Stephanie Tell Public Relations, Ignite Marketing Co. 360.710.4439 firstname.lastname@example.orgAndrew Jenkins Public Relations, Ignite Marketing Co. 408.603.0016 email@example.com
College Students to Host Banquet Fundraiser Event for Rwanda
at Hyatt Regency in Bellevue
On November 7th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s Grand Ballroom in Bellevue, a group of college students from a small liberal arts school in Kirkland will host Restoring Rwanda, an Itafari Foundation pay-it-forward fundraiser event. The students were given 10 weeks to plan and execute the event, and, in partnership with the Itafari Foundation, are well on their way to pulling it off.
The college students chose to partner with the Itafari Foundation because of its enthusiastic concern for and skill in meeting identified needs of the people of Rwanda. Itafari is a not-for-profit founded by Victoria Trabosh, of Portland, Oregon, to help the people of Rwanda rebuild their country by supporting widows and orphans of the genocide through education, entrepreneurial financing and training, child sponsorship, goat-rearing programs, and school construction.
As a class project, the students decided to put together Restoring Rwanda, an elegant, banquet-style fundraiser to help raise money for the foundation’s efforts. Currently the students have booked the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bellevue and planned an evening meal, various speakers (including Mrs. Trabosh), and silent auction for 150 donors. The doors open at 5:30pm and the event will begin at 6pm on November 7th, 2008. Next, the students will focus on ticket sales and securing corporate sponsorships. They have 4 weeks left.
For additional information regarding Restoring Rwanda, please contact Stephanie Tell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Andrew Jenkins at email@example.com. For additional information regarding the Itafari Foundation, please visit www.itafari.org. To secure tickets for Restoring Rwanda, please visit www.iamincorp.com/itafari.
ABOUT IGNITE MARKETING CO. – Ignite Marketing Co. was formed solely for the purpose of planning and executing Restoring Rwanda in partnership with the Itafari Foundation. It consists of and is operated by 27 college students in a Marketing Theory class at Northwest University in Kirkland.
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Have you ever wanted to hold a party for 140 children? In a foreign country? With children who speak little English but desperately want to believe in you and how you can help them?
Then come to Rwanda and meet our sponsored children! Children of little to no resources, often orphaned, desirous of a better life and willing to trust you will keep your word and support them.
When we began our child sponsorship program just over 2 years ago, I hoped we could find 25 people willing to sponsor a child for $25/mo for 12 months.
In over two years we have NOT found 25 people….WE HAVE FOUND OVER 170! People are so generous – and have committed to this project. Not all can continue after one year but we have an extremely high retention rate of donors.
Some of the children’s stories are heartbreaking – some breathtaking – all deeply affected by the generosity of a stranger.
The report cards, letters, words of wisdom shared by the donors and the money are all part of the ability to save and change lives.
And then there’s the party! Who doesn’t love to party!!??
The air was electric as Sara and I were joined by Lauren, an American who I met while on my 53 hour trek from Portland to Rwanda.
After greeting the kids, we introduced Sara and Lauren.
We sang the wildly popular “some sailors went to the sea sea sea” song (with hand motions),
interviewed many of the children to send back personal messages, gave some of the children gifts sent with me by their sponsors (including a bike promised a year ago for good grades –
J. Paul almost cried!) ,
fed them incredibly large plates of food,
talked with them about writing to their sponsors and handed out a little bag of goodies which included toothbrushes, pens from Umpqua Bank, pencils, little toys, candy and TWIZZLERS (red licorice)
The kids had never seen licorice and had no idea what to do with it until I popped a piece into my mouth. Enough said!
We also played the Itafari game: Lauren or Sara stood with their back to the kids and the kids chose one side of the room or the other to guess which hand she would raise. Until we got down to two kids and the winner would get a gift.
LIKE THE EVER POPULAR WHOOPIE CUSHION!! The party took seven hours, all of our energy and yet we walked away knowing that to honor these children was to honor all children. That a party whose purpose was to bring joy and laughter was a significant way to spend the day. And that our efforts today will help change the face of Rwanda in the future.
We don’t have the children who need sponsors shown on the website. We bring the books with their pictures and stories to our Pay it Forward events.
If you’re interested in sponsoring a child and can commit to $25/mo for 12 months, please contact me.
Or hold an event for Itafari. A Pay It Forward. Another party with a purpose. We come to you and are happy to travel - just talk to us and tell us what you’d like to do.
To our child sponsors: this party was your party.
Truly your heart would burst with joy at what you have given to them. For the children I say murakoze cyane cyane!
In a world gone slightly mad I find a constant that does not change: hope and healing. Being in Rwanda during the world’s financial crisis is a bit comforting. The worries and fears that are riveting the world, are less so in my work in Rwanda. It’s like being on a vacation, or when I was at University. It’s buffered. And that is not a bad thing. Because in spite of the problems which will affect me financially and personally, good work is going on. The good work of our donors is continuing. Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point:
A CAMP - A FIRE - A PURPOSE
Last year I visited the ex-child combatants (see blog dated October 20 2007 - When a Child is No Longer a Child). In it I described the problem of children (7-16) years old being forced to become soldiers in the Congo along the border of Rwanda. Can you imagine? But it’s not necessary to try. Because it is not about the atrocity of war or the exploitation of children. It is about the hope they have, the healing that is taking place, and the reintegration of these boy soldiers back into their communities. It is about the the belief that the past in not the future.
Last year I vowed to return to the camp of healing and prepare a meal for the children. And late last week that vow became a reality. Sara Oberdorf and I left Kigali with 10kg (22 pounds) of a combination of minced ihene (ground goat) and minced beef. 10 kg of spaghetti; 6 cans of tomato paste; 50 kg of tomato sauce; vegetables;spices carried from the US; AND oranges, candy, cheese, eggs, bread, cheese graters, ladles, spaghetti tongs, ice chest, and enough miscellaneous items to insure our campfire meal of spaghetti and meatballs would be a raging success!
Five of the children were chosen to be aspiring chefs for the day. We began by discussing hygiene and using the kitchen disinfectant spray to clean our hands and our work area. That was a big hit. Sara who is a US scientist living in London studying infectious diseases discussed unseen bacteria and the need to keep ourselves and all work areas spotless. The children were focused and learning.
Did I mention this is taking place in a large shelter with only a table, some huge pots and a raging smoky fire in the background?
After the cleanliness lesson we began our mise en place of our ingredients. Then the boys began to carefully chop the vegetables, pore the sauce into the HUGE pots, prepare the meatballs, begin to fry them on another raging fire and stir like crazy because MAMA Itafari (yours truly) was giving them multiply warnings NOT to burn anything. This is all taking place on wet wood with water oozing out the ends of the firewood causing enough smoke to can and smoke all the salmon in Oregon!
As we were literally in the ‘thick’ of it, all smoky, all working hard, all anticipating a great meal, we worked as a team for 4 hours. The meatballs were sticking to the bottom of the pan and so I made the executive chef’s decision to turn the sauce into a bolgenese and prayed the eggs, bread, cheese, etc of the meatballs would be delicious in this new recipe. Of course there is also the issue of cooking 22 pounds of spaghetti….that was a challenge. I will never again mind cooking anything on my gas stove with controllable heat…
As we progressed, the miraculous happened: a meal began to emerge! Five large baguettes were cut. These huge pots were carried to the area where 42 boys + staff + curious onlookers awaited. (the camp chef, an older wiser man was a bit perplexed by these activies in HIS kitchen - a lot of head shaking and laughing on his part). We served huge portions to the kids.
Such an unexpected meal - and they ate a lot - once the first one came back for seconds, a great portion of the kids followed suit! My heart was made glad! Then they danced. As only they can dance. With joy. With abandon. With grace and beauty. It was their
way of showing their appreciation.
Our Jr. Chefs couldn’t believe what they called our ’sacrifice’. But it of course was no sacrifice but an honor to serve them. Food heals. Love heals. And there was a lot of love in this food. We told them about the goat program we will establish in their camp that that will be incorporated into our existing program. To teach them a skill so that when they leave the camp, those who are interested in animal farming will have a marketable skill and will be able to incorporated them into our existing child cooperatives.
MAMA Itafari made too much sauce but just about the right amount of spagetti. The meal was ended with fresh oranges and candy. And many cheers of thanks. As we left, I was concerned that our additional sauce would go to waste (no refrigeration at the camp). But Ally the Director of the camp called later and said they pored the remaining sauce over the beans and rice (their usual fare) that evening for dinner and the boys were ecstatic. And he laughed and said they couldn’t quit dancing.
How hard was that? Not at all. Just challenging. But comparitively speaking, to their life and challenge, it was nothing. And perspective is everything.
Thanks to Jo Smith who accompanied me last year on the Tour of Hope and gave generously for this meal. The future does belong to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. And the children are always a wonderful reminder of how little it takes to make a great difference in the world.
How little is little? $25 will buy one goat (which will not be minced!) to give to a child in one of our cooperatives. Don’t resist the urge to make a difference. Go to Itafari.org and donate.
Murakoze and Bon appetit!
I have never worked in a place where I am as equally passionate about the friendships I have formed and the work I do.
That is Rwanda: there is a passion; an intensity; a hope in people that I rarely experience on a daily basis as I do every time I am here.
I arrived on Tuesday. It is now Sunday and everything is falling into place.
Sara Oberdorf arrived on Wednesday from London. She walked off the plane and I liked her immediately. She comes to all the meetings and observes and learns about Itafari and our work. She connects so easily with everyone she meets. It is a true pleasure getting to know her. She enhances this experience for me even more and her insight is invaluable.
We met with RARDA (handles livestock issues within the government) to work on our partnership for our ihene (goat) project for Child Headed Household (CHH) cooperatives.
Great news: more S. African Billy Goats on the way! We talked about possibilities. That one day our CHH cooperatives could export their high end goat meat to markets around the world. And will call the meat RIA (RARDA/ITAFARI/ASSIST) after the three organizations that are making this project possible. RIA goat meat will be exported to the best restaurants in the world: The children of Rwanda will be the catalysts, the inspiration; the beneficiary. But that’s down the road: part of the bigger picture. And the bigger picture includes empowerment, inspiration, perspiration and results.
Photo caption: Jean-Paul a 21 year old CHH showing off his new ihene enclosure, roof to be added soon.
Hungry to help children who will succeed with our support? To buy goats, go to the donate section of the website or mail a check to the address listed on the itafari.org website.
Making a difference is always possible.
It is good to be back in Rwanda. And it only took 53 hours to get here! New record for me. A flight delay at Washington DC Dulles meant that it took an EXTRA 24 hours to reach Kigali. But though I arrived a day late, it was to the smiling faces of those I know better than some of my friends in the US.
Together we are so hopeful of what the next three weeks will bring. In spite of obstacles.
The obstacles of a language barrier; cultural differences; life experiences; the US financial crisis; overwhelming need, limited time to complete tasks while here; multiply priorities and juggling of meetings. And yet. It is Rwanda – a place where people choose not to be identified by the genocide but by the strength and resilience of its people.
For me, and those who have come to know and believe that an ordinary person can make an extraordinary difference, the obstacles are easily outweighed by the results of what we have done. By what we choose to believe is possible.
In the short term, I believed that my two suitcases of 60+ pounds each filled with gifts and items for our 171 sponsored children and others would arrive in tact and on time. (check) That a trip of 53 hours could be an adventure which would allow me to connect with fellow travelers from around the world equally dismayed but also on their own journeys and willing to find hope even in challenging conditions. (check) That laughter and moments of kindness are everywhere even in difficult circumstances. (check) That my Kinyarwanda could comfort a 71 year old Rwandan Mama at Dulles airport who spoke less English than I speak Kinyarwanda (not easily done) – and yet reaching out to her gave us both a moment in time where a true friendship was born.(check)
In the long term, that in just over three years thousands of lives have been affected by the donors of Itafari.(check) Literally, lives of children have been saved and improved through the programs that Itafari serves.(check) Many of today’s children will become future leaders of this country and remember the part Itafari played in their journey to their own personal greatness (future check) That as I watch our financial crisis unfolding and politicians and a public unsure of what our future holds, I know it will be ok and made better by our efforts when we seek to improve the circumstances of those less fortunate. (resounding check)
This is a very rough period for America. And yet. We should be defined not by our present circumstances but by the strength and resilience of the American people. We can make a difference in spite of the present moment or obstacle.
That is what I intend to do here on behalf of Itafari and our donors. Make a difference – for the donor, the beneficiary, and the programs we support. Reach out to people asking for a hand – not a handout. And bring back the stories of success and accomplishment that Itafari has participated in through the generous donation of people who give in spite of their obstacles.
Thank you to those who have given from my last email. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference in Rwanda. $100 or any amount goes a tremendous way. And an act of kindness and generosity to others is returned to you tenfold.
Please write to me with any questions. I’m happy to respond personally – it may take a bit due to the time difference. (NINE HOURS AHEAD OF PST) Unless of course you write in the next day or so….jet lag may have me up and responding in the wee hours as my body clock argues that it is NOT time to sleep but indeed time to work! (kind of like now). I’m writing this at midnight on 30 September because I’m UP! Will be posted tomorrow.
In the meantime remember what we who work through Itafari always say and believe: Do what you can. Where you are. With what you have. In the time you have left.
And that is enough. Murakoze cyane again for your support. You create hope, belief that a stranger’s kindness change a life, joy in the people you generously give to, and permanently change lives through the opportunity provided by you.
And that’s a good day, no matter the obstacles.