In 2013, when President Paul Kagame met Rwandan diaspora in Toronto-Canada, two female Rwandan twins- Jocelyne Alexandre and Josephine Murphy, stood up to ask the President a question.
As a fully-packed hall waited to hear from the youthful twins, Jocelyne started her speech with an amazing project the two wanted to President Kagame.
Jocelyne, flanked by her twin sister Josephine, told the President about their project to build houses back home which would shelter Rwandan orphans.
With initial capital of $80,000, however, Jocelyne told the President that their challenge was to get land where they would start constructing houses for the orphans.
“Mr. President, our kids deserve to stay in homes not orphanages. We asked many times the government of Rwanda…we probably did not go to the right source but I am sure that you are,” Jocelyne said amidst applause from the audience.
The two asked the President and his government to provide land so that they can go and start building homes for the orphans.
President Kagame did not hesitate. Terming their request as ‘simple’, he directed them to Francis Gatare, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board and concerned local authorities to help them get land.
Dream come true
Four years later today, Jocelyne and Josephine celebrated their dream. Through ‘Shelter Them’- a Non-Governmental Organization they founded, the two sisters were granted 5hectares of land in Nyarugenge sector, Bugesera district-thanks to President Kagame’s intervention.
With excitement, Jocelyne said, “We are here to visit our children and see how they are doing as we are planning a brighter future for them. We are also preceding the land registration so that we start building homes for them.”
Their target is to build 10 houses with a vocational school to support government policy of self-sufficiency and job creation.
“We don’t want to build orphanages; we want to build homes because our kids deserve to be in homes,” Josephine said.
Survivors of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, the two female Rwandans currently living in Canada said their first visit to Rwanda was a decade ago, when they encountered street children living in bad life condition.
When they returned to Canada, the two reflected on their own journey and the hardships they witnessed in Rwanda and began mobilizing their friends and community members to begin the first child poverty alleviation activities that ultimately gave rise to ‘Shelter Them’ in 2005.
Currently, many of the children sponsored by ‘Shelter them’ are orphans or children abandoned by their families.
The organization helps get them off the streets to receive the basics of life through sponsorships. After registering the land, Shelter Them will start construction activities without further delays.