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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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June 2016 Newsletter

Newsletter for June

June is the anniversary month celebration for ten years, Finally after 10 years signs of our times are here. Tooting our own horn.


Sign going North toward Kigali

Sign going toward Gitrama.

At the back entrance to the Village Opposite the school wall

On school wall.

New Outhouse to feed human waste into the Bio-Gas system. Animal waste is already in the system. Amazing how what "goes around comes around."

Congratulations to our first ever Medical Students

Diescor’s goal has always been to be a doctor. The first step in reaching that goal took place June 15 when he was accepted as a student at Gitwe school of Medicine. I need your help. Can you commit to an amount annually to see this young man achieve his goal. A small amount or a large amount would be appreciated. Doctors and friends please sign on as support for Diescor. Contact me with any questions or detail’s needed for you to help: arlene@hopemadereal.org

Nurse to be: Anitha

Anitha has a dream and help is needed in funding for her to attend Gitwe School of nursing. She has been accepted for the September term. To my nursing friends and others, help is needed with funding. Make Anitha’s hope a true: HOPE MADE REAL


The children helped open the gifts received during the 10 Year celebration. The were delighted with the Giraffe and thought the material was nice but the biggest hit was the box of chocolates. That treat was shared by all. The giraffe now sits on the mantle in my setting room where the children and visitors can enjoy it. This precious gift came from the teaching staff at the school.

This beautiful full piece of material was a gift given to me by The Urukundo Board of Directors

The chocolates from this lovely friend

Mama and Baby House

My daughter, Jacque, visited mama and baby and the birthing center providing clothes for the newborns.

This little boy (newborn) came with his mom to the Mama & Baby house on June 23. What joy knowing we are making a difference.


Saying goodbye to my daughter Jacque and Hello to our very first volunteer Denice who came in 2006. Sadness and joy mixed.

After a too short visit Danice Brown (no relation just loved) departed for the airport and a continuation of her journey

Meredith’s time to say farewell.

Nursery gang in full force.

No one wanted to see her go.

Big Talia visits little Talia and her Rwanda family.

Now it is Talia’s turn to say goodbye. This is the hard part. Safe journey Talia. One more visitor to go and Lennart goes home to Germany on Monday.

What joy! After two years, Kaboss and Vincent were reunited. The surprise visit was a joy for all Urukundo especially Lennart. Vincent and Lennart volunteered at the same time two years ago and became good friends.

Lennart saying good bye to Livina and the kids. His guitar and songs have been such a blessing during the month he shared love with the children. Thank you Lennart!

Pathway of Learning

A new stone on the Path in loving memory.

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.


10 Year Anniversary

Ten years ago it was just a tiny seed.

With a lot of tender loving care from so many, it began to sprout, and the growth has been awesome.  God in Charge.

A wonderful tribute event to 10 years of love shared with you in the following pictures.  

In the wee hours of the night, tents and chairs appeared on the football field.  Workers were preparing for the 500 or more guests expected to attend. Now I thought that was expecting a lot but by the time the event started every chair was filled and more benches were needed. What a recognition to Urukundo Foundation and Hope Made Real with this expected turnout.

Tents lined the entire field and were full with welcomed guests!

The children had their own tent. What a beautiful sight.

Our international Guests- Louise Midland from UK, Meredith Lu from USA, Lennart Westmark from Germany,  and Talia Sainclair from USA. These international guest represented our Volunteer Alumni.

Guest Bruce Krogh, Carnagie Mellon. 

It was wonderful to have a board member from Hope Made Real present at our celebration, secretary Margie Krogh was a delight.

Karate Demonstration

Master William and his Urukundo Karate kids demonstrated their talents.

My University Girls

Divine, Anett, Esperance, and Jolly Divine

My University Boys

John Paul, Diescor, and Alexander


My youngest Jacque traveled from Pennsylvania to Rwanda to be with me during this special event.  Having one of my children from USA travel and attend the celebration was such a pleasure.

We were honored by Exec Secretary of the District, Celse Gasana, and a representative of the National Commission of Children, Eugenie.  We so appreciate their presence.

Claire Effiong from Esthers Aide and her colleague sit with our Headmaster Irene.


John Paul & Diescor with the older children choir sing for our guest

The choirs combined to sing a song together.  It was heavenly music.

Touring Urukundo

Jean Marie conducts a tour for our guests

Viewing the Path to Learning Stones placed with LOVE by many of you.

Gifts were given to Urukundo’s Founder/Director.

Urukundo Board made Mama burst into pure joy close to tears.

Jean Marie, Oswald, Felix, Felicitie, and Hildebrand.

A dear friend Grace also presented a lovely gift. All Chocolates. Wow!!!

A speech was presented by the older children thanking Urukundo for loving them.

A poem was written as a tribute to Mama by the teachers. It made me cry.


Staff and our children enjoyed the day.

Mama walked across the field, Joyce and Jacob came to greet her and be her escort. It was such fun.

Betty Mama boys house, Chantel Mama at Nursery, Rahab manager of childrens shop at sewing center. All had a job to do during the celebration and did it well.


Big brother, Etienne, come home to be with the kids this special day. We love parties especially when the big kids come home.

Of course, Mama had to make a speech as well. You will find it at the bottom of this Special 10 Year Anniversary post. It is a summary of events and the goals for the next 5 years at Urukundo Home and Learning Center.

A few words were presented by Eugenie whose heart is also with the children of Rwanda.

Our guest of honor, Exec. Director of Muhanga District, Gasana Celse closed the program with encouraging words for Urukundo and the work being done.

No party is complete with without food and drink. There was plenty for all

So ends a beautiful day.

Our banner flies high and we view it with proud and joy.


Welcome honored guest and friends to Urukundo’s celebration of sharing love for 10 years with our neighbors in Muhanga District.

I would like to tell you briefly how and where Urukundo started, how it has grown in the 10 years and the vision for the next 5 years.

In 2006, Urukundo actually began as a home for girls. A house was rented in Kibirigi and at that time there was only one mama, one girl (this one) and one guard.  By the beginning of 2007, the local Mudugudu approached Urukundo about a need for a home for 6 young boys. A second home was then rented to accommodate the street boys. Those 6 boys are now young men and remain a part of our family.

By the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, we had purchased land in Binunga Village, Cyeza Sector for our chickens and since we already owned the land and the children needed a better place to call home.  We decided to start by building a new home for the boys on the land and then one for the girls to permanently give them a more safe and stable environment to grow up in. That was when Cyeza sector became Urukundo’s permanent home. The Urukundo family continued to grow.  As the family grew we slowly purchased more hectors to help with the much needed expansion to add a farm with chickens, cows, pigs, rabbits, goats, and a vegetable garden. By doing so we feed the children with the produce from the farm.

2010 was a very important year for us. We started using manure to produce biogas to cook with and it also helped in the conservation of wood. The other major event in our 2010 history was when the Rwanda government recognized the Urukundo foundation officially.

In 2011 thanks to cooperation between F X B and Urukundo Foundation a free water system was built with the help of the Binunga community. Bringing the water up the mountain and nearer the road was a blessing for many. Through the combined efforts trenches were dug and pipes were laid.  As electricity was not accessible solar pumps were installed to pump the water from the bottom of the mountain to the reservoir at the top. We give special thanks to Rotary International for funding these Solar Pumps and Rotary Vuringa/ Kigali for being our sponsor here in Rwanda.

In 2012 a formal dedication was held and we were honored by having the governor of South Province and the Mayor of Muhanga at the dedication of the new water system.

In May of 2011, the Urukundo Learning Center had its start by opening the Cyakabiri preschool.  Thanks to the district of Muhanga. It was wonderful to be able to open its doors for the young children. Since then, each year another grade level had opened. 

We are now in the process of building Primary 5 and 6 and should be complete and opened by January of 2017.

With an MOU connecting Urukundo with the National Rwanda University School of Dentistry, a dental clinic was established here on Urukundo and we are waiting for the acceptance from the ministry of health for the official opening.

Since 2009, we have provided a home for 54 children.  Of these 54 children; 23 are all under 10 years of age, and now live in the Urukundo home for children. The remaining 31 are cared for by their Rwandan families and their education and additional expenses are covered by Urukundo Foundation.

Seven members are going to universities. Four are studying at universities in Rwanda and three are studying in Universities in America.

I must also note that we have two others who are waiting to be accepted into the field of medicine at a university. The remaining are in Secondary school or have found Jobs and are becoming responsible citizens.

I am also pleased to say that Urukundo employs 69 Rwandan citizens.  This helps make the Urukundo family feel even more complete.

Education being our priority we also encourage our employees to seek further education. To date with help from Urukundo 8 employees have attended and graduated universities. Six with bachelor degrees and 2 with master degrees.  At present two of our staff are finishing at the University this December with bachelor’s degrees.

And now our next 5 years vision has already started.

In July, which is just next month, solar electricity will be added to both the boys’ home and the girl’s home.

I am also pleased to announce that as of last week Urukundo was able to purchase the property next to the Primary 6 classrooms. With our vision of a secondary school the land acquired will complete the acreage needed to build a secondary school. In 2017, we will petition the Muhanga District for permission to construct & equip a Secondary School.  The vision doesn’t stop just gets better.

This secondary school will let our community children live at home with family and attend secondary school reducing the cost of higher education.

Low and no income families will also have the opportunity to send their children to secondary school and have them live at home.

In our long-term plan, a technical University is also part of our vision. Creating a learning facility for much needed skills as plumbing, electricity, masonry, automotive, culinary and the list goes on.

We are in the process of acquiring funding for that technical University. This would require the district to help us obtain the land where we can extend our school. The technical school is needed and would be an asset to Cyeza sector and Muhanga District.

Moving into the age of technology Urukundo has established a computer lab and are working and will be ICDL certified this month.  This program is to certify business men & women in the use of the computer to make their business more efficient.

Thank You


Congratulations Diescor!!

When I thought it could not get better. IT DID!

On the very day of our celebration Diescor (The taller of the boys in this picture) received notification of his acceptance into GITWE HOSPITAL SCHOOL OF MEDICINE.   He will start this journey in his life in September.

Hoping some of our doctor friends and others will come on board encouraging this special young man and to see him through his years building his future and the future of Urukundo.

John Paul and I are so very proud to make this announcement.


May 2016 Newsletter

The month of May has been a month of disasters and good events in Muhanga town and Urukundo village. In a land where water is so critical you would not expect too much rain to be a problem. Rain which is so precious here is a blessing when it comes slowly but with the force of the water from the tops of the mountains with no channel to divert the water whole villages are destroyed. Praise God Urukundo is safe. Retaining walls you helped us build have made a difference for us. Small homes have no retaining walls so are at the mercy of the weather.

Two weeks after flood and mud slides no houses in views.

Hard to believe.

Oswald’s home is in direct line for the next heavy rain. His walls are already broken and the foundation is weak. The government has declared the area of his home not safe. The homeowners must move out. Many neighbors have already gone.

Many of his neighbors have lost their homes. His is really too dangerous to live in but his family has no place to go. To know your house will be washed away with mud and water the next rainstorm is frightening. There is no warning. The storm and water come from the top of the mountain rushing down destroying every thing in it path.

In our area alone 9 people died and 73 homes were totally destroyed along with everything in the home. Families are in need. Urukundo received an appeal from the District to help care for the needs of these families.

Food and clothing are needed. Helping our neighbors is critical.

We responded as best we could.

Our donation:

  • A bin of adult cloths and blankets
  • A bin of children’s cloths
  • 3 Jerry cans of cooking OIL
  • Vegetables will be added when collection truck comes to pick up

Because you care we can share. Thank you.

Mama and Baby

What an amazing ministry the Mama and Baby program has become. We never know what direction the Lord may take us until it happens. Not only are we able to help mamas and babies but also we are reaching the siblings of families who are in need in our community after mama has given birth.

Mamas are as concerned for the other children at home as they are for themselves and the newborn. I thank God for the supply of clothing coming to Urukundo because you care. We are able to care for our own and do an outreach.

It is not possible to put pictures of all the babies and Mamas in the newsletter. We will keep you updated as to the number of Mamas we care for each month.  This little one is number 15 for the month of May.


Winning School team and coach John Paul. It is great when our own can come back as teachers. JP has been with us since 2008. First as part of our family and then big brother to the younger kids and now as our Physical Education teacher at Urukundo Learning Center. We are proud of him and his accomplishments.


Old ceiling in the kitchen

Smoke and poor ventilation in the kitchen makes the ceiling black and slowly destroys the panels. A gift of panels from Aziza Life and our good friend Tom McGregor enabled us to remove the old ceiling and replace it. Now our challenge is to find an exhaust fan in Kigali city, build a hood for over the cooking area and have ventilation that removes the smoke. It will be beneficial not only for the building it’s self but for the workers in our kitchen. Smoke is dangerous. We need a safer environment for our workers.

Ceiling looking good.

Bill, our visitor & Benji, our maintenance person are collaborating to construct a hood to channel the smoke out a ventilator hole.

Special Gifts from Special Children

Good friends, Natalie and Nikolas Aucoin gave up birthday gifts to give the Urukundo Kids a very special treat.

Yogurt is a favorite and having a yogurt party in mama’s house was the best gift ever.


This party was a surprise and enjoyed by all the children.

Sewing Center

The sewing center received a suitcase full of much needed materials. We are so grateful for these donations. The team from Waverly Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa, USA were kind enough to bring 8 suitcases with needed supplies to Urukundo village. In these suitcases were School supplies, Sewing supplies, New born items and special dresses for little girls. How blessed we are. Thank you everyone who helped Mama Arlene, Carol and the team from Pittsburgh collect and deliver all to Urukundo in Rwanda.

Amy Dove had the honor of delivering the gifts to the sewing Center

To show her appreciation for the delivery Teresa the manager and head teacher at the Sewing Center gave Amy a lesson on the sweater knitting machine.

Amy assures us it is not as easy as it looks.

Great looking, hard working team.


The 10 person team from Waverly Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh were such a welcome team. All but one (Bill) worked at the school, Bill worked with Benjiman, our handy man in painting, repair, and construction. Bob the team leader and Ellen set up the ICDL computer lab which will have a big impact on the future of our school and the community. Virginia, Amy, Ellen, Tawna unpacked suitcases and sorted clothes for better accessibility.  Our store looks so organized. Thank you ladies.

Jim, John & Eleanor were into sports particularly baseball.

Hey, they are from Pittsburgh and the Pirates are Mama’s favorite team! Greatest sport ever especially when you know Mama is from Williamsport, PA THE HOME OF LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL.

Dr. Mary helped out with baseball, visited the local birthing place and spent precious time with Diescor our aspiring Doctor in the medical clinic. What encouragement she gave this young man in his career choice.


Anitha competing with many others in the local running competition in Muhanga District came in #1 and was given a slot to run in the International Marathon in Kigali City. With 100 others running Anitha came in #6. Great job Anitha.  Our Urukundo family is proud of you.

You are invited

15 days left to meet the challenge.

In case, you meant to accept and help match the $10,000 donation TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

Let’s make it a true match for completing the construction on the P5 and P6 classrooms.

Thank you to all who have met the challenge with a gift to help us get the full $10,000.



April 2016 Newsletter

April first found me, Mama Arlene, still in America. The time to return to Rwanda was near. I have to admit I was very homesick for the kids and Urukundo. I love my family in America and would like to be both places at the same time. With technology advancing at such a fast pace one day it will happen. “Beam me up Scotty” Those of you who know that quote it is now only a hope. In time it will be a HOPE MADE REAL.

While in the US, I was blessed with special visits with two of my younger sisters.

Special visitors were Lilliane and her family in America.

Welcome home! 

Flowers welcomed me home!

The University kids and graduates meet me at the airport. It was a wonderful surprise. These beautiful flowers were their gift to me along with hugs and kisses.

The small bouquet were from the little kids.

Home with the Kids

What joy we shared.

Jeanne our TEACHER and long term volunteer was on hand with a big smile and a hug.

Secondary kids were home. Abias gives mom a hug.

Signs were on bushes and walls in my kitchen. Large posters with messages from the kids were in the living and play area. It is great that our kids are older and can write to see the artwork involved.

Sports on the increase

Our kids are getting tall and the tall ones want basketball and they should have it. A gift of 4 basketballs and nets for the hoops were sent home with me for the kids. We now have happy children.

Luki with big brother Bosco teaching technique.

Great shot.  Two of the basketballs will go to the Urukundo Learning Center.  Now the school can have a basketball & a Soccer team ready for competition.

Urukundo Home has its very own Foote Ball (Soccer) teams. Luki’s team and Claude’s team.  For Mummy’s home coming they had a match. It was exciting.   Mummy presented the winning team with a trophy.

The winning team was team Captain Luki, goalie Kaboss, Agide, Nelly, Kenila, Kenny, and Claudine.

Talk about exciting sports: The teachers challenged the Urukundo Staff to a match. Urukundo Staff won. Score was 4-2 Urukundo staff.

Teachers in green stripes – Urukundo in orange and red shirts.

Cultural Center

Music was a high point this month. Our school children were invited to play in a concert in Kigali City. It was a first and I am sure not the last. In spite of heavy rain, they traveled to Kigali and were well received by the audience.

22 of our children participated in a concert in Kigali City

Orchestra on stage

We are so very proud of our Music Program.

Special Gift

Sarah’s sponsor KEENE with the help of her friend Dawn and JUDD VIOLINS in Williamsport, PA presented Sarah with her very own Violin. Sarah wants to follow her sponsor Keene and become a concert violinist. GO FOR IT SARAH.

Top Students

Hats off to Benita and Johnny.
They both were number one in their class for the first quarter.



Looking Ahead

We expect teams coming to help Urukundo with our many programs. In the past, we have had to hire a van to pick up passengers and luggage. Time has come to remedy that condition.

Benj and Jean Marie came up with the perfect solution. It is a carrier built by them with help from others. Now with our big car pulling the carrier, we are self-sufficient. Congratulations Benj and Jean Marie!

Carrier with Hitch


We are sad to see Jeanne go. She has been a blessing to our kids, the school and especially Mama.  Come back soon Jeanne.

Olive says bye. Come back soon.

Head teacher, Theogin took time out of school to let Jeanne know how important her time was at the school working with the teachers. Jeanne chose to leave before the school day ends. Too emotional I know; parting from the kids is hard.

Challenge Set Forth


To those who love Urukundo kids and the school project Help complete our Primary School. With your help we will have all 6 grades built and ready for students in this year 2016. Accept the challenge and help make it happen.


Match and send your donation today to
Hope Made Real
PO Box 3222
Williamsport, PA 17701

New stones added to PATH TO LEARNING $1000 or more donation to $10000 Challenge.

Any size donation is acceptable. Help us get the full matched $20,000


Our 10 year celebration is just around the corner. Come to help celebrate if you can. If you can’t come keep us in prayer.

What We can Do

You make this possible when you share gifts of clothing. Six month old twins and mama in need of what we have to share. These babies have 2 brothers at home. One 3 years and one 7 years. A beautiful family in need. It is gratifying when we can help.

How mama carries twins.

Boy Elyse & Belise Girl


Path to Learning

New stones on the Path to Learning.


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.

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