Bye Bye Boston, Hello Kigezi
Grace Villa, Kigezi.

Bye Bye Boston, Hello Kigezi


From Boston to the beautiful hills of Kigezi, Ruth Bahika's GRACE VILLA - a nurturing safe haven for vulnerable girls. "You're safely home".

Please go to the link below and vote for Grace Villa Kabale a new home for girls.
http://oxfamamerica.maker.good.is/projects/safelyhome

By Apolo K. Ndyabahika
more from author >>
First published: March 26, 2012


Please go to the link below and vote for Grace Villa Kabale a new home for girls.
http://oxfamamerica.maker.good.is/projects/safelyhome


Born in the USA to Ugandan parents, Ruth and her big brother Apolo spent most of her childhood traveling abroad as their parents attended universities in the USA and Aberdeen, Scotland, and worked in Kenya and Uganda. Baby sister Rachelle came along much later. Ruth went to a grand total of seven primary schools and four high schools! Both parents pursued PhD’s and attended Ivy League Universities and are Canonized Anglican Priests. Her mother trail blazed as the first woman (along with two other brave women) to be ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Uganda, and the entire Anglican Communion in Africa!


Ruth Ndyabahika
Ruth Ndyabahika

It turns out Ruth inherited her parents’ three passions: education, compassion for humanity and the value of family and relationships. “I went through life watching my parents selflessly put their congregations, humanity and their children/family first. This great legacy helped define and shape me into the person that I am today”. Growing up in so many starkly different environments gave Ruth a clear picture of her path in life: Reaching out to children who do not have the same loving home and opportunities that we often take for granted. She studied Early Childhood Development and Psychology at Wheelock College, Massachusetts and has lived and worked in Boston since 1992. Ruth’s passion took her to Northern Uganda where she is an advocate for the children of the LRA war. With the combined efforts of others who shared her zeal, she persistently marched on the streets of Boston, camped in New York, spoke at Universities and High Schools and lobbied on Capital Hill in DC, focusing on the plight of the then night commuters and abducted children of Northern Uganda. A significant breakthrough came a year ago when President Obama signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into law. The focus has now shifted to raising awareness and funds towards the daunting rehabilitation process. Ruth was officially recognized and received a letter of commendation from the late Senator Edward Kennedy for her outstanding contribution towards the effort. “This was an awakening period for me” says Ruth. “Quite a challenge. I saw first hand how the incessant, combined efforts of likeminded individuals, regardless of age or background, can make a positive difference and achieve the near impossible”.

Through time and experiences, Ruth added one more to her list of passions: Uganda. Her love for her motherland is tangible through the way she immerses herself in community development efforts. In her home state of Massachusetts and beyond, Ruth has made a solid name for herself as a tireless Ugandan community leader, bringing people together by spearheading events such as town hall meetings at which information pertaining Uganda is deciphered to the public, Fundraisers, a Tribute to the Kasubi Tombs last year, and hosted a very successful ICOB-Boston convention in August 2010.

Last year, Ruth was elected as the youngest Vice President of the prominent International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), and as Chair of their local Boston Chapter. ICOB is an organization with a mission to advance the Cultural, Social and Economic interests of Banyakigezi in the Diaspora. Through its Kigezi Education Fund (KEF), ICOB supports vocational, business and technical training of young Banyakigezi and now has two centers of excellence in education in Rukungiri and Kanungu. Similar projects are planned for Kisoro and Kabale.

Rachelle Ndyabahika
Baby sister Rachelle Ndyabahika

We caught up with this budding philanthropist at Shriners Burn Center for Children in Boston, with her little ward Vastinah. Vastinah is a student of Nyaka, a wonderful school for orphans deep in Nyakagyezi village, Rukungiri. Vastinah's entire upper body got burnt as a child and is now severely scarred, which makes her skin so tight that simple movements like smiling and closing her eyelids to sleep are grueling tasks. Through Nyaka, she came to live with Ruth 6 months ago as she undergoes reconstructive surgery at Shriners. Ruth refuses praise for taking care of Vastinah, which must be an arduous task with constant care, hospital stays, changing bandages and keeping up with her education. "This is our baby! A child of Uganda. She's so smart and sweet, I'm loving every minute of having her with me".

Turns out, this has been good practice for Ruth. She left her modern city loft in Boston for her next venture in the hills of Kigezi where she is the Founder and Director of Grace Villa, a new home for girls. Here, 20 girls aged 3 to 18 found living on the margin of society are brought into a loving home environment and their young lives rebuilt with care, a stellar education, nutrition, therapy, social and medical attention. Just as important, each girl is prepped for autonomy by tapping into her unique strengths and gifts such as IT, carpentry, tailoring, sports, music, baking, bee keeping and horticulture. As a cross cultural child development specialist, Ruth’s philosophy is: While reading books and doing math’s are vital, equally important is the individual who is reading the books and doing the math’s. “Giving each girl a chance to rise above her past and environment, to reach her full potential and become a patriotic future leader of enduring change. That’s the important task we have been entrusted with”.

Rev. Canon Grace N. Ndyabahika
Rev. Canon Grace N. Ndyabahika

You may reach the Founder and Director of Grace Villa Ruth Bahika at the contacts below, you may also support Grace Villa by going to their website (noted below) and voting for them in the Oxfam America challenge at http://oxfamamerica.maker.good.is/projects/safelyhome

Grace Villa, Kabale Phone: USA: 617-905-5674 ¦ Uganda: +256-772-587591
www.anewhomeforgirls.org

...for upon our children rests the fate of tomorrows world

By Apolo K. Ndyabahika
more from author >>
First published: March 26, 2012

Apolo K. Ndyabahika
Apolo K. Ndyabahika

Please go to the link below and vote for Grace Villa Kabale a new home for girls.
http://oxfamamerica.maker.good.is/projects/safelyhome