My time at SACCA by Karen Landi I am not sure where to begin, so I guess, as the song suggests, All start at the very beginning as its the best place to start!. The wheels of my adventure started to turn when Damian, my husband and our children James and Amy, decided to join a friend of ours in fund raising for a charity that was very close to her heart.
Her name is Kim Rezel, the event was a tough Mudder and the charity was SACCA. She told us more of her time sent in Rwanda, and I made a throw away comment something like love to do something like that! Well, why done I had no excuses. Work agreed to give me an unpaid sabbatical, Damian is always supportive of me and my mad ideas and the kids were glad I wouldn’t be nagging them for 3 months! So, I e-mailed a certain lady, who has since become my great friend. Her name is Valentine and she is the Director of SACCA. She was happy for me to come and we both felt a positive connection when we met in cold, wet London towards the end of 2014. So, on 3rd January 2015 I boarded a flight to Rwanda. It was pretty difficult to leave my family and friends, but as Damian said, I am only 1 car, 2 planes and 1 train away from home at any time!! I was warmly welcomed into the SACCA fold and began my new role as a teacher. We covered topics such as HIV, AIDS, family planning, inner beauty and self esteem, rabbit care, nutrition and many first aid topics.
The children and young adults were so warm and welcoming, I guess they all have a pretty good understanding about the difficulties of being apart from your family. I learnt about the great work that SACCA does, in often difficult situations. Their aim is to care for children, who through many various circumstances have found themselves trying to survive by living and begging on the streets of Rwanda. SACCA has various programmes in place, the most important of which are prevention, protection and re-integration. They are also involved in providing vocational training to young adults, enabling them to have a means of providing a sustainable income. It has been a pleasure to work with this small team of Social workers and support workers. They are currently caring for 34 boys, 24 girls, 400 re-integrated children and have successfully helped 1,600 children and their families. They are also currently supporting 100 young people with vocational training – night guards, house keepers, gardeners and sewing/knitting. I loved my 10 weeks in Kayonza and Kabarondo. I met some amazing people from both Rwanda, Canada and the USA and have many new friends. I was so glad that Damian, James and Amy could visit and see for themselves! It was great to share my family and experiences. My mission now, with the support of my friends and families is to continue to support SACCA, by offering friendship and fund raising. The plan is to build a Social work office and girls centre on land already owned by SACCA. I would love to help this become a reality. Damian and I also plan to return next year. I can’t wait.
Recently SACCA have been lucky to have visitors and volunteers from around the world. In January Jaclyn and Avis visited us from Canada. Jaclyn taught health promotion, along with Karen, a nurse visiting from the UK. Topics included HIV, sanitation, puberty and body changes as well as family planning. Many thanks to our Canadian friends for providing re-usable sanitary kits for the older girls and younger women who are currently being supported by SACCA.
Avis taught some traditional Haida and Kwakwakwawakw songs and crafts. The children at both the centre in Kabarondo and the girls at Kayonza enjoyed the singing immensely and can still be heard singing the tradition songs as they do their chores!!
Avis also introduced weaving using cedar bark, a tradition Canadian craft using traditional Canadian materials. The girls really engaged with this activity and picked up the skills required very quickly and made some beautiful bracelets and mats. Both singing and weaving tie in very well with Rwandan culture and it is hoped that a weaving project will be started with the help of Serafine, a local woman who is very skilled in tradition Rwandan weaving. Avis and Jaclyn are currently fund-raising in Canada to ensure this project happens.
In early February Karen’s family came to visit from the UK and brought with them items to help support the children at SACCA, including donated clothes, underwear, games, pens, pencils. Many thanks to Duncan Milroy of Streets Ahead Rwanda, SACCA’s partner in the UK and friends of the Landi family for your generous donations.
February SACCA was also happy to greet a long time supporter, Ida Abels from The Netherlands. Ida has provided support to SACCA for many years in many ways since its foundation in 2003, including fundraising and financial support. Her efforts have provided SACCA with a vehicle and knitting machines amongst others, but also importantly she has offered support and friendship as well as teaching handicrafts. We are always very happy to see her and thank her for taking the time to visit us. We look forward to seeing her again next year.