Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Inspiring Hour with Rafiki of Rwanda

Rafiki Callixte described his family as a "soccer team." 

"There were 11 of us," he told the audience. But after the genocide in Rwanda, just 8 survived. At the Firelight Foundation's open house on Tuesday, November 16, in Santa Cruz, California, I was riveted by the hour-long talk by Rafiki Callixte, project manager for Rwandan grantee-partner Les Enfants de Dieu ("Children of God"). He spoke passionately about his process of forgiveness and subsequently devoting his life to helping street children in Kigali.

Rafiki talked about the youth-focused programs he manages at Les Enfants that empower children living on the street to become self-sufficient and to be reintegrated into their communities and families. He explained that often parents did not want their children back because they simply could not afford to raise them or did not have the space to house them. He spoke with humor and compassion.

 A survivor of the 1994 genocide, Rafiki chose to forgive those who had caused him and his family immense suffering. "Forgiveness is the champion of healing," he said. Through forgiveness and helping others in need, Rafiki is working toward his goal of changing the world around him, one child at a time.

Rafiki and his staff give children living on the street hope by showing them that they are worthwhile. Les Enfants provides short-term shelter for more than 100 boys, equipping them with literacy and vocational skills while working to identify biological or foster families for them. Rafiki says, "We are empowering youth so they can become peace-builders and change-makers." He refers girls to a different program.

The Firelight Foundation was one of the first sources of funding for Les Enfants. The evening concluded on a high note with a $6,000 check presented to Rafiki from the Firelight Foundation.

Les Enfants de Dieu owns and runs a residential care center in Ndera, a suburb in Kigali near the international airport. The center is situated on over 4 hectares of land, mainly in the valley.
Currently, there are 117 former street boys aged between 7 and 18.

Contact info:
B.P.616 Kigali, Rwanda

E-mail: info@enfantsdedieu.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone: (250) 520 663
Fax: (250) 574 290