In 2007 April Riegler traveled to Rwanda for the first time and visited an orphanage full of amazing little girls and boys, all without parents, and some who are HIV-positive. April knew there was something she could do for them — add education, friendship, and mentoring to the basic necessities they were receiving.
These orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) were victims of the horrific genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people in 1994. April launched Hope Shines in 2008 with the goal of helping all Rwandan achieve their fullest potential by allowing them to fulfill their dreams and become leaders in their communities.
Through educational and health programs, Hope Shines is working to:
- Increase the number of students in the district who are able to attend school and reduce the district drop-out rate by subsidizing the costs to attend school by addressing health and educational needs (such as the need for feminine sanitary products for adolescent girls and the need for complementary educational support services, including tutoring)
- Support the youth in lifting themselves out of poverty through an educational model focused on empowerment, mentorship and career development
- Promote gender equity by creating an inclusive learning environment that integrates both girls and boys in its programming
Students get their basic needs for education covered, which include fees, uniforms, and supplies which helps keep them in school (the drop out rate is 0%)! The Hope Shines Summer Camp is lead by volunteer mentors from the U.S. and Rwanda and allows up to 150 children a full week curriculum that helps them develop life skills and challenges them in ways they don’t get from just attending school. The camp addresses food security by feeding the children lunch every day and each child that attends receives a medical check-up by a US doctor. Through interactive and hands on learning techniques, camp students participate in Science experiments, learn basic English, and are taught about first aid, nutrition, feminine and personal Hygiene, and malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention.
“One of the most meaningful aspects of camp is that we teach each student about the importance of giving back to their community through activities that show that even the needy and economically challenged can be contributors to their community. ” – April Riegler, Founder.
Today Rwanda is still striving to re-build it’s country and economy. Hope Shines is impacting the community by supporting Rwanda’s future – their children. The children that attend camp become leaders in their communities and families, forge ahead with healthy living and believe they can do anything they dream!
Why Bhakti Chai loves this project
Bhakti is passionate about organizations that are enhancing the lives of children. Hope Shines is focused on feeding the minds and bodies of children who struggle to eat and just attend school. We want to be part of their journey in supporting Rwandan youth and helping them to have a brighter future. You can learn more about Hope Shines and all their programs at www.hopeshines.org.