Spotlight on Rwanda: Volunteer Opportunities with Harriet’s Acts of Hope Foundation

While traveling through Rwanda, we visited Red Rocks Rwanda for a cultural experience and met Founder Harriet Ingabire and Kathryn Gemmell.  We were impressed with Harriet’s vision to develop community support through tourism.

She founded Red Rocks and the Act of Hope Foundation to empower local women and help children through “support training, capacity building, environmental protection, nature conservation, and promotion of good practice.”

We learned about volunteer opportunities to live in Rwanda and help this organization.  At Acts of Hope they rely on passionate and hardworking volunteers who can offer their time and expertise to help grow their operations and support their local communities.

For details on how you can volunteer with Acts of Hope, email actsofhopeinfo@gmail.com 

Sharing some information from Red Rocks Rwanda, Acts of Hope (the sister NGO of the company through which most of the community work is done) below.

Acts of Hope Foundation and Red Rocks Rwanda

About Us – General

Acts of Hope is an NGO founded in 2014 and based in Rwanda and Uganda which works to empower local women and children. We aim to lift up those in our local rural area by providing them with new livelihood opportunities, teaching them new skills and forming them into groups so they can support each other and grow together, as a community.

We felt that it was important to work with women because they are often given less education than men, excluded from work opportunities in later life and are more likely to live in poverty. We work with children because we want to break the cycle of poverty for future generations and give our young people the brightest possible start in life. We work with 300 local women formed into five co-operative groups and we also fund a kindergarten of 200 young children.

We are a sister NGO of tourism organisation Red Rocks Rwanda which provides responsible and sustainable tourism. Some of our activities in Rwanda revolve around using the growing tourism sector to benefit our local communities by involving them in activities with guests. The women’s co-operatives run activities for guests at Red Rocks to teach others about our local culture and traditions, these include banana beer making, basket weaving, traditional singing and dancing and cookery classes. As well as this the co-operatives have other non-tourism orientated projects such as agriculture, flour making, bee keeping and tailoring. The diversity of their livelihoods protects them from the seasonality of tourism and helps them grow all year round.

The Acts of Hope Kindergarten is for children aged 2 to 6 whose families may not otherwise have been able to send them to school. We aim to give these children the best possible start in life so they can go on to succeed in their further education.

In 2019 we are expanding our operations to a second site in Kisoro, Uganda and will be working with local people in the community as well as opening a hostel and campsite for tourists.

Our Founder: Harriet Ingabire

Harriet is from the town of Kisoro in Uganda and is part of a large Rwandan family. Aged 18 she earned a scholarship Leroche University in Pittsburgh where she studied Psychology.

Inspired by her mother Teddy, who worked tirelessly to support those in need in her local community and fostered around 200 children in need, Harriet had always been passionate about the idea of helping the people from her home countries and as a child talked of ending poverty across Africa. Aware that not everyone can have the chances that she has had to be able have to come from a supportive family and get a good education, Harriet returned to Uganda and Rwanda after graduating to start on her goal of helping others. Collaborating with older foster brother Greg, the owner of Red Rocks Rwanda, Harriet started Acts of Hope within Red Rocks as a way of using tourism to boost community development.

The organisation started with a group of 20 women from the neighboring village who local leaders told Harriet were the most in need of help – single mothers, the ill or disabled and abuse survivors. Harriet visited and stayed with each woman, so she could experience their day to day life and see the challenges they face to try and provide for themselves and their families. Harriet formed the women into a co-operative and Acts of Hope was formed.

The Team

Acts of Hope has a small, dedicated staff and also relies on collaboration from visiting volunteers who contribute to our work.

Women’s Co-operatives – An Overview

Through Red Rocks Rwanda, Acts of Hope supports five women’s co-operatives comprising of around 300 women all based in the local area around our base at Red Rocks Rwanda. Each co-operative has a president, secretary and treasurer and decisions are made democratically by the whole group. When the group earns money from activities, some is paid to members of the group and the rest is saved collectively so that the group can reinvest the funds into new projects and investments.

The women have found that the collective structure of the group gives them confidence to grow and try new things. They are also able to support each other as often they have been through similar things. The goal of the co-operatives is for them to ultimately become self-sufficient and not dependent on us for their growth, although Acts of Hope will always be there for help and guidance.

Community Kindergarten

In 2018 Acts of Hope began funding a Kindergarten for 200 children aged 2 to 6 whose families may not otherwise have been able to send them to school. While primary education in Rwanda is free, the children must have uniforms and shoes to be allowed to attend and unfortunately for some this cost is too much to afford. However, we believe that all children have the right to an education and that we have a responsibility to raise up the poorest in our community. At the Acts of Hope Kindergarten, the uniforms, shoes, books and teachers are all funded by Red Rocks Initiatives and not the children’s families. The children are also provided with meals throughout the day and there is a team of community volunteers who help to cook, clean and look after the children.

Volunteering Opportunities

At Acts of Hope we rely on passionate and hardworking volunteers who can offer us some of their time and expertise to help us grow our operations and support our local communities.

Community Kindergarten – At our kindergarten in Musanze, Rwanda for the 200 children there are only three teachers and the head mistress. We are looking for volunteers to help with childcare and early years education who can come and lend a hand and help these children learn and grow.

Women’s Co-operatives – The women we work with are always enthusiastic to learn new things to help them generate income, develop and better their lives and we would welcome any volunteers who can teach them helpful skills, for example:

  • English language skills to better interact with guests during activities
  • Tailoring to be able to make clothes for themselves and for selling to others
  • First Aid skills as many live some distance to a hospital
  • New farming methods which would allow then grow more or new crops
  • Craft skills which would allow them to make souvenirs for guests
  • We are open to any suggestions if you feel you have skills and knowledge which would further our co-operatives.

General Opportunities – As we have a small team at Red Rocks Initiatives, we rely on people who can offer us any general help in our day to day activities which will help further our work. We would welcome volunteers with experience in marketing, promotion, web design, social media, video editing, photography or any other skills which you feel could help us as we strive to help others.

We have comfortable accommodation in both of our locations will all of the comforts and amenities volunteers need to relax and feel at home at the end of a working day. We offer our volunteers a very reasonable discounted rate to stay and eat with us while they work.

For details on how you can volunteer with Acts of Hope, email actsofhopeinfo@gmail.com

Have questions? Contact us at :
info@globaladventuress.com

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