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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 August 2007 Newsletter

Volume #4 July/August Newsletter

Greetings Sisters, Brothers, and Other Partners in mission.
July has been a wonderful month with visitors from Pennsylvania. Our visitors from America included Ms. Marilyn Ely from the Williamsport District of the United Methodist Church and Rev. Sharon Landis from the Altoona District of the UMC. They witnessed the deed signing of the new site of the URUKUNDO HOME FOR CHILDREN, were guests at the Liberation Day Celebration that marks the end of the Genocide, worshipped with Christians of different faiths, and taught and played with the children. Six of our boys and I enjoyed traveling to the Akagere National Park in Rwanda to see Zebra, Topi, Impala, Giraffe, and Cape Buffalo. I had a fight with a baboon and, believe it or not, I won. It was one of those times when you don't know what you are doing until after it is over. Yes, it could have been serious and God is kept busy looking out for me. This baboon left some black and blue marks and a bad memory, but there no permanent harm done.
The purchase of the land is is the newest development in the ministry here in Rwanda. I am praying that those back home will catch the dream and want to be a part of this 'God happening". I thank the couple who gave the money for the land to build. They took a step of faith and believe, with me, that it is "God in Charge". I know this is God’s plan and that God will provide. Yet, there are times when I tremble at the magnitude of the task. It continues to grow in faith and my spirit knows I must not put a limit on the awesome plans of God.
Our next step is to acquire an official Project Permit from the Sector. This requires a general plan for land development. A Rwandese Technician and Architect has measured the land and looked at the vision God has given and is now working out dimensions. Of course, in order not to limit God, we already see that we need more land.
Now, I need your input. Here is the initial basic vision. Our first project: is the chicken house. Sam is a Christian architect and builder who works with various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). He has measured the land and is drafting a proposal for a the hilly section of the property. He will level the land and use the fill to make bricks for the base of the structure. Locals will be employed which will help the economy. We will use Core Stone a local commodity, for the foundation. Other building materials have strange names: lake sand, swamp sand and stone aggregates. The project will also use spades, hoes, wheel barrows, nails and bricks. This equipment can also be used when we build the cottages for the children. After our initial investment the chicken house will be an income source for further construction and maintenance of the Home for Children.
Our second project is the garden. We must clear and terrace the land to prepare it for planting immediately before the rainy season. Seeds can be purchased here, but I would like to try some seeds from the United States. I need some help from farmers back home who will come to my assistance with advise.. and perhaps even seeds. We need to grow vegetables and fruit for our children. We also hope someone will help us to purchase a cow, thus eliminating the need to buy powdered milk for the children.
Our third project are the cottages for children. We will pursue the construction as God provides. Our architect, Immanuel Hitmana, is a Christian and Rwandese. It would be great to find an American architect to come and work with him. Combining American know-how and local wisdom could make it happen. In the meantime we will continue to house the children in the current rental properties that you so graciously provide with your contributions.
Please continue to pray for me and all 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. Gifts can be sent to the mission through:
Spiritworks-Rwanda Fund
823 West Cremona St
Seattle, Washington 98119
Rwanda Support
Saint Johns-Newberry UMC
2101 Newberry Street
Williamsport Pa 17701
If you wish is to work with one particular project add a note to your letter. A memo on your check is not enough. It can be overlooked by the counters.

Support for my personal support can be sent to:
823 West Cremona St.
Seattle, WA 98119
Spiritworks is a non-profit Christian Foundation. Statements, sent on a regular basis, can be used for an exemption on tax returns.
I pray that God will continue to bless you and yours every day walkas you walk with Christ. Shalom, Arlene

Arlene D Brown
BP 179
Founder Urukundo Home for Children
Muhanga District, Rwanda
Cell 08769422

The July 2007 Newsletter

Newsletter #3 Volume #3 June/July 2007

It is unbelievable but true! The number of children in our homes has grown to twenty-eight. We now have fifteen girls and thirteen boys. We have room for two more girls and three more boys. Those places will be filled as soon as God sends children our way. This brings our total, counting the staff and myself, to forty. We make quite a picture walking to church on Sunday morning.

The need to care of one’s own soul became my deep need as this population explosion took place. Living with forty people on a 24/7 basis can be wearing. II realized that I needed more solitude in order to remain healthy and to do the job God means for me to do.

As always God presented me with the perfect solution. A house opposite the girls home became available. When the owner approached me to rent it I was shocked. This small house would give me a quiet space to rest and still allow me to remain close to the children.

I now live in the house. The little ones love it because they can come and have time alone with me. The house has a three-room attached apartment. One room is now a classroom, and the other two rooms house a medical clinic and our staff nurse.

This has been a month with many changes for me and for the Urukundo Foundation. We celebrated National Children's Day in Rwanda. Urukundo was issued a special invitation by the mayor to bring five boys and five girls to the District Office. It was a delightful celebration for John Kevin, Juilette, myself, and Hope who accompanied the children. It was awesome to see hundreds of children dressed out in their school uniforms.

Kevin is now in United States. This is the sad song my children sing. They are happy for him but miss their big brother very much.
Yes, this is the same Kevin who has been with me since the day I arrived in Gitarama. He has been my constant companion as driver, interpreter, bodyguard and all around right-hand man. I consider him a co-founder of Urukundo. Without him I could not have accomplished the things that God has sent me here to do.

Kevin is a very intelligent young man who, with education, can return to be a leader in Rwanda. Praise God, and thanks to several people in America who have come to know him, Kevin has been given the opportunity to attend University in Kentucky. It was hard to let him go but his welfare is what counts and I look forward to the day when he will return to Rwanda to work with Urukundo and me again. Please keep him in prayer as he adjusts to a new culture.

During April we found and rented a house where we could keep orphaned boys. Each time we met people and told them about our home for girls we were asked why there were no boys at Urukundo since it was a home for children. We rented a house close by and the District brought seven boys who were found begging in the streets. Our number is now at fourteen.

Along with the boy’s house we purchased the chicken business that was on the property. As it becomes profitable it will add income to support the education expenses of our children as we prepare to send them to secondary school and later University. The problem is that the chickens live inside the boy’s compound running free and for me this was too close to the boys. (As many of you know I have a weird fear of chickens that I think goes back to my childhood.) I proceeded to fence off an area for the chickens, but that cut down on the boys’ play area. They love kick ball (soccer), basketball and running games and now there was no room. Fourteen active kids need a yard. I tried to think of a solution to grow the poultry business and still have space for the children to play. This was when the thought of owning land. John, our administrator, began to investigate the region for property where we might build a play ground and move the chickens. He located a possibility. The land was owned by the Friends Church in the Muhanga –Gitarama District who had changed their building plans and needed to sell this property.

THE GOOD NEWS is that I have now acquired this land to be given to Urukundo. It is designated as a farm (an acreage to be developed). The land is prime meters (acreage) situated in a developing area where values are going up. Everything about this land is two good to be true—but then, “God is in Charge.” The property line is close to a paved road that leads to Kigali and south to Burundi. And the road far enough away so that the noise of heavy trucks will not bother us. It is close to the water source, phone line, and electricity. This is hard to imagine in Rwanda. There is additional property adjoining ours that could be purchased at a later date. And the Rwanda government is considering giving us the land on our side of the road that is presently government owned. The large gift to purchase this land was made possible from Christian friends of Urukundo.

Now I need a lot of help and am praying for teams to come clear the land and begin construction. We need an architect to design our buildings and help us create a plan for the best use of the land. We need planners, gardeners, construction workers and laborers. There is enough land to build a chicken compound, to cultivate a large garden, construct a play area where the children can play in safety and build a home for our current children and those to come.

I also pray for someone to come and give me a hand managing Urukundo, long-term or short-term. Please pray for this mission and me. I know God will provide a way but just now I need encouragement and affirmation from you

May God continue to bless you and yours in your everyday walk with Christ. Amen and Shalom, Arlene

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.