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Message from the Director’s Desk
Written by fra Ivica Perić

Fra Ivica PerićThe first group of the friars came to Rwanda in 1983. By the bishop they have been given Kivumu. At that time Kivumu was an out-station of Cheza Parish. In that group of the friars (five of them) was Vjeko Curic and former general of the Franciscan order fra Giacomo Bini. They have been working and living with the people of Kivumu and Rwanda in very “simple” and for the people acceptable way. They would go to dig with them, carrying water and firewood. The people are appreciating very much Franciscan way of doing in this way.

Kivumu parish is a very small parish with about 60 km2 and about 30000 populations in its boarders. The area is overpopulated especially if everybody has to live from his/her garden, and around 40-50% people do not have daily meal.

The friars especially Vjeko tried many ways to help these people to get more jobs and food in organizing different associations and groups like; bread baking, storing beans, sorgham, peas, opening shops for the groups etc.

The people here are very poor and very few are able to continue their studies in the secondary schools. In the surrounding area we do not have any secondary school and the young people have to go far for the schools. That means they have to stay in boarding sections and it does cost a lot and very few are able to afford that.

Before the massacre in Rwanda Vjeko had planed to build the secondary school in Kivumu. He was given land by the diocese. The massacre started and he was not able to fulfill that plan. After the genocide many Rwandans, who have been living outside Rwanda as refugees came back and Vjeko gave them that land so that they could settle in Rwanda. This means that now he did not have land to build the school.

After Vjeko's death the friars continued with the idea of helping the poor people of Kivumu. In 1999 they started the tailoring and building course for two years. From 1999-2001 they have been 40 students. For that time they used the catechumen classrooms and the present kitchen. In 2001, the second group was started - carpentry section, also. In this group they finished 37.

In September 2003 they have started with the third group with 42 students. At the end of the September I came to Kivumu and took over the school. We have worked to change the plan and program for the school to have more practice and give chance to take each year a new group. Now we do have 108 students in first and second year. We have got 10 teachers, 2 cooks and a watchman plus me.

In 2002 we have been given support by FRANZISKANER-MISSION (Hildegard Stocmann, Fr. Augustinus Diekmann Ofm, and Fr. Reinhard Kellerhoff Ofm.) From Dortmund and MISSIONSZENTRALE DER FRANZISKANER from Bonn, both from Germany. We have built 4 classrooms, 3 rooms for workshop, an office, and 4 stores. After that FRANZISKANER-MISSION continues to support us and we built another shelter (number of the students has increased) for the carpenters and builders. Also we did organize the kitchen for the students

In the school students were getting sick so often and we did not know what the reason was. After FRANZISKANER-MISSION gave us money for the food (for the students) it is very, rear to find a student sick and absent from the school. Many of them do not eat and that is the reason why they get sick. Many people of Kivumu are lucky if they have one meal a day. FANZISKANER-MISSION IS helping us a lot with food for the students, the parish and health centre for the children malnutrition.

This is a great help for the people of Kivumu and surrounding area but it is not enough. Still we have many young people who are around and do not have school to study. For the time being we are limited in taking the number of the students and a big number are looking for the possibilities to go to study in the secondary schools.

In Kivumu Parish we have got 3 primary schools with about 5000 students and each year many are finishing and do not have chance to continue.

Father Vjeko Center

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