We met Grace Kantengwa, who told us about Inshuti Italia-Rwanda Onlus Association of which she is the President.
Inshuti is the translation into Kinyarwanda of the word “friends” and she told us that this name is a way to say thanks to all those friends who had the opportunity to meet Xlestrade she walked through.
The association Inshuti Onlus was officially founded on May 19th, 2007 in Tradate, a town near Varese, by her and a group of her friends, who have already been operating in an informal way.
She wanted to tell how much of the activities that the association is working on, accrued on the basis of her personal experiences.
Grace, born in Rwanda, grew up as a child in the refugee camps of Uganda, a land that has hosted her and her family in a time of war and internal strife in her country of origin.
He told us about the difficulties she met in Uganda in going to school due to the refusal of her parents, the unfriendliness of the clan-chiefs of the village in which she lived and the traditions that, between the late 60 ‘s and the beginning of 70’s, in Africa brought a young girl to be destined to marry early and to work in the kitchen and for the maintenance of her future family.
But she wanted to study and, through numerous sacrifices and obstacles, she was able to attend school, both elementary and higher education, resulting, over time, even the best in the class.
Subsequently, thanks to the help of a Comboni missionary priest, she could reach Italy in 1975 at the age of 19 years, in Bergamo, where she continued her studies at the catering institute. She also lived a year in England, in order to study English, before returning to Italy and settle in Tradate, currently working as OSS at Ospedale di Circolo Varese.
She had the opportunity, for the first time in 1995, to go to Rwanda, her native land, in which the genocide of 1994 had just finished, realizing that the situation was really crtitical. She decided to take action to help children, especially Rwandans girls, to go to school and be able to study so that they might not suffer what she had suffered.
She started firstly alone, then through time, with the help of some friends, to raise funds for school support at a distance.
Currently Inshuti Onlus has 270 active adoptions, especially in the areas of Rubagabaga (Mutara), Vunga, Rwamagana, Kayonza, Rukore in Gahini.
They also activated micro-credit projects in order to help the local parents of these children, to create their own business. Some kids, thanks to some benefactors, have also been supported in their college expenses.
An important project was then the construction of a primary school in the village of Rukore, thanks to the help received from the family Albonetti Alessandro of La Spezia, which has been named in memory.
The main principle is that education makes a person free, while not being educated leads her to be a slave.
During our visit we had the opportunity to watch a video, a presentation of a major project to which Inshuti Onlus is now working on and for which is looking for economic resources, that is to say the construction of a large catering school of international standard near Kayonza, in the east of Rwanda. The center should accept, once completed, a training school, a hotel, a restaurant, a room used as a conference center and a guest house for teachers and students.
In Italy, they organize events and fundraising as well as having built relationships with the catering school of San Pellegrino Terme (BG), in order to promote the exchange of experiences and knowledge between Italy and Rwanda.
Thanks to the aid financed by the Aurum Celesta association of Casorate Sempione (VA), 2 Ultrasound machines have been donated to the Hospital of Kiziguro.
Grace told us that it is possible for anyone to make a contribution to the activities of the association, both through the distance adoption of a child, and through a concrete aid in the organization of events.
Finally, they are available to provide support in letting know the reality in Rwanda to those who would like to help directly in Rwanda.
Finally we asked Grace to leave us her personal message.
The message of Inshuti Onlus is a sentence written on a banner that the association brings with it during the events: “We all have something to give”. Grace told us that this may already be just a smile or a word.
We thank Grace and Inshuti Onlus for welcoming us and for the day passed with them.
We really thank her, and we conclude by saying that Grace, in May 2011, was awarded the by Viola FIDAPA of the section of Varese in the north-west district of the Federazione italiana Donne Arti Professioni Affari. The prize is awarded each year to those women who have distinguished themselves, away from clamors , in activity to the neighbor.