1 April 2014

Rwanda: After 20 Years As an Orphanage, Imbabazi to Become a Pre-School

Formed in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi by an 82-year-old Rosamond Carr (known to her pals as Roz), Imbabazi foundation has moved on to become a pre-school, working to keep Roz's legacy alive by not only supporting children but also working in line with government's child care reforms.

A place where children receive all the love and care a mother would give, Imbabazi foundation is one of the oldest orphanages in Rwanda.

Located in Mudende Sector, Rubavu District, Imbabazi was founded by Roz, one of the longest-living foreign resident in Rwanda and a mother who never had children of her own but dedicated her life to mothering hundreds of Rwandan homeless children.

Roz witnessed the fall of colonialism in Africa and the emergence of new struggling African states. She survived African troubles including civil wars, revolutions and one of the greatest human catastrophes of our time, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Dominique Ndikumana, 23, an orphan with no trace for his biological family was taken to Imbabazi orphanage in 1997 by Roberto, his Italian foster father who worked as a volunteer in Rwanda in the post-Genocide period.

He is now a second year public health student at Mount Kenya University, a painter and a part-time (but professional) photographer.

"My life has been a mystery but I have managed to embrace it with hope and humility, something I learnt from Mama Roz,"Ndikumana said.

Roz passed on in September 2006 at the age of 94 and she was laid to rest at Imbabazi, the home where she nursed more than 400 lost or orphaned children.

However, the operations of Imbabazi have continued thanks to the Imbabazi Foundation Board of Directors and the onsite management team.

Speaking at the fundraising for the pre-school at The Manor Hotel in Nyarutarama on Thursday evening, Graeme Loten, the foundation's CEO said they intend to keep Roz Carr's legacy by supporting the community surrounding the home.

"Roz offered educational opportunities to her children, and we would love to see that legacy continue," Loten said.

Loten said the pre-school is in its initial stages and is expected to start in mid 2014.

"Preschools are rare and unique opportunities in rural areas of Rwanda, and in providing an early childhood education programme, Imbabazi is looking forward to preparing students between the ages of three and six, for primary school,"Loten reiterated.

The school curriculum shall concentrate on English teaching, creative procedures, implementing different art programmes for developmental growth, hands-on learning, nutritional and hygienic development and farming skills among others.

"Roz was a mother who cared for humanity and it is through this initiative that we will continue to care for the Mudende community. We hope to enroll adults too for short language and literature courses," Loten said.

He said the school will benefit all people regardless of social status.

"We feel no one should be left out. That is why we want to start with minimum school fees so that poor families do not shy away because of school fees," Loten said.

Loten said Imbabazi aims at ensuring that children are happy in families and are getting care and the needed love that can enable them integrate in those families.

"None of us wants to see these children go back on the streets because they have lacked love from families," he said

"The key benefit of the reforms is to prepare the children for their later life. These are orphaned children so we need to give them advice, love and affection that they are supposed to get from their parents. But we also have to make sure that they go to school and aim higher in life," Loten added.

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