To be honest I don’t recall having ever heard of International Women’s Day before I came to Rwanda. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve just been oblivious all these years or if it’s because it’s just not a major holiday in the States. My guess is the latter, but only because America is a country where women for the most part have the equality and respect they deserve.

Just as in the U.S. and Europe Christmas is a huge holiday in Rwanda. It’s a time for families and friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company, eat a lot of food and perhaps exchange gifts. It’s no different at the Rwandan Orphans Project. In recent years Christmas has been celebrated at the ROP Center by sharing a meal on Christmas day, usually followed by some performances of song and dance from our boys.

Christmas is still days away, yet this is already a December to remember for the Rwandan Orphans Project. After Thursday’s visit from AGCI and the snacks and company they brought along, our boys were given another unexpected treat yesterday when a group from Inyange Industries, Rwanda’s largest beverage producer and one of the largest companies in the country, paid them a visit. The staff knew about their visit but we decided not to tell any of the children so it would be a total surprise. Early in the morning some people from Inyange came to the ROP Center, setup a tent, and left without cluing them in on what was going on. When Jenny and I arrived some of the older boys approached me and asked what was going on. I told them I had no idea. They replied, “How can you not know? You are our leaders.” I continued to play dumb.

Tis the season, and this year, more than ever we are seeing individuals and groups coming to our aid to provide our nearly 100 boys with the best holiday season they’ve ever had. Today we had the privilege of hosting an an organization called All God’s Children International (AGCI). The way they came to know us was through pure chance, as is sometimes the case here in Kigali.

Tulane University Master’s student, Jonathan LaMare, spent three months as an intern with the ROP in 2011. During that time he celebrated his birthday in Kigali. Here he talks about his very wet birthday celebrations at the ROP centre.

The Rwandan Orphans Project has never had much to call our own. In the early days the Center was nothing more than a half-built, abandoned warehouse in Kigali’s dingy industrial district where hundreds of street kids came in search of food and a place to sleep. Fast forward to the present and the ROP Center occupies what was once a boarding school that sits on a large piece of land in a peaceful area called Nyarugunga. As wonderful as our current home is, it doesn’t belong to us. We only use it thanks to the generosity of a wealthy Rwandan couple who own the property and allow us to use it rent free.

Last week the Rwandan Orphans Project received a surprise visit from a group of men from the UK who represent an organization called Cricket Without Boundaries. CWB uses the game of cricket to promote education on HIV/AIDS prevention and other topics to children in developing countries. In their own words:

We promised some more details about our exciting new partnership with Jackie Chan’s European foundation and here they are!

The Rwandan Orphans Project is pleased to announce a new collaboration with a top American university!

On Sunday the ROP Eagles played a match against children from OVC Rwanda (another orphanage across town). The event was meant to be an all day tournament featuring the ROP Eagles, OVC Rwanda, another local center and a team composed of mixed players, including myself, but at the last minute one of the teams cancelled so we decided just to have a friendly match against OVC. The event was organized by Veronica, an American working in Rwanda who wants to organize fund raising events that multiple centers like ours can participate in.

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