Local charity aims to leave lasting impact on a Rwandan village

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COLUMBIA - Humanity for Children is raising money this holiday season for gifts that will leave a lasting impact on the community of Kibungo, Rwanda.

Kibungo is an African village roughly the same size as Fulton.

"These people although they live 8,000 miles away they really feel like neighbors," said Humanity for Children President Bob Hansen.

The "neighbors" the organization wants to help with gifts that keep on giving.

"One goal is that it has to be sustainable, that whatever good things we do, whatever improvements we make, don't leave when we leave. That they're not only there six days, six months, six years, that they are empowering to the community so that they are on going improvements," Hansen said.

A way they do this is providing gifts with a pay-it-forward attitude, said volunteer Kathryn Morgan.

"We work with our administrator there to identify families in need, and they get either a goat or a pig, and the first female offspring is then given to a different family in need," Morgan said.

This provides a more stable income for families that can affect other aspects of their lives said Hansen.

"Let's say they have six piglets, the first piglet goes to a neighbor who is also in high need. Then the other two might be saved so that now they have not just one female pig but three female pigs to breed. They can sell the other three at market, and with those funds they can send there kids to school, pay for uniforms, and pay for health fees," Hansen said.

Another gift they are raising funds for are solar power lamps for middle school students. Many students do not have any time to read or study until it is dark out. Kibungo is a village without electricity.

"A simple solar lamp costs about $12 or so, and has a solar panel on one side and a nice light on the other side. This can provide all the light a student needs to read, so a student needs to earn this by planting a fruit tree and taking care of it," Hansen said.

Morgan said visiting gave her one of the best gifts of all.

"The people that I've met are forever in my heart. They are so full of joy, and they wound up contributing much more to me than I ever have to them," Morgan said.

Another volunteer said there is another similarity Fulton and Kibungo have.

"I was struck by how we all have the same values. We care about our children, we care about having fun, and we care about our communities. I saw that over and over again," Kathy Ritter said.

Donations to provide these gifts for Kibungo can be made here.