Geno­cide sur­vivors to speak in Vic­to­ria

Out­reach work of youth group help­ing chil­dren of Rawanda

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

Peo­ple of all ages are go­ing to rock the rafters of the Vic­to­ria United Church next month dur­ing the of­fi­cial kick off for the Shel­terThem 100 Days of Change Cam­paign fundraiser.

“It’s ac­tu­ally a youth rally, a very lively and up­beat ser­vice with lots of mu­sic and every­one is wel­come,” says Sherry Jenk­ins of West­ern Bay, who along with her hus­band Dave, su­per­vises the Vic­to­ria United Church Youth Group. “It’s be­ing held Fri­day April 3 at 7:30 pm.”

Guest speak­ers for the event are Rwan­dan geno­cide sur­vivors and twin sis­ters, Josephine Burku­ruMur­phy and Jo­ce­lyn Bu­toyi Alexan­dre, who now live in On­tario.

The two co-founded Shel­ter Them, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tual help to the street chil­dren of Rwanda.

The Shel­ter Them 100 Days of Change Cam­paign, which con­sists of col­lect­ing loose change in a jar, runs for 100 days (from April 6 to July 17) - the same dates that 800,000 Tutsi peo­ple were mas­sa­cred in Rwanda in April 1994 by groups of eth­nic Hutu.

As a re­sult of the Rwanda geno­cide sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand chil­dren were left or­phaned and home­less.

Josephine and Jo­ce­lyn’s broth­ers were among the men who went to fight against the geno­cide.

One of them, Jules, a ra­dio car­rier, was shot nu­mer­ous times and left for dead. How­ever when his friends re­turned to his body, to get the ra­dio, they found he was still breath­ing.They picked him up and car­ried him to a hospi­tal where he re­mained in a coma for three months.”

About 15 years ago, when the two were 19 years old, they im­mi­grated to Canada.

In Septem­ber 2005, the girls re­turned to Rwanda to in­tro­duce their husbands to their fam­ily. Over­whelmed with the dev­as­ta­tion that still ex­isted in the coun­try, as well as the num­ber of chil­dren that were left home­less, the two started the foun­da­tion Shel­ter Them.

Sherry and Dave saw the women

Shel­ter Them on a 100 Hunt­ley Street pro­gram last year talk­ing about their life and the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Moved by their story, the cou­ple, along with the Vic­to­ria United Church Youth Group, de­cided to host a fundraiser. Be­fore long the en­tire church con­gre­ga­tion was on board and peo­ple from the com­mu­nity and sur­round­ing area started do­nat­ing as well.

Last year’s Shel­ter Them 100 Days of Change Cam­paignin Vic­to­ria raised $10,000 used to buy food for the chil­dren of Rwanda.

The money was pre­sented to Josephine and Jo­ce­lyn last July dur­ing a Sun­day morn­ing ser­vice at the United Church in Vic­to­ria. This year the Vic­to­ria Youth Group hopes to raise enough money to turn a di­lap­i­dated build­ing into a cosy or­phan­age/home for at least 50 chil­dren.

“It’s cur­rently in re­ally bad shape,” says Sherry. “It needs a lot of re­pair work and main­te­nance.”

Sherry, Dave and Diane Bald­win, an­other mem­ber of the Vic­to­ria United Church, plan to travel to Rwanda to help out with the re­pairs.

“Jo­ce­lyn, Josephine and a few mem­bers of the Shel­ter Them team from On­tario are go­ing as well,” adds Sherry.

Dur­ing the April 3 Youth Rally en­ti­tled Love in ac­tionJosephine and Jo­ce­lyn will be up­dat­ing the con­gre­ga­tion on what their or­ga­ni­za­tion has been do­ing over the past year.

The sis­ters will also be speak­ing with stu­dents at Carbonear Col­le­giate, Per­salvic Ele­men­tary, Vic­to­ria and pos­si­bly Cabot Academy, West­ern Bay, on how they sur­vived the geno­cide.

“They’ve taken it upon them­selves to bring aware­ness to their or­ga­ni­za­tion and the con­di­tions many chil­dren in Rwanda are liv­ing in,” says Sherry. “They’re very in­spir­ing and their sto­ries are a great learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for our young peo­ple.”

About 25 young peo­ple, ages 11-15 at­tend the Vic­to­ria United Church Blast Offy­outh group, held Fri­day nights in the church base­ment.

“I be­lieve God is speak­ing di­rectly to this gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple,” says Sherry. “They’re the ones he will use to change the world.”

Along with hang­ing out and hav­ing fun mem­bers of the youth group are fo­cused on help­ing peo­ple in need.

Over the past year they have served at the soup kitchen on Ge­orge Street in St. John’s, vol­un­teered with the Bridges to Hope Food Aid Cen­tre and raked and shov­elled snow for se­niors in the area. They also did their part in the fight against world hunger by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Thirty Hour Famine

“We do a lot of out­reach work. We put love into action by mak­ing an ef­fort to al­ways help our neigh­bour,” says Sherry. “But it’s as im­por­tant for us to help and sup­port those around us as it is for us to help those in other coun­tries. Our neigh­bour could be some­one in an­other coun­try, an­other com­mu­nity or the per­son next door.”

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Sherry Jenk­ins

YOUTH RALLY - Twin sis­ters Josephine Burkuru-Mur­phy and Jo­ce­lyn Bu­toyi Alexan­dre, co-founders of the or­ga­ni­za­tion will be at Vic­to­ria United Church April 3 for a Youth Rally.

LABOUR OF LOVE - Mem­bers of the Vic­to­ria Youth Group ex­tend a help­ing hand to se­niors in the town by rak­ing leaves off their lawns. Along with hang­ing out and hav­ing fun, mem­bers of the youth group are fo­cused on help­ing peo­ple in need

HELP­ING OUT - From left Rod­ney Slade, Pa­trick Jayne and Mor­gan Clarke, mem­bers of the Vic­to­ria Youth Group, fill food ham­pers at the Bridges to Hope Food Aid Cen­ter in St. John’s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.