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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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April 2017 Newsletter

April has begun already. This is the month Urukundo honors those who died in the genocide with the loud cry of: NEVER AGAIN. This is heartfelt in this beautiful land.

The Christian world remembers the death of Christ on the cross and whispers THANK YOU LORD. He is risen our joy should be loud and joyous.

New Newsletter Features:

It is my desire to keep everyone current so here it goes. We will start to include stories about our children. The first one is David, our very first baby.

Telling the Tale

At present Urukundo Home has fifty-two children; we hold as family. Twenty-five are between the ages of sixteen and twenty four. Four of these are gainfully employed and call Urukundo home. Nine of these are in University and eleven attend Secondary School coming home during school breaks. There are twenty-three under the age of twelve. Some of these children have no extended family in Rwanda. Others have dysfunctional families. We are dedicated to not only feeding, housing, and loving these children but also educating and raising them to be happy healthy citizens.

Our Learning Center has 585 students from Preschool to Grade 5. Grade 6 class rooms are ready for 2018 students who will finish Grade 5 in November 2017. Only 23 of the students in Urukundo Learning Center are from our family. The rest, 562, are from the community. Watch for further updates in May newsletter. It is my hope to keep you, our readers better informed. Letting you know what your gifts and donation are doing in Rwanda.

April's Child: David's Story

David was our first baby. When I went into this ministry, I told God I would not take children under seven years of age.  Also I would only take girls. Be very careful what you tell God what you will or will not do. My God has a divine sense of humor. I am sure he laughed and shook his head as he saw my plan & the plan he had for me.

Had the Policeman and Vise Mayor called me on the phone, and by this time we did have cell phones, and ask me to take a baby I would have said “No, we are not equipped to care for babies.”  They were smarter than that.  They came knocking at my door. Opening the door, I was face to face with a very tall policeman and in his arms he held a very tiny baby. Stretching out his arms he handed me the baby saying, “This baby needs a home. Can you help us?” One look at the tiny face and my heart was gone. Thus babies entered Urukundo Home for Children. To date we have had 26 infants become a part of our Urukundo family.

These babies are not throw away babies, they are "thrown to us" babies. They are found in the bushes, in ditches, along paths, in abandoned run down shacks and in the living rooms much to the surprise of the people who live in the house.  David came in as a 3-week-old baby and is now in fourth grade. He is an excellent student. His curiosity about every thing including the Universe is awesome. We are blessed to have David as part of our family.

Until next time I am sincerely and thankfully yours.

Mama Arlene

PS: Feedback would be appreciated as to the value of such a feature, please send that feedback to Arlene@hopemadereal.org

Work in progress: P4, P5 and P6 fence.

Work began on fence April 1, 2017

The fence is to protect the school children from falling over the embankment on to the road below. It's a long drop. The improvement is permanent.

Looking good on April 3rd.


Looking better on April 21.  

Inside view April 21.


Road side view April 21.

We Need Your Help

Still thinking about a gift for the much needed Bus?Actions speak louder than thoughts.” Funding is needed. Our aim is for 16000 USD. We have $6580 USD. Please help us reach our goal.


Friday Mornings

This is a typical Friday morning from 9 to 11 at Mama’s house.  Each morning a different age group comes to play with Mama, Lambert, and Olive.  These children are in the daycare and afternoon Kindergarten class. What fun they are. They spend one hour in Mama’s living room.

One hour doing sports in the front yard.

Oh, to have the energy of these little ones.



So very proud of Deborah. Not only is she beautiful but she is smart academically. Deborah has a goal.

She intends to study law and be the best Rwanda Lawyer.  She will be a credit to our family and her country.


Mama & Baby Outreach Report

Mama brings her 4 month old twin girls to Urukundo Home to say THANK YOU!

Nickese & Nikita

We supplied clothing for 26 newborn babies in April.  Baby below dressed in gifts from you, who help us make a difference. This picture touched my heart.


Building a School

Progress some times hurts.  For you who have been here you know Mama lived in this little house. Now it must make way for new classrooms for the expansion program at the school. I know how important this is but a bit of nostalgia just the same.

Room enough for 3 more classrooms.


House gone and land is ready for developing. When this construction is completed 140 more community children will be able to enroll in URUKUNDO LEARNING CENTER.

Additional Changes and Improvements

Our library is great but the reading and study area were very small.

From the above photos to the new photos below.

Simply removing a wall and adding some paint can make such a difference and it is cost effective.  This is the new study and reading area. Now there is ample space for kids, books, and teachers. The new computer section of the library will soon be on the left wall. 

There is still a space for a smaller study group among the book shelves.


Max Attal from NYC came to visit Urukundo & Mama.  Max is joining Urukundo family. Happy to have him on board as a friend to Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real.

Easter Special


Pastor Leonard from Presbyterian Church and two of his children visited Urukundo during his break from school.  Pastor Leonard has been part of our family since 2006.  We were blessed to have him.


He gave the sermon on Easter Sunday.

Looking forward to what is in store for May. Spring in Pennsylvania is a beautiful time. We will be going into the dry season in Rwanda now. Flowers grow during the dry season but we like the wet because that is when vegetables are planted and harvested.

In closing, I leave you with this thought:

The vulnerable children of Rwanda and the world.

Opportunity is what they need. Your love. Their lives, Our world, You can make a difference.

Your most appreciated gift can be sent to the address below or use the Donate button at the upper right- hand corner of the screen:

Hope Made Real
PO Box 3222
Williamsport, PA. 17701

Much love,

Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real


March 2017 Newsletter

March became a month of activities.

A delegation from Kigali Dental University came this month. The delegation included Home Girl, Valli Meeks from Philadelphia and University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD.   

They brought uniforms for our Dental Therapist to wear saving her personal clothing. Thank you team.


Introducing Lion Sanord

R is pronounced L in Kinyarwanda so Ryan becomes Lion.

Ryan is in Rwanda with Pease Corps and Urukundo is his second project. Reminiscent of when Meredith Lu was with us so very long ago. We are indeed grateful for their becoming a part of our Urukundo family.

Ryan is working with the Music program at the school and also with our kid’s choir for worship.

He tells me our guitar is high quality and he prefers it to his own. WOW! We are so blessed to have received such a gift.


The Falke team arrived and was with us for 21 days. It was an exciting 21 days for the school and for our home children.  Team members this year; Marilyn, Kim, Carol can you find them in the picture?


Helen Kwiskin joined the team for several days near the end of their visit.


They started the visit with our first ever Pajama Party

Truly they brought Pajamas for all the kids even the big adult kids and the response from our children was awesome. Thank you all who contributed to the PJ Funding Project.

Have you ever seen such a sight?


The gift of pajamas came with our visitors from the USA. All the children put on their new pajamas and came to Mama’s house for devotions.  They were so very happy. What a wonderful gift and so appreciated by the children, Mamas, and me.


During the singing at the PJ devotions.  Kavine presents her baby doll while we sang, "He holds the Itty Bitty baby in his hands” You know the song and it is loved by the children. HE HOLDS THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS.

Teacher Kim taught devotions that evening from the book of the same name.

We had the best PJ PARTY EVER. 


Science projects at the home especially about space, stretch the mind.  Making Rockets with teacher, Kim.


Preparing to Rocket to the moon. What fun making your very own rocket.

Ready for blast off.


To the moon.

In flight


ICDL Project News

ICDL Proctor Viateur is officially certified to teach ICDL Computer training for businesses. The first class has been initiated at Urukundo Village. This class is open to the public and to businesses that need their employees better able to use computers more efficiently.


Olivier, our fental therapist and Théogen, our head teacher for Preschool, were two learning the new skills. 


Adaline, school office secretary; I'rene, head master; I’rene, librarian; Julliette, human resources; Eric, staff secretary and; Jean Marie, executive director were all benefiting from this resource as well.


Computers for this class were donated by Forest Hills Rotary and the first 10 students from our staff were sponsored by Waverly Presbyterians in Pittsburgh. Coordinator for the project is Bob Dove also from Rotary and Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. Thank you all for making this possible

Recent High School graduate Pacifique (Dada) received her gift bible for a job well done.

Prince receives a special gift from his Education Sponsor


Kaboss when he came to our family and Kaboss now. My how he has grown.


Jacob and Livine on the winning team. Jacobs first foote Ball (soccer) game. 4 years old and already a winner. Sister Livine is proud & happy.


Soso the first grader. Ready and raring to go.

Mama & Baby House 

Special prayers for this 1 day old little one who came to Mama and Baby mission outreach.  She weighted 1 Kilo or 2 lbs and is in serious condition. Her mama brought her to Urukundo. She is so tiny.  She will return to the hospital for further care. We hope to have an update when more is known.


Marilyn Ely, Mama & Baby gift bearer, visited the Birthing Center working with Urukundo and holds a precious new born

One of 28 babies born in March.

Special Day

Last but at the very top of our lists of events.

On March 30, 2017,  Jean Marie Ntwire officially received his Bachelors Degree in Business Management and Auditing.  There were over 300 in the graduating classes at the graduation ceremony. Health & Nutrition, Computer science, Business Management, Finance & Auditing, Sociology and I am sure there ae a few I don’t remember. The weather did not cooperate as it rained hard for the first 2 hours delaying the 8:30 am start. Well what can you expect it is the rainy season after all?  After that it tried to clear up with only a slight drizzle from time to time.

Picture taking was difficult.

This degree is one more step to a successful future for him and Urukundo Home & Learning Center.  Congratulations Jean Marie. How proud we were to share this day with him!


Oswald from our UF board, his wife Larissa and older brother J M Uwamahoro, his daughter Lana Arlene  & I were in cheering section.


Departure day for Carol, Kim & Helen. Marilyn left a bit earlier

Leaving is never easy. It has been a wonderful learning and fun filled 21 days.

The kids are looking forward to next year when the Falke team will return. I am sure it will have new member along with the team alumni. 

In closing, I leave you with this thought:

The vulnerable children of Rwanda and the world.

Opportunity is what they need. Your love. Their lives, Our world, You can make a difference.

Your most appreciated gift can be sent to the address below or use the Donate button at the upper right-hand corner of the screen:

Hope Made Real
PO Box 3222
Williamsport, PA. 17701

Much love,

Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.


February 2017 Newsletter

February is a mix bag.  The first 14 days in the USA was spent seeing doctors, family, and friends.

A special treat was seeing my Rwandan daughter, Lilliane & my friend, Larry while I was in Williamsport during my recovery time.  It was great to hold Lilliane in my arms. Hugs are so great.


My last week in Pittsburgh, mother nature gave me a real show. Snow, Snow, Snow!


Beautiful but cold!

Home Sweet Home

The last days of February were spent in Rwanda at Urukundo Village with my kids.  What a joyful reunion!  Group Hug! In case you don’t know, I‘m the one with the white hair.


Posters welcoming me home.


Paint by Sticker.  The kids created these lovely posters with this Magical Art Form. They really are lovely.


Special event

Graduation day for Serephine.

Serephine graduated from Esther’s Aide School of Culinary Arts.


Please be sure to visit Esther’s Aid Rwanda website and watch the short video clip below. 



Secondary school graduates in 2016

During worship, we acknowledged the achievement of our graduates. That means they passed the National Exam. This is one tough exam. Believe me, I could not pass it.

Cecelia, Dada, Serephine, Emanuel are our most recent graduates.  Congratulations to all. Thank you sponsors! Without you this could not have happened.




Our volunteer from Boston, originally from Jersey Shore, PA, Tshana Jamara is carrying on a family tradition. Tshana is the granddaughter of John and Sally Guiswite. John and Sally were at Urukundo and physically helped build the boy’s & girl’s homes. Now Tshana’s dad and Mom need to pay us a visit to make it a true 3 generations thing. How about it Mike and Shelly?

Precious photo filled with love. Come back soon Tshana!

Visitors from Canada

Dr. Troy, son Kyle, wife Charmaine Michelson and Kyle’s friend Teigan Simpson traveled from Canada to volunteer at Urukundo.

Dr. Troy and Charmaine worked in the dental clinic.  79 Patients were seen & treated in 3 days. Thank you Dr. Troy & Charmaine!  The boys volunteered at the school. We so appreciated their time with us.

They congratulated Serephine and had a photo taken with her.

Teigan and Kyle posed with Mama. Thanks guys.

Tom Sorenson, Dentist & Christa Mather, Dental Hygienist. Their visit was only 3 hours. Although short it was a good visit to meet them and show them our clinic. 




This one is for sale.

Never thought Urukundo school would have this need. Imagine Urukundo Learning Center needs a bus to transport kids safely to and from school and to sport competitions.  Our little school has grown and continues to grow. The bus available to purchase in Rwanda is pictured above. Cost $15,000 USD. Need a school or mission project? JUST WANT TO DO Something TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Please consider donating to this special need. The need is urgent for the safety of the children coming to our school.

Ellen Galloway

Jason and Janette have an escort to keep them safe walking to school.

Ellen is a long time friend of Urukundo. Her's was the first stone on the “Path to Learning”.  She is also editor for the book Mama and her daughter Patricia are collaborating on.  She is editing “Mama’s Memoirs” and “Moments with Mama” more about the books later.

Adventures in mission

Dakota’s team

Visitors in February include these young women.  Shavon, Dakota, Casy from the USA. Mhain from Scotland. Meladie from France. The girls spent 9 days with the children, working at the school and farm. Three of the girls learned how to milk a cow.  Their comment  “Not easy”

Girls walking the kids to school. This is a daily delightful part of being at Urukundo Village. 

Mama & Baby house

Thank you everyone who answered my appeal for newborn clothing for our infants. The supply was completely gone.  Now we can again give the gift of love to welcome our newborn infants.

While giving to the newborns, we also send gifts to the older children in the family. This is an amazing mission outreach.

Rwanda Wedding

One of our farm cowboys, Gilbert married on Feb 25, 2017. It was a real Rwanda wedding with bad roads lovely country and a very long walk. No, I did not go. Many of the younger staff represented me. I thank them.

The very long walk. Car could not get to the site of the celebration so I could not go.

Beautiful bride and groom.

Urukundo Staff presenting gifts to Gilbert and his bride.

The staff honoring their brother in Urukundo Family

Good News of important progress for education.

Pastor Leonard from Impushi Presbyterian Church is a family man and a student aiming for higher education. He has his first very own computer. It will help him do his documents required for school.

He was able to get the computer on credit through a project by the government to help and encourage more older and younger students to go further in education. Leonard will pay for the computer after graduation. Much like student loans in the USA. Leonard has been part of the Urukundo Family a very long time.

He was our very first Rwandan volunteer. Some may remember when Urukundo gave goats to the older women in the congregation.

His daughter was one of the first students at Urukundo Learning center. Leonard is much loved at Urukundo Home for Children.

I was delighted when he came to Urukundo Village to share with me his joy about the computer. He is a good friend.

Worship at Urukundo this morning Feb. 26 was awesome.

We had visitors from USA, Germany, Scotland, France and Peace Corps. We were so blessed.

Lyle the young man in the group is here with Peace Corp serving in another area and came to introduce himself to Urukundo.  He intends to come often and what a blessing “He plays the guitar and is willing to teach our kids. We need Instrumental teachers. We have the instruments but not the teachers.

Angelique Westmark is back. This is her second visit. Many of you will remember Lennart, her guitar and singing son. This time Lennart could not come so Mama Angelique came alone.

Divine is serving as her driver. Yes, Divine has worked hard and has her license to drive. Awesome!

Small photo shoot to end the newsletter for this month.

Benita is all smiles. She has a watch. Pretend one.

David getting tall.

Jennett #1 drummer


January 2017 Newsletter

January newsletter will be a bit different.  Missing my Urukundo kids so very much.

To keep you all current. I am in Pittsburgh, USA.  Thanks to Dr. Tomy in Kigali and his concern, I came to the USA to find out why my legs were swelling. The doctors here diagnosed blood clots in both legs.  That means a heavy dose of blood thinners for 21 days and then a lesser dose for a year.


Looking good. My hospital stay was short. I am now home with Patricia. We found the problem and treatment was started in time. There is so much work yet to do.

View from my bedroom window in USA. Cold is not my favorite thing.


This mama is a bit homesick so I requested photos of the kids.  Next morning the children sent a group picture to mama so she would not miss them so much.

I am sharing them with all of you.


January 1, 2017, found the children in devotions.  Luki was the teacher on this special day.  Big brother Olivier led the children in prayer.


Playing marbles on the porch.


Water colors are such fun and messy.


Kids received a second construction set with balls and rods. Now we have a set in Mama’s house and in the boys play room of the boy's house.


They are such fun.

Janette, Jacob & Jason


This baby’s mama brought the little one to visit. This was delightful. Only one problem. Mister Soso refused to give the baby back to the mother. He felt the infant needed to live with us. He is a very cute baby and we would love him but he needs to live with his mama.


It does help to know things go on as usual even if I am not there.  Tuesday and Thursday is the day the younger children play in Mama’s living room.  They all have favorite toys, puzzles and books that wait for them to come.

Lunch is over and even the smallest help do the dishes and clean up. Janette is starting early.


Project For 2017

Increasing our capacity to accept more preschoolers means construction of two more classrooms on the top level.


Faith is the driving factor for Urukundo Village. The need is so great and the preschoolers so many. 

Please consider helping. We need funding to complete these two classrooms to make space in our preschool to accept more needy children and guarantee education for vulnerable children in our community.


David teaches lesson at evening devotions.  These kids are awesome. Diescor, Lambert, and Auntie Betty are helping out.

Posing for a picture to send Mama


Claude in the school uniform, 


Janette and Jason are now students at Urukundo Learning Center.

These two three year olds are so happy. Now they can walk with the big kids and stay at school. They have also moved from the nursery to the big houses. This is much like a graduation.  Only big kids live in the Girls house and Boys house. They are now big kids.

Preschool bunch. First day of school 2017  Awesome kids.


The Farm growing

Newborn piglets on the farm while I am away.  Things continue change even when I am not there.


Mama & Baby House

Some of the newborns born in January.  As I mentioned before nothing stops because I am away.


Visitors in January

Urukundo Home and Learning Center was honored by a visit from the Honorables of Rwanda Parliament.  They toured the campus, visited with the kids and I am told their report on Urukundo will be very favorable.

We thank them for coming!


Honoring Tom Nunnally


While in Pittsburgh, Forest Hills Rotary invited me to speak at a dinner honoring Tom Nunnally.  I was so pleased to be there for this event. Tom is missed by so many including Urukundo Kids.

Waverly Presbyterian team

Team members and spouses treated Mama to a evening of remembering Urukundo and exchanging memories of their visit to Urukundo in September 2016. It was a fun evening with lots of good fellowship and very good food.


Bob and Amy Dove picked me up for worship at Waverly the following Sunday and Waverly served a Pecan tort at coffee hour. It actually has “Welcome Mama Arlene” written on it. The cake was very good but the icing covered with pecans was delicious.


What's Next?

February is about to begin and then only 16 days and I will be home in Rwanda. I am looking forward to the warm weather. I love my family here in the US but in January it is too cold.

I love my Urukundo family and the weather is great.

I keep saying “I will not come to the US in winter” and every time I say I won’t it just happens so I am not saying that this time.  God in Charge

Devotions at Urukundo

If you can open this video it is worth the listen.


In closing, I leave you with this thought:

The vulnerable children of Rwanda and the world.

Opportunity is what they need. Your love. Their lives, Our world, You can make a difference.

Your most appreciated gift can be sent to the address below or use the Donate button at the upper right-hand corner of the screen:

Hope Made Real
PO Box 3222
Williamsport, PA. 17701

Much love,

Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.


Happy Birthday Mama & December Newsletter

December is always a special month. The activity at Urukundo is topped off in joy because all the kids come home to spend some time with the Urukundo family.

Except for our 5 in the USA; our kids were all home. We do miss them. But know they are where they are meant to be.

The month ended with Mama in the USA. What a blessing to spend time with both my families during my birthday month!

Here is a taste of life at Urukundo Home in December.

December 9th, Mama’s birthday celebration

Urukundo little kids singing Happy Birthday to Mama.

Food, Fanta, and cake makes birthdays special.

Dec 10th,  JP leaves for education in the USA

John Paul, far right, saying so long for a while.  We will miss you, JP and love you so much. Do your best and come back home.

Love, Urukundo kids, staff and Mama.

Katrina sharing

So much love shared between Claudine Katrina & Rebekah.

Katrina, Me in my birthday dress and Joe. I think I am thinning down just a bit. No girlish figure yet.

Claudine made a new friend. Joe who came to travel with John Paul to the US was a favorite with all the kids.


Signs of our times. Dental is OFFICIAL!

Mama was blessed this month by a visit from her cousin Raymond Stiner. Raymond was in Rwanda for a short time. I am so grateful he found a time in his busy schedule to visit Urukundo. Raymond is very special because he is the grandson of my mother’s brother. Uncle George was very important in my childhood.

Prince, Luki & Soso.  Look at the sports; basketball, karate, and soccer.  The medal on Prince is for soccer. We are an active group.

Wish you could hear the voices as the children sing.

Christmas Urukundo on Dec 22.

Staff Celebration Office Staff

158 staff and kids celebrated the day.

Community Day.

We were blessed to share the day and it’s blessings with near 500 children and youth. What a glorious day!

Gifts for boys

Gifts for girls

December 25th, Christmas Presentation

Anitha, our Nursing student wrote and directed the program.  

Christmas for Urukundo kids.

Thanks to so many of you our kids had a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Tree in boys house. Gifts for all!

Jean Marie’s daughter, Lana Arlene, was a special Christmas guest.

Graduation for Sewing Center

Jean Marie cut the ribbon as Exec Director of Urukundo Foundation.

The walk from the school to graduation ceremony.

Graduating class

Salute from a proud Mama to the class of 2016.

Sewing Machine given to Top Student to honor our patron, Tom Nunnally

The Sewing Center was Tom’s vision and he not only purchased machines but gave scholarships to help students to achieve their goals.

Tom is missed by all at Urukundo.  His legacy will live on.

Diploma in hand.

Mama & Baby Project

Four of our 28 December babies. It is very cold.  We have a need for more hats; larger and infants sizes.  Thank you.

Claudine & Joe and Sam share smiles of joy.


The Kent family chose to spend Christmas with Urukundo and our kids.

African Nativities are a work of art and heart.

We do hope the come visit again. Thank you Kent Family for making our Christmas special.

New visitors are always welcome and loved and become part of the Urukundo Family. Then there are those who are family and return year after year. Liz James is one of those. Each time Liz comes she brings another member of her family.  Husband Rob, sons Keenen & Skyler and beautiful daughter Bella have come but at different times. We look forward to a return visit from all. Liz and her family are also supportive of our brother, Tresor in Arizona. The James family lives in California. Tresor is house & dog sitting while the family is away. Thanks a bunch!

Liz and Skyler check out the shirt the kids gave him for Christmas & The Nativity Liz received.


Learning Pathway

Memorial stone added to the path. 

Other News

Last but not least. Mama's leaving for a time of refreshing, healing and loving family in America.


In closing, I leave you with this thought:

The vulnerable children of Rwanda and the world.

Opportunity is what they need. Your love. Their lives, Our world, You can make a difference.

Your most appreciated gift can be sent to the address below or use the Donate button at the upper right-hand corner of the screen:

Hope Made Real
PO Box 3222
Williamsport, PA. 17701

Much love,

Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.