Even though COVID-19 impacted all of us in one way or another, we still have some great highlights to share, thanks to God! While the pandemic and revolving lockdowns in countries put a pause on many activities and gatherings including our beloved Great Lakes of Africa Peace Camp, it is inspiring to see the dedication and determination of youth as they adapted to the challenges and continued to be peace catalysts at school (once reopened again) and in their communities.
Here are just a few highlights from the crazy COVID year we have endured with acts of love.
Congo Breakfast Club: We continue to support Vision Club (DRC) with the Breakfast Club for orphans. We are thankful that the children have not suffered illness due to COVID, however they were greatly impacted when the Mama/Director of the orphanage was hospitalized for other illness. We were so grateful to be able to step in with assistance, thanks to our supporters. In spite of lockdowns, Vision Club managed to visit several times during the year and bring gifts of food, clothing, masks and other support, in addition to the breakfast. We are very encouraged to see the young children’s health greatly improve with the nutritious porridge offered 2 times a week for over 134 children; during the Mama’s illness we increased to 3 times a week.
Rwanda: Akagera Peace Club celebrated their distribution of 40 pigs to help students from vulnerable families go to school. The club fundraised & contributed their own savings to make it happen! Due to their impact at school and in the community, club members were also selected by district officials to be community health advocates to assist in education & monitoring of the implementation of health practices to fight COVID in their area.
Burundi: Our affiliated peace club in Burundi – Burundian Heart of Charity – also continues to provide care and important materials like clothing, school uniforms and school bags to orphans and children in destitute families. They visited the neighborhood several times and cooked and shared a meal together.
New Club in Tanzania: Congrats to Happiness, a peace camp alumni and 2018 peace camp staff, for her initiative to start a club to support single young moms who often live with stigma & isolation in the community – some are abandoned by family or thrown out of the home. The peace club is a safe space where they can share problems & encourage each other. They also started a small savings fund.
New Club in Goma (DRC): Congrats to Mandela, 2019 peace camp participant, and his team of young leaders and volunteer teachers for their initiative and vision to start an English club to help local youth gain literacy and language skills for a potential step up in the competitive job environment and marketplace.
We saved some of our biggest news for last…
We were thrilled to officially launch Lion’s Bridge Café this past May in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda. The café is managed by Prince, director of APOL in Africa, and is part of our focus on youth entrepreneurship. The café offers youth internships in various aspects of hospitality, and unique new skills like barista training to gain an edge in employment. Although there were several extended shutdowns in Kigali, Prince and his café team adapted to offer take away & delivery. While it has been an incredibly challenging time to start a new business (coping with pandemic restrictions as well as Prince’s loss of house & belongings during torrential rains), we are thankful to God for protection and provision in the midst of it all. We are encouraged with progress made and look forward with hope and trust in God to the bigger vision of a camp site! The café is our first step in that direction and we’ve gained invaluable experience.
A glimpse of 2021: International youth peace zoom forum – we anticipate holding a virtual gathering several times a year to connect, mentor and train peace club leaders in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. We are also planning a leadership emphasis for peace camp (young leader’s summit) this summer in Rwanda to strengthen leadership & capacity of peace clubs. We welcome your prayers for these and other plans underway. May God lead and provide all that is needed. On behalf of all of the children & youth you support through this ministry, thanks so much. May God bless and refresh you!
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