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This is Chipo in 2010!

Chipo is a lovely girl. She is from a small village in the Ruheru area (Nyaruguru region) of Rwanda (Africa).
She comes from a family with 5 kids. Her family lives on agriculture and breeding (they have two goats).
Chipo just started attending the local kindergarten and she cannot write yet.
With our regular monthly support, we will help her growing up, school education, HIV prevention, medical check-ups, and so on.

Click here to read the most recent news and 'Starfish' interventions in Chipo's country


March 2019

Another beautiful and colorful drawing from our lovely artist, Chipo! She has also painted a chameleon!

and here is her letter:
"Hello my dear sponsor.
I hope you are doing good with your families.
I and my family are doing great. Last year was so good to me! We thank you very much for your support.
We are farmers at home, we grow different crops like peas and potatoes.
I am doing good at school and I help my parents with the work at home.
Thank you!

January 2019

We have just received a lovely photo from Chipo holding a sign that says
'Best Wishes from Rwanda'!

All our Best Wishes to you, sweet Chipo!

October 2018

We have received a nice and unexpected surprise from Chipo!
In order to celebrate our 8-year bond with her and her community, she sent us two photos:
in the first one she is waving hello to all the warm-hearted Starfish supporters, and in the second one she is introducing her lovely younger sister to all of us.
THANK YOU sweet Chipo!

September 2018

We have just received a new message with a colorful and elaborated drawing from our lovely Chipo!
Here is her artistic work:

and her message is as follows,
"Hello my dear sponsor, how are you?
I am greeting you and I hope you are very fine. I and my family are good - we are now in the raining season.
My parents are growing different crops like Irish potatoes. I was very happy to receive your letter wishing me to study well, you have sent me a gift for my drawings, too!
We love you so much and you are also in our hearts.
Thank you for the help you always give us to develop our families.
Thank you again!

March 2018

It's always so beautiful to get a message from Chipo!
And we have also received a lovely drawing from her!

This is her fantastic drawing, with an original wickerwork applied to the roof of a house:

and her letter says,
"Hello my dear supporter, how are you doing? Hope you are all in good health. My family and I, we are doing great and I am studying well at Gakaranka primary school.
Here we are in the rain season, the farmers are growing beans, peas and potatoes.
After school I like to help my parents in some works at home.
I have the drawings to thank you. I hope they will make you happy.
May God bless you. Thank you!

August 2017

We have just received a beautiful message and a lovely, colorful drawing from Chipo.

Here they are!

and her letter says,
"Hello dear sponsor! How are you? I am very happy to write to you and tell you my news.
My family and I are fine and we love you very much.
Here it is the rainy season and we are growing wheat and sweet potatoes.
Thank you so much for all you do for us, like building very nice schools near our homes and helping with modern farming.
I am sending you my drawings and I hope you will like them.
Thank you!
God bless you!

June 2017

We have just received a very recent photo from Chipo.
We are so happy to see that she is growing up in such a marvellous way!

She is proudly showing her schoolbook - in fact she loves to go to school and to learn new things together with her friends.
In the envelope we also found some updated news from Rwanda - you can read the relevant report by scrolling down this page to the dedicated section 'Updates on Chipo's District'.

March 2017

Here is a colorful drawing we just received from lovely Chipo:

She also sent this sweet message:
'Hello my dear sponsor, I hope you are doing fine.
I want to inform you that my family and I are growing
maize and are right now harvesting potatoes.
I would also like to thank you very much for your support.
Happy New Year 2017 to all of you!
Bye Bye!

Click here to know more about updated projects in Chipo's country

August 2016

We have received a new lovely drawing from Chipo:

She also wrote this sweet message:
'Hello dear friends, how are you doing?
I painted for you a good school built for us in our village, and I have drawn a car that comes to visit us at my school.
Me and my family are doing fine.
When I come home from school I help my parents in the houseworks such as collecting firewood. Thank you.
May God bless you. Bye Bye

February 2016

We have received a sweet message from Chipo!

First of all, she sent us a new beautiful photo: she is growing up so fast!

And here is her new drawing, too!

She also wrote the following message:
'Hello dear sponsor! How are you there? I and my family are fine.
Here it's a rainy season and we grow a lot of crops.
Dear sponsor, thans for your support: it helps us a lot!
I wish you a good time and also Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Thanks a lot!"

August 2015

We have received a lovely update from Chipo!

This is her colorful drawing, and her written note says:

'My lovely sponsor! How are you and your families? I am very fine and happy to send you this message. I am in grade 3 of primary at Gakaranka. My parents are doing well and are say8ing hello to all of you. We are in rainy season.Aat our home we are rearing cows, pigs, rabbits and goats. After school I go to look after the rabbits. I like playing hand ball with my friends. Here we had a nice Easter. I have drawn some pictures for you like a house, people, flowers on the table so that I will be happy. Thank you!'.

January 2015

We have received a new update from Chipo!

This is her beautiful drawing, while her message says:

'Hallo dear Starfish! How are you? I'm doing fine.
We are in the raining season, it's cold here. We thank you for all the support you are giving us.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

August 2014

Here is a new sweet update from Chipo!

This is her colorful drawing, while her letter says:

'Dear Starfish, I'm still studying at the Gakaranka Primary School. When I am at home, I fetch the water and I collect the grass for the livestock. I drew for you a road, a car, a table, some flowers, some baskets, two girls and an umbrella. I had a good Easter: I drank soft drinks and ate a bread bought by my grandfather. I hope you are all fine!'.

February 2014

Here is an update from lovely Chipo - a new drawing with a lovely message:

Her message says: 'Dear Starfish, How are you? I am in grade 4 at Gakaranka Primary School and I like studying. I have both parents and siblings. My parents are farmers and I have drawn for you a car, a house, a person, flowers and schools. We thank you for good schools built for us. Please come and visit us, we live near the Nyungwe National Park. I wish you a Happy 2014!'.

September 2013

Here is an update from lovely Chipo - a new photo showing how fast she is growing up:

She also sent us a beautiful, big, colorful drawing (click on it for the bigger version).... well as a lovely letter: 'Dear Starfish, I study at Sakaranka primary school and I'm in grade 2 primary level. I'm glad for your wonderful letter sent to me. I got it. We are doing well with my family. We wish you all the best and we love you all. We thank you because we now have a better horse at home. God bless you all'.

March 2013

Here is an update from Chipo with a colorful drawing (click on it for a bigger version):

She writes, 'Dear Starfish, how are you? Let me hope you are fine. I am 8 years old now and I am studying in grade two at Yakaranka Primary School. I have both of my parents but my mum now is sick. We are farmers and we rear a cow so that we can drink milk.
I thank you for supporting women by giving them goats, too.
I thank you also for constructing schools and toilets.
I have drawn for you flowers, a cow and many other pictures. I hope it will please you.
Bless you! '.

August 2012

We have just received another update from Chipo: a sweet message with a beautiful drawing:

She writes, 'Dear Starfish, how are you? I am now studying in grade two of primary school at Gakaranka. I was the 17th in class last trimester. My father sells minerals, he does not like to be home all the time. We are eight children at home: two girls and six boys. Only four of us study, the others stay at home and help my mother with the house works.
We depend on the growing of wheat, potatoes, corns and sweet potatoes. I live near the Gisanze's center.
I drew for you a house, classrooms, flowers and cups and cars. I have a school uniform.
When I am at home, I often fetch water and collect fire woods.
My favorite food is sweet potatoes and potatoes.
I like to play with a tennis ball. I thank you for your help and your support.

January 2012

We have received another update with photo from lovely Chipo!

She also sent us a sweet message with a colorful drawing:

She writes, 'Dear beloved Starfish, how are you? I guess you are doing fine. I am now studying at Gakaranka primary school in grade one. I live with my seven siblings and Mum, but our Dad is not around, he works in the Estern province mining. My Mum is a farmer but on Fridays she goes solving conflicts among people in our community.
At home, we have a small garden of vegetables, onions and so on.
Thanks for your help. God bless you

September 2011

We have just received another sweet and BIG drawing from super-sweet Chipo!

She also sent us a beautiful updating message. Its translation is the following:

"I'm in grade 1 primary school at Gakaranka. I live with both my parents, I have 6 siblings. I have drawn our house, that is roofed with iron sheet. I have drawn also a car, flower on a person. We have one cow, both my parents are binding. When I'm at home, I fetch water and I collect grass for domestic animals. I like eating potatoes and sweet potatoes. I like playing hide-and-seek and other children games. I thank you for the support because my parents could get 3 goats and ironsheets and cement, plus notebooks, bread, clothes and shoes"

March 2011

Here is another sweet message wtih drawing from Chipo!

She says, "Dear Starfish, how are you? Thank you for helping me. I'm attending kindergarten. We have one cow and live in an ironsheet thatched house. My dad is mason and my dad and my mom also grow wheat and cowpeas. I really like playing football with my friends. I thank you for constructing nice classrooms. Thank you! ".

December 2010

We have received the first drawing and message from Chipo!

Chipo is telling us: 'How are you? My name is Chipo. I am 5 years old. I am atteding the kindergarten. I live with my mother, father and 4 siblings: 3 boys and a girl. At home we have two goats and we also grow sweet potatoes and potatoes. My favorite food is potatoes and vegetables. Our house is thatched with tiles. Thank you for supporting me! Bye!'



Further to supporting Chipo's growing up, our help is therefore also focusing on the following interventions:

- Fight against HIV/AIDS
- Improvement of school system
- Supply of plantable potatoes and biological and artificial fertilizers
- Enhancement of school education

- Enhancement of health system
- Fight against child labor
- Fight against violence on women
- Houses renovation works

In 2019 we are carrying on our multi-faceted interventions to help local people and their communities in their fight against the HIV virus. Herebelow an interesting summary of the present situation in Rwanda:

(Source - The Global Fund) Rwanda is a success story in global health, registering remarkable progress in health equity and other human development indicators. The advances in the country’s health sector have been achieved by building a health care system founded on the principle of coordinating development partners around one national plan, which aims to give all citizens access to quality health care. The country’s constitution made health a right in 2003. (...) Rwanda continues to strengthen its health systems by providing integrated services in health facilities, and subsidizing premiums and co-payments of health insurance for over 2 million of the poorest Rwandans. The country’s life expectancy almost doubled from 35 in 1995 to 67 years in 2017. This remarkable progress has been associated with great advances against infectious diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria, and improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, including progress on vaccines. Despite this progress, the country is a low-income country, which faces enormous challenges in sustainable systems for health, notably in the response to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. (...) Key and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by HIV, with female sex workers registering HIV prevalence of more than 45 percent.

2018 sees a lot of interventions planned and carried on in addition to the on-going ones.

First of all, the promotion of sustainable agriculture and livelihood alternatives and access to natural resources.

A very important on-going effort is also to keep on promoting the quality of public education for girls and boys and children and youth.

Women and girls are taught to break the cycle of silence, poverty and violence, and to build economic alternatives, as well as to claim control over their bodies.

Also mainstreamed are issues relating to disasters and emergencies through building people’s resilience to climate change.

We contribute in supporting communities to use participatory methods to analyse the causes of poverty and injustice and identify solutions through the people engagement, as well as supporting the capacity development of CBOs and women cooperatives to be able to challenge power, advocate for changes, not just in policy and practice but also in attitudes and behaviors to ensure equal access to basic rights.

We are contributing to sustainable economic development in order for those communities to achieve a better life.

Rwanda has been selected to host the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) in 2019. Rwanda has launched the preparatory phase of the conference, which is expected to bring more than 10,000 participants including government officials, researchers and representatives from academic and private sectors.

In addition to the usual on-going healthcare supporting acitons, this year is also dedicated to the promotion of children's rights, in order to grant them a peaceful life, without any obstacles and with the implementation of equality rights between girls and boys. This project will be developed through a network of local organizations in order to spread these essential rights in a thorough way - this has been called the 'Children's voice for a bright future' initiative.

Six 'Children Clubs' have just been implemeted in local Ruheru schools, which are involving 5,000 kids.

As part of the animal farming project, 50 goats have been donated to 5 women coopertives in order to allow local women to start their own family-supporting activity.

Thirty women in the Nyaruguru region have attended some training courses about their own rights and the laws that safeguard their families, as well as their right to work on their land; these thirty women have also grouped together to establish a farming cooperative. This cooperative is pivotal to help them and their families - one of these strong women states, "Now, together, we are able to grow potatoes, corn and beans and with the money I have been earning from this, I was able to buy two cows, 5 goats, and put some of my savings back into this cooperative. My - and above all and my family's! - life changed for the better: now I can afford to pay medical assistance for my family and send my children to school".

New classrooms have been added to the local Ruheru district school, and now there are 45 students in each classroom (previously there were 68!).

The five schools in the Ruheru district that we are supporting, are attended by 6,000 students and in those schoolsthere are now posters describing in details which are the children's untouchable rights, since there are still many girls that are experiencing abuse and violence.

Various Farmers Cooperatives have been established, aiming at improving the farming interventions: development courses have been organized and 2,400 kgs of potato seeds have been donated to 20 community cooperatives.

Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of Rwanda’s GDP (gross domestic product) and it constitutes the main economic activity for the rural households: it represents the main source of income for 80% of the local women and their families.

One of the main 2016 interventions will be to keep on expanding the agriculture local activities improving training and system updating programs: this will also help to increase the importance of women's work in their community.

In the Ruheru district, polygamy is very common and it has devastating effects on women and their lives. Wives live in poverty, with no rights on the properties of their husbands and with no possibility to decide how to spend their own earnings. Children born in these families are abandoned very frequently by their fathers, and their mothers can't count on enough earnings to give them food and education. We are fighting against this terrible habit, too.

Thirteen new classrooms have been built in three primary schools in order to solve the overcrowding problem: kids of different ages and grades were compelled to share the same classroom where two teachers were holding two different lessons at the same time.

The Ruheru district women are becoming more and more independent: some of them, thanks to the money earned by sewing sweaters, are now able to pay the yearly health insurance for them and their families. A single family insurance costs RF 3,000 (1 Euro = 870 Rwanda francs): in this way their families have to bear only 10% of the yearly medical expenses. With their sewing activity, they can also buy clothes, soap and other useful things for their household life.

With our help, almost 4,000 kids have now new classrooms (the old ones have been destroyed by the continuous heavy rain of the last few years). These new classrooms have iron roofs: formerly they had thatched roofs that could not protect the kids from heavy rain and storms.

The plans for this year are:
- to train the teachers on the social integration of disabled kids;
- to implement school vegetable gardens;
- to supply schools with educational materials;
- to build 3 classrooms and three toilets in the Remera primary school;
- to improve the abilities of 40 women in managing their social co-operative budgets

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide: a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority.

During the approximate 100-day period from April 7, 1994 to mid-July, an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 20% of the country's total population and 70% of the Tutsi then living in Rwanda.

The genocide was planned by members of the core political elite known as the 'akazu', many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government. Perpetrators came from the ranks of the Rwandan army, the National Police, government-backed militias including the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, and the Hutu civilian population.

The genocide took place in the context of the Rwandan Civil War, an ongoing conflict beginning in 1990 between the Hutu-led government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was largely composed of Tutsi refugees whose families had fled to Uganda following earlier waves of Hutu violence against the Tutsi.

This genocide had a lasting and profound impact on Rwanda and its neighboring countries. The pervasive use of war rape caused a spike in HIV infection, including babies born of rape to newly infected mothers; many households were headed by orphaned children or widows.

The destruction of infrastructure and a severe depopulation of the country crippled the economy, challenging the nascent government to achieve rapid economic growth and stabilization.

Today, Rwanda has two public holidays commemorating the genocide. The national commemoration period begins with Genocide Memorial Day on April 7 and concludes with Liberation Day on July 4. The week following April 7 is designated an official week of mourning. The Rwandan Genocide served as the impetus for creating the International Criminal Court to eliminate the need for ad hoc tribunals to prosecute those accused in future incidents of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In April 2013, four classrooms of the Gakaranka Primary School were destroyed by a terrible storm. The targeted intervention allowed the reconstruction of five new classrooms, where 450 students are now regularly studying.

Our supports also helped in building 18 toilet facilities in the Gahotora school, with a division between girls and boys areas in order to grant an improved privacy to the female teens.

Thanks to awareness projects, the percentage of HIV-positive people has now decreased to 3% in this community. Many things still need to be done on this matter, though: we must not lower our guard since in the surrounding areas AIDS is still rampant.

This year a new project has been implemented: 90 kids from the Ruheru area received a small goat each, and in the next months they will pass the new doe kids on to other families in their area. Further than milk, goats give them a natural fertilizer for their farming.

In the next few years at least 20 families in the Ruheru district will have a better life. With our help those 20 families, grouped in an organization called 'Njye nawe Tuzamurane', started a pig breeding activity. They started it with 20 pigs and when other piglets will be born they will be able to sell them. Considering that a sow can have two broods a year, in one year each family will have gained Francs 80,000 (i.e. Euro 94 or $124).

We have helped supporting 21 women, belonging to a cooperation group, in starting up a small corn production unit, by purchasing 2 milling machines.

The education system is developing: right now there are 2141 children attending the community's school. In that area, 100 new classrooms have been built, as well as 230 new lavatories.

The HUNGERFREE campaign, launched in 2009, has reached more than 10,000 people in the Ruheru, Murundi, Nyanza, Gitesi, Gisagara and Shingiro communities. In all these communities, courses on landrights and farming, violence against women and children's rights have been held.

Violence on women is an extremely sore point in these areas, but with some local awareness interventions, women who report violence cases to authorities are increasing: now the local police is receiving some 10 complaints/day and 100 women have already received legal assistance.

In the Ruheru's area, there is only a first-aid station that is located 5 kms from the village: it goes without saying that this is not enough: sick people cannot embark on such a long trip to be cured. Our support is also addressed to establish in Ruheru a first-aid station for urgent medical interventions.

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