Laura Nann visited a small community in Rwanda this year with Kageno, a non-profit organization that focuses on remote areas of the world in need of help, and works with them to build sustainable communities. Her experience is extremely inspiring, especially for anyone wanting to get involved hands-on with a charity making serious changes in the world.
Love and Water- How did you get involved with Kageno?
Laura Nann- My husband is good friends with Frank, the co-founder of Kageno, and is also on the board, so he had traveled with him to Kenya about two years ago. Frank loves to have people come with him so he invited us to go to Rwanda in July. They have four key areas that they focus on- business creation ventures, sustainable environmental solutions, education and health care. They help bring in clean water, they have a child sponsorship program, they build a school and a nursery and a community center. They’re objective is providing the tools necessary to create a more self-sustaining community. They work on helping them create crafts with local materials that they can then sell and use to sustain their own community. In Rwanda they’ve developed a paper book-making project, along with the basket weaving that they already do.
L&W- That’s awesome and amazing. What was your experience like there?
LN- Well we had been sponsoring a child for about a year and we got to meet him and his mom. It was ridiculous- his mom has HIV, and she was so overwhelmed with appreciation. The little boy was so adorable, he was four, and to see that he was getting the food and health care he needed everyday was really gratifying.
LN- You can do it monthly or yearly. It’s around $40.00 a month, which gives them food everyday, education, any health care needs throughout the year- whatever they need.
L&W- What else is going on in the community there?
LN- They have an agriculture project, so they’re getting the community involved in growing crops. So they’re growing their food and learning about how to make it work for them. They were going to build a fish farm as well, which would be an amazing food source for them. Kageno, in general, likes to find the most remote areas to help support. And this particular area is so remote, so it’s hard to get access to food. So by helping them build a sustainable system for their food is helping them immensely.
L&W- What was the most moving experience you had while there?
LN- Definitely meeting our sponsor child. But the other thing was going there and seeing that they’re really living in bad situations- very poor, and struggling- but they’re the happiest people. They were so excited to see us, they embraced us and are so excited and thrilled that we’re helping them. But they were happy already. Now they’re just happier.
L&W- What do the people do for work in this Rwandan community?
LN- The craft program helps them, and Kageno actually employs people in their community to help them build businesses. One project was making soap, and once they learn that it becomes their job. In Rwanda specifically, it was the development of the eco lodge, which would then employ so many people in that specific area.
L&W- So anyone can help by volunteering?
LN- Yes, anyone can offer their time or services and help in many different ways. When we went to Rwanda there were people living there for a year in order to implement the various programs in the community. Any service is of value as well- website design, anything that could help the organization further its development. And of course any donations help greatly, so they can apply them to the areas that need it most.
L&W- Have you seen the progress firsthand?
LN- When we went there it was amazing to see the progress they have made in the community. We saw drug stores stocked with drugs, fresh water- they used to drink out the the river that had gasoline running through it and now they have access to water whenever they want it. It’s just amazing to see how a community of 8,000 people has been impacted so positively. It blew my mind.
Visit Kageno here: http://www.kageno.org/