September 20th was a day of hope for the Orphans of Rwanda. The Kuki Ndiho Rwandan Orphans Support Project organized an International Day of Peace Celebration Event, in collaboration with the Center for African Education at Columbia University.
The Honorable Joseph Makhandal Champagne, Mayor of the Borough of South Toms River, NJ was part of the celebration. Mr. Paulson Simeze, the President and CEO of Africa Synergy also graced us with his attendance. The event kicked off promptly at 7pm with prerecorded clips of Ms. Mukamabano and her work over the years helping the Orphans. Ms. Mukamabano gave opening remarks and with the help of a Preacher, led the room in a prayer.
We were then treated to various performances that embodied how connected we are in the world today in our search for peace regardless of where we are from. Among the performers were the Brooklyn born Hip Hop and R&B rap artist U’kno Tha Don
who performed the hit song “Runway” from his album. Ms. Tomoko is a Japanese singer about the importance of peace in our world. Her performance of “Promise” brought the audience to tears.
that also gave a brief speech
Ms Mukamabano shared with us why that song was her favorite. She talked about how during the Genocide she made a promise to God that if he helped her survive the ordeal she would dedicate her life to helping the children survivors. She has fulfilled and continues to fulfill that promise each and every day. She says that the first Sneakers Drive she organized for the Orphans made her realize “Yes I am doing it, I am keeping the promise that I made to God!”
The audience was also lucky to hear a performance by PIUS an Ugandan performer that had all of us on our feet and dancing along with him.
Also quite notable, and one of the highlights of the night, was the moving speech by Mayor Champagne. He really engaged the audience by talking about how horrible the Genocide was and how much the world needs peace today. He also broached the need for more change that has to come from the people and that we need to rely less on the United Nations and violent means. As he put it, “the presence of guns does not mean the absence of conflict”.
Another highlight was the brief but moving speech by Lehman College Professor Dr. Theresa Nona. “We have to stop killing each other ”, she said. “We all have to find a way of working together to make peace a reality to make this world safer for our children, that is the only way we will make it on this earth”. The mood of the night was uplifting, joyful, cheerful, and informative. We danced, we
prayed, we shared our experiences, and most importantly we all gave so much hope to the Orphans of Rwanda. The more people know about the Rwandan Orphans Support Project the more help the Orphans will get.Ms. Mukamabano kept the audience engaged like only she can.
The Kuki Ndiho/Why do i eixts? Foundation is infinitely grateful to the audience for their generosity. Most of the donations were monetary but Professor Dr. Theresa Nona of Lehman College donated toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouth rinse and lotions to the cause. Another member of the audience contributed his homemade hot sauce, which sold for ten dollars a bottle.
These examples went to show everyone that what mattered is that you give something, whether it be money, sneakers, or clothing, or your time by volunteering. Every little bit helps. The Kuki Ndiho Rwandan Orphans Support Project and Marie Claudine Mukamabano wish to take a brief moment to express their thanks to those that took the time to come out and celebrate this International Peace Day with us, on behalf of the Orphans of Rwanda.
A special thank you to all the students, from Columbia, Lehman College, Wisconsin St Leo University, City University, and Brooklyn College that took time out of their study schedules to come out and celebrate this peaceful day with Why do I exist?/Kuki Ndiho. A special thanks to our performers: U’kno That ,Ms. Tomoko, our dancer from Uganda, and the Australian Poet David “Ratsack” Mitsak who gave us a brief but very humorous poem reading.
Our thanks also extend to our speakers. Mayor Champagne who took the time to come express how much he cares for the cause.
Mr. Paulson Simeze, President and CEO of Africa Synergy, who spoke about how his organization encourages women to uplift themselves and become leaders in the world.
Finally, we are grateful to the models of the Africa Synergy organization that helped make the event a success.
We also extend our thanks to Mr. Wale Idris Ajibade, Executive Director of Africa Views.
Mr. Ajibade helped us record this memorable event so that we are able to share it in the future. Ms. Sylvie Yonkee or her time and efforts in helping organize and promote this celebration as well as our Volunteer Coordinator Peter.
We must not forget Mr. Evan Hendon the Program Coordinator at the Center for African Studies who helped us coordinate all issues and matters with the Center to make this event a success. For any further information about the Kuki Ndiho Foundation or any of our performers, please log on to www.kukindiho.org or www.whydoiexist.org On the Website, you can also learn how to be of help to the Orphans of Rwanda.
Let us remember that peace comes only when us as a people make it happen. We must change our world; make it a more peaceful place for our children.