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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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Special October Newsletter

Nature Plays a Trick

October 1, 2015, will go down as memorable day in Urukundo Village. The hurricane strength winds, hail stones and rain from the night before (September 30) were devastating. Our farm lay in ruins. An earthquake last month and a hurricane/tornado this month I wonder what next month will bring.  

This crazy storm gave no warning. It ignored the homes (Praise God) but gave grief to the farm. One of the little boys told me, "mama the pigs roof flyed." He was right.  The whole roof was lifted in one piece and flew up the mountain.  The children saw it happen from inside the boy’s house. It was 5:30 in the evening and darker than usual but the kids could still see the roof fly.

Inspecting the damage at 6 am the next morning, I was joined by many of the more adventuresome kids still in bedclothes and towels.

We found the scene hard to believe.  The Pigs house. No roof. It FLYED.

The baby chick house.

The rabbit house. 

Roofing twisted and mangles in shambles.

The bunk house and cow barn. 

Work begins.

We really are grateful no one was hurt and the animals were ok, just had to be moved.  It will take some time but we will recover.  Life goes on.

Our first priority was getting the pigs under roof and protected. Moving the pigs was impossible. It took 20 strong men to pick up that roof bring it down the mountain and get it back in place. They did it.

Proof Positive.  A days work but the pigs are ok and under roof.

One week later. Bricks added will change the angle of the roof

October 10, new roof for rabbit & baby chick house. 10 days after the storm all roofs are in place.

Our workers are amazing. Now clean up and the interior work begins to restore the animals to their homes.

Thanks to everyone who came to our aid.

We were good but now we will be better. Each experience is a learning one.

Getting the roofs replaced is priority and that is nearly completed. I thank God for that. We took money from other accounts (school, Dental, sewing Center etc) in order to replace the roofs.  I am so glad this money was available but it has to be replaced in order to cover needs and wages for the month. Each gift helps replace that funding. 

The kids were great. Frightened yes, but they worried about me and the animals. Seeing the roof come off the pigs house and fly up the mountain is something they will not soon forget. 6 am October 1 the braver of the kids came out in towels and sleepwear and walked with me to inspect the damage to the farm.

Now that the roofs are in place it is time to clean up the inside damage and make the houses safe to return the animals to their places.  I should not be but was surprised at the ground level damage. Benjiman walked me through yesterday to see the roofs and I saw the inside damage more clearly. I think I was so concerned about the roofs, I did not see everything when I inspected the other times. 

The cows were most effected. I did know but had forgotten that when scared cows do not let down their milk and so the supply is limited until they are relaxed again. It did not effect the large chickens’ house. Only the baby chick house was demolished inside, roof and outside. The timing was ok. We had just moved the babies to the next house to bring in new babies. Don’t know yet if it traumatized the rabbits. So far no miscarriages. Hey, I really am learning a lot about life on a farm. 

Sorry it has taken me this long to get my thoughts together.


In closing, I leave you with this:

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.


September 2015 Newsletter

September is not the month for school to start in Rwanda but it is a busy month just the same. We were blessed with wonderful visitors and trusting in God we started clearing and leveling the land for the toilet facility for the New Primary 4 class room and the expected Primary 5 & 6 when they are completed and students are there. Funds needed.

We saw our University kids settled in Kigali town. Two of them did start University in September.

Special Surprise

Teachers, Guards, Office personal and all available Home staff pitched in to make a difference at Urukundo Learning Center. They have declared an Umugunda (day set aside to do work on a volunteer basis) day just for our school. They are leveling and preparing the ground around the new Primary 4 building. This is hard work and so appreciated. 

Moving a Mountain

Jean Marie Exec Director second from the top in Red.
I am told he worked very hard.

Secretary Juliette moving dirt. Awesome job. Olive in black Shirt on the road. Office personal well representative. Notice I am not there.

 Primary 4 looking good

When the rains truly come grass and trees will be planted to hold the soil.

Teachers & Staff plan two more workdays in the next two-month.
Leveling work yet to be done.

News from the Urukundo Children’s Sewing Center Technical School

It was a pleasure to present a brand new sewing machine to the top student of our first Graduating class. We hope this will be an annual event.

Manager and head teacher Theresa and co manager and teacher Desiree present the gift to Mary Claire at the Sewing Center. A proud moment for all.

Mama & Baby House

The house for new mothers and their infants has taken on a life of it’s own. Not exactly what we had thought but in many ways better. Cultural conflict does not allow mothers to come and stay but they do come and visit with the Midwife and Nurse getting advise, help if needed and clothes for their newborn. At the same time we share with them clothes for their older children. This ministry is an outreach that now has expanded to more than just the mothers and the new born but to other needy children in our world. Our need for newborn clothes and clothes for older children is ever growing. Sharing is what we do at Urukundo. God in Charge.

Presenting hats for new born babies to the director at the birthing Center.

Nurse Julliane presenting the director with the first Layette.

Head of the Medical Center came to Urukundo to get a better understanding of our mission as a good neighbor and to give us a better understanding of the hospitals desire to work with us.

Development at the Sewing Center

The students and Head Teacher designed the Uniform for Urukundo’s sewing school. Next months newsletter will give more information as we develop and become a recognized Technical School for sewing.

New student Uniform for Sewing Center

Reunion of Louise and Luki

Louise came home to Urukundo after a 3 year absence to see Luki her sponsored child and all the kids. Louise has sponsored Luki for 9 years. She first met him when he was a 6 month old baby. It was a happy reunion. Luki is now 9 years old and in Primary 3 (third grade).


New look and new teacher at the Library

Librarian Irene -Pronounced E ra nay . He is a teacher and is learning how to manage a library. This takes special training. Volunteers needed.

Sports at Urukundo

Thanks to a new friend named Michael John, we have soccer balls. The kids are so excited to have such a wonderful gift.  We thank the Philadelphia Inquirer for the article they published. That article introduced Urukundo Kids to Michael. We are grateful to Diane Mastrull dmastrull@phillynews.com. She presented us very well.
Thank you
Mama & Kids



View from the present

Wish I had the original picture when these boys came to us as babies.
Some of you who have been with Urukundo from 2006 may remember the "TRIPLETS" all boys. We loved and supported them as tiny babies born to a mama with 9 children already. She needed help with milk and medical care for them.  Much to my surprise the mother came to worship at Urukundo Sunday, September 20 and brought the boys for me to see how they had grown.  What a wonderful surprise for me.  The boys are 9 year olds now and beautiful boys indeed.  Such happy smiles!

Another walk down memory lane
This is Belise, our first girl under 7 years of age.  Belise was 4 years old when she came to make her home at Urukundo. She has grown into a lovely young girl and is finishing her first year of High School.
She has a penpal named Katie in Pennsylvania, USA and enjoys writing to her sitting at mama’s desk.



Saying "bye" to visitors is a bit painful more for the visitors than for the children

Goodbye to Lennart and Angelaque

Lennart and his mother Angelique Westmark from Germany

This one was very hard.  Lennart Plays guitar for the kids and then sings a song every evening at devotions and Mama Westmark spent special time with all the kids at school and later with our kids at home after school.  Love her Rwanda necklace.

Katie Keating and her daughter Katrina pictured in the visitors section in August newsletter shared two of their favorite photos with me for this newsletter.

Daycare bunch at Nursery  All three and under. An elite group; Jenny, Kavine, Banite, Bella, Jacob, Jason
Edison, and Diane. Soso came to join in the picture, he is four. 

Johnny, Soso and Rebekah.  Thank you Katrina for sharing the photos.

Path to Learning

A stone was placed on the path to Learning in September to honor:
HENRY LEIGH by his daughter Debra Kenworthy.  We also placed a stone for Debra by her dad’s stone. It seemed appropriate. Thank you Debra!

The path extends from the gate to the Flagpole. We are now widening it by two stones near the flagpole. 


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.


August 2015 Newsletter

Earthquake on August 7 shook our beds waking us up from our nights sleep. Thankfully for us it was a small one. However, the kids have lots of questions so the devotion that evening explored what are earthquakes and why do they happen. I learned a lot because I am the one to answer questions. I get smarter every day.

August started off a very tough month.

Our youth from Urukundo in America is growing. We now have Kevin, Solange, Lucie, Tresor, Lilliane, and soon I hope Diescor will also travel to the US through a Rotary program for students.

August was a month of mixed emotions. Saying so long for a while to Tresor and Lilliane was such an event. We were all happy for them to have the opportunity to go to the USA for study but we will miss them and look forward to their return home in the future. The party was great fun.

P3 kids were allowed to stay late to the party. Nelly, Cedric, Emmanuel, Luki, Claude. Even Mama got caught in a photo or two.

I forgot the camera taking Tresor to the airport close to midnight. Lilliane went in the afternoon so we did get a few pictures.  Brothers Diescor and Alexander were on hand to say TRAVEL SAFE.

Carol Falke, State College, Lilliane and Pastor Sunny Stock pose for a photo for mama.  Lilliane really is in the USA. Hard to believe.  Thanks guys.

Sewing Center

Graduation at the SEWING CENTER.  Our first class to receive a certificate graduated on July 30,2015.  

The newest addition to our Urukundo family.

Her name is Livine.  Livine is 6 years old and in Primary 1.  Sarah was happy to welcome her as they are the same age and in the same class in school. They will be best friends as well as sisters. We now have Divine, Kavine and Livine.

Mama Delphine, Sister Monique, and our little girl. Livine is here to have a better life and achieve an education.


Visitors from Pittsbugh

Pirate fans of course. They brought Baseball to Urukundo. Margie & Bruce (Grandpa & Grandma) visited with son Rob, daughter–in-law and grandsons Wyatt, Henry, and Oscar, came with bats and balls and a lot of energy. The kids loved it. Little League World Series 2020 look out. Our champs may be ready. Soso will be a bit young yet.

Team players and teachers.

Running bases was exciting with a lot of cheering and encouraging shouts. Run! Run!, Touch the base, You’re out, etc. Missing the ball created a lot of laughter. It was a wonderful day for the kids.

Baseball players need a break. Looking out at the passers by on the road is such fun.

Slugger Kavine

Margie also brought Barb and Dale, good friends for a very long time.


More Fun

Ever hear of Rocket Balloons. Well I had not. Johnny’s sponsor sent them to the kids. There is a pump to inflate the very long balloons. You must hold the open end very tight. Then you point them in the air and let go. They go up with a squealing sound and the air carries them even higher. They do come back down to be flown again. Our football field is the perfect place because there are no trees or roofs for them to land on.It was such an exciting day for kids and visitors.

Kaboss and his green rocket. See others getting ready to be released.


The babies were included in the fun.

The library got a workout during the school holiday. The little ones in the morning and the older kids in the afternoon. The kids love books and stories. What better use for the library?

Kyra Manjone & Megan Bensinger came in August. Both girls had just graduated from Nursing school. Congratulations to both of you on your achievement. This is Megan’s third trip to Urukundo and the kids and Kyra’s first time. She has promised the kids she will come back.

A Gift Receieved

A gift from Christ Church McKeansburg of much needed communion cups was presented to our pastor in Worship. Claude helped do the presentation. He is becoming a leader among the children. The congregation was very please to receive the gift of pajamas for our kids All the little ones had to model the PJ’s although some were a very tight fit.

They fit the little ones just fine

Our visitor, Megan danced for The Lord and to please the children. Ballet is such a beautiful form of dance. Megan comes from Christ Church McKeansburg, Pa. Yes, this is where Lilliane is living and going to school. Megan will be there to cheer her on.

Kyra and Megan walked the kids to school many mornings and worked in the Preschool

Saying goodbye to Mary Moore was a bit painful for her and for the kids. Tears were shed. We look forward to her return.

Come back soon Mary!

Our secondary girls were happy to be together again. They each go to a different school and so it is a reunion each time they come home on holiday.

Debora, Anitha, Dada, Esperance

Deborah sends her love and appreciation to Karen in California

Esperance sends her love and appreciation to Yvonne in Reston Virginia.

Pacifique (Dada) sends her love and appreciation to Talia, her mom, and sister in PA.

Anitha sends her love and appreciation to Carol in Pennsylvania.

Belise says Thank You and sends her love and appreciation to Ed & Norma in PA. Belise was 4 years old when she became family.

From a grateful Mama

Let me add my Thank You and deepest heart felt appreciation. You are making such a difference in the lives of these young girls. It could not be done without your love and support.

Urukundo Foundation Board members inspect the new office complex. 

Urukundo National Board inspect the new development finished complex. Baby & Mama House, Office complex, Mama’s home, garden, trees, and beautiful Rwanda sky. We are so blessed!


The truly fun part of my job is greeting newcomers to Urukundo at the airport. This mama and daughter were a delight. Katie mom and daughter Katrina came for a 9 day stay. They had many interesting days with us. They also visited the GENOCIDE MEMORIAL IN KIGALI and KIBEHO a shrine far into the country south of Urukundo. They marveled that Oswalde our driver could navigate mountain roads. He is an awesome driver. We are blessed to have him.

Visitors from Germany

Relaxing in the front garden at Mama’s house Lennart Westmark a second time visitor brought his Mama Angelique to meet his family at Urukundo Village.

Auntie Jolly came home from University. Welcome home Jolly!

Jolly is preparing a bible study for evening devotions on Mama’s veranda. Yep with a cell phone attached to her ear. Seems to be the trend.

Path to Learning

A new stone was added to the Path to Learning at the Learning Center

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


Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.


July 2015 Newsletter

July has been a very busy wonderful month. We had special visitors but then all our visitors are special.

We hired a nurse for the MAMA & BABY LOVE HOUSE. She is also helping to give medical care to the kids. The kids love her. Her name is Julliane.

Construction on Primary 4 was completed.

A second car has been added to our foundation. This car will be used for short trips or trips where less than 6 people need transportation. This will save on gas consumption and wear and tare on the bigger car. The big car is needed for transporting people and luggage to and from the airport.

Trying to be practical.


Jean Marie finally finished the wedding celebration with the Dowry and Church ceremony.  I attended the Dowry. 

Traditional walk escorting the Groom to the ceremony.  Groomsmen and escort.

Each groomsman is accompanied by an attendant.

Raissa receives ring

Behold the Queen & King

Church wedding Ceremony

It was my pleasure to attend that wedding along with Urukundo kids and staff.

Primary 3 & 2 kids posing for photo time. My how they have grown.

Tresor & Jacob.

 Jacob will miss his big brother. Much love Tresor from Jacob and all the family.

Three stones were added to the PATH TO LEARNING

We appreciate the gifts to the EDUCATION FUND these stones represent.

Visitors for July

Our visitors for July have been such a blessing to Urukundo & the kids.

Mom Noel & big brother Will Moore spent the day at Urukundo. Mary is here for the month.

Mary has been very busy helping out at the school in our kids clothes closet and nursing a case of the travelers’ stomach complaints. After several days, she is on the mend. Stay well Mary.

A team of 5 from WORLD ORPHAN FUND visited Urukundo Village and experienced our world. They took part in every facet of Urukundo from serving meals to our kids, visiting the school kids, taking part in the opening ceremony, making the acquaintance of Daisy the cow, to walking into Gitarama town. They truly covered a lot of ground in their 3-day visit. 

We were sad to see them go. 

Check out their website, The World Orphan Fund  www.theworldorphanfund.org. This is a very worthy organization

They came with no preconceived ideas, come with an open-mind and lead with their hearts.

The love shared was a two way street. Gary Reed became Jerry Reed, Steve Donovan lead devotions twice and all participated. Devotions with the kids is a real experience. Suzanne and Brenda decided they might be able to take a few of the kids home but I carefully check suitcases before allowing them out of the country. Ha Ha.

They squeezed their travel time to spend an hour Sunday morning in worship with the kids. Yes, we did get them to the airport on time but with little time to spare

RJ Johnson, Team Leader made a special friend. Baby Jenny accepted her first Musunga friend. It was a big event for our little girl.

Keza McGreagor was our youngest visitor this month. A beautiful little girl. 

Her proud dad Tom has been a part of Urukundo family since 2007, Tom married and brought Rita into our family.

Tom has been sponsor for Tresor and has had the honor of seeing his boy receive a scholarship from MASTERCARD FOUNDATION TO ATTEND ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY IN THE USA.

We are very proud of Tresor and were pleased that Tom, Rita and Keza came to bid GOOD JOURNEY TO TRESOR. And wish him well in America.

John Paul and his buddy Jacob welcome Keza.  JP will try to fill the gap for Jacob until Tresor comes home.

Kyle Jerro is a constant at Urukundo and loved by the kids and me.

Kyle stopped for two weeks with his Urukundo Family. It was a very short visit.  This is Kyle’s home away from home when he is traveling in Africa. Next stop Kenya.

First trip in a big car.

Folke our little friend from Denmark/Norway invited our 2-3 year olds to a party at his house. It was quite an event and very scary for our babies. It took some persuasion to get Jacob in the car. First time inside a moto car is very scary.


Many babies (piglets) born June 29, 2015 and a very tired mama pig.


Two stones were added to THE PATHWAY TO LEARNING in July.

Your donation of $100 places a stone on the path at the LEARNING CENTER.

You may choose the inscription to be on the stone.

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


Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.


June 2015 Newsletter: Reflections of trip to USA and back Home to Rwanda

June has been a mixed bag for me. Coming home to the children, staff and friends in Rwanda was wonderful but leaving family and friends in the US made me very sad.

After hulling suitcases all over from Pittsburgh to State College to Williamsport to Skylkill Haven and then to Reston, VA the amount of suitcases had reached 9 and all very big. Finally a pick-up truck was needed to get myself, Ana, and the luggage to the airport. Fortunately, Mary Jackson and Kathy Kelly knew someone who had such a truck.

News Worth Reading

If you have not taken the time to read the wonderful and enlightening article in the Philadelphia Inquires about Urukundo, its kids and me please take some time and read it.

It is in the business section of Philly.com in the May 10, 2015 issue. Diane Mastrull wrote the article.

Diane is the one a bit, shorter and a lot younger than me.

Arrival Home

Arriving at home in Rwanda I was so happy to see the kids that I forgot to use the camera.  So I will give you the picture in words.  The welcome home was spectacular.  The happy smiling faces warmed my heart.  Jacob our 2 year old was the official greeter. He had the biggest smile as he handed me a beautiful RUBY RED FLOWER tied with a ribbon.  Stretched across my door entrance was a ribbon. It was my duty to cut the ribbon so I could officially enter and be home at last. Aline handed me a plate with a decorated pair of scissors on it. When I cut the ribbon every one cheered.  On my bedroom door there was a sign.

The children and staff gave me a bit of time to get my feet firmly planted in Urukundo.  After school dismissed at 4:30, all Urukundo kids, staff, and teachers gathered at Hope House where we shared Fanta (coke, sprite, orange and lemon soda) and cookies.  The teachers and staff blew up the balloons that the kids had been wishing for.   The kids excitement grew as balloons were popping everywhere.

Every time a balloon exploded there was a great cheer and much laughter. It was fun and a good time was had by all, especially me. By the time the celebration was over I was dragging a bit, but I was home safe and a little bit sound.

Bear with Me

I want to share with you some of the most important events of my trip to the USA.

  1. Great Grand blessings

    The most important for me was meeting the new great grandbabies born after my return to Urukundo 2 yrs. ago.  This first meeting was a real joy.

    This little bundle of happiness is Lucy. She is only 3 weeks old. What a pleasure it was to see and cuddle her.

    Such Joy!

    This happy smiling little girl is Hanna Arlene my namesake.  She is so beautiful.

    Mason is all boy and as handsome as can be. Look out world he is going to make a difference.

  2. Memory Lane

    It has long been my wish to visit Commodore the coal-mining town where I grew up. I did not think it was possible. I sometimes forget with God all things are possible. Thanks to Mark Phoebus and an invitation to speak at Calvery Presbyterian Church in Indiana, PA. Another HOPE WAS MADE REAL. Thank you Mark. Ok, I could not possible be that big. It had to be the dress.

    This is all that is left of the school I loved so much.

    The front steps, the wall and a field. This was a bit sad. Those steps were much higher when I was little.

    The house I grew up in has changed. The porch has been added. Wish my mom could see this. The town has changed with the years. It has gotten older as have I. Time does make a difference.

    The street I lived on. The hill was much higher then. Or so it seemed to me.

  3. USA Family and Urukundo Family in America


  4. Friends a Few

The sad part of my newsletter

It is with a heavy heart that I share this sad news. I was blessed to have spent a day in April with Sally and John Guiswite and planned to spend 3 days with Sally before coming home in June. Sally has been to Urukundo two times and John once. She was my very dear friend. Sally talked to me about coming to Urukundo in 2016 and bringing her granddaughter with her. She like me and so many expect time to continue. It would have been a very welcome visit. We do make plans that do not always work out. Sally’s soul was required of her suddenly and she left this earth on another journey. Sally was a leader in her church and loved by everyone who knew her. I will miss my friend Sally as will so many others.

News from the Farm

The Farm Manager needed an office and a place where he would have better control of produce from the farm. Instead of building we renovated an existing building. Making better use of what we have has long been the policy of Urukundo.  We are pleased with the results.

Closing open spaces, putting in windows, replacing the roof has made a difference.

Ready for occupancy. 

Vistors For June

Diane Titmus from Canada spent a few days at Urukundo. Ana Loera who traveled with me from the USA hails from Texas. Ana spent a month working with the Primary teachers.  Sorry for the grumpy look. The sun was in my eyes.

It's Dave Howell at Urukundo for his 3rd time with his granddaughter- in-law Danielle.


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


Mama Arlene
Urukundo Foundation/Hope Made Real

Help make their world a better place.

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