked too close to a snake and it did not bite me. Third, I went to the hospital and did not die."

It took me a while to understand what this child had said. I came home from church and asked questions that I should have asked before. God opened my eyes with the words of my child. The snake had come into the drive area of our home while the children were playing. Solange had barely missed stepping on it. It is the most deadly snake in Rwanda and, perhaps all of Africa. The area where the snake appeared has been cleared of all growth that would hide a snake and we watch for any offspring for where there is one large snake there is possible more. I hope it was a bachelor traveling alone but we will not take chances.

The trip to the hospital was traumatic for her and all the girls. I now know that she and they thought she went to the hospital to die. They did not think she would come home again. I understand why she clung to me with tears in her eyes when I left her to come home. What fear my children lived with each time they got sick and the hospital was mentioned. Hospitals are not that scary in the U.S. and I was still thinking U.S. Solange did come home and so that fear has lessened. I need to be more conscious of the everyday things that I take for granted and the children do not.

The boys continue to be in our hearts and part of our ministry. they remain our family in Christ. The van picks them up each Sunday and brings them to visit their sisters at our home and then delivers them to the church. We return them home after services. These babes in Christ need nourishment and fellowship with other Christians. They are learning stewardship and are hearing the word of God.
They continue to work on the fields getting them ready to plant the grass seed purchased by Urukundo. This grass is needed to feed the cows they had and the new one from the Urukundo ministries. It is hard work, but the boys labor in love.

LATEST VISITOR: Cindy Greishaber returned to America and her family. Three days after her departure Lieutenant Colonel Emma Coulson of the United States Army stationed in Afghanistan came to spend ten days in our home. While she was here she traveled with Kevin to visit the Gorillas in Ruhenger.
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