A laptop donated by Maple Ridge realtor and Rotarian Bonnie Telep has found a good home in Rwanda.
Telep donated it to Cathy Emmerson for her charity work in Rwanda, and it was given as the top prize in a spelling bee to the winning school.
"They are thrilled to bits with it," Emmerson said.
Emmerson, who calls herself a native of "rainy Haney," has been living in Rwanda for the past 10 years, working with children and adults, largely educating them but also helping them build businesses and become self-sufficient.
Emmerson is in Maple Ridge for five weeks, and her friends - many of whom belong to the society that supports her work, the Rwanda Prefer Society - are organizing a fundraiser on Saturday evening at the Witch of Endor.
Because the government of Rwanda is stable with investments in education and infrastructure, there have been a lot of successes in the rebuilding of the country, Emmerson said.
"In countries with bad government, you can send food every day for 25 years and you get the same result," Emmerson said. Not so in Rwanda.
Last year, the Rwanda Prefer Society raised $130,000 for charity work - surpassing its goal of $100,000 - and this will go towards building four more classrooms to teach preschool-aged children. Emmerson said she hopes construction will begin in January.
Currently there are 185 students in her preschool with seven teachers, two assistants, three groundskeepers, a bathroom monitor, and a baker.
Other donations from Maple Ridge and surrounding communities are helping Rwandans have a better quality of life.
A $12,500 donation from a Coquitlam man was used to build 10 three-bedroom houses on land donated by the Rwandan government. Two more houses were built and the 12 houses were given to single-parent families with small children - one house costs US $1,500 to build.
Emmerson has also been helping locals start businesses to become self-sufficient, for example, she recently helped two women start a produce store, and so far she has given assistance to them worth $300.
"They're doing well... and they're eating," Emmerson said about the shopkeepers.
Emmerson also started a Saturday program for street kids, many of whom were orphans or abandoned children from the genocide. When Emmerson started working with them, many from the ages of 13 to 17 had never had a safe place to go.
The merchants were upset with them because they stole from their shops, and discouraged Emmerson from helping them.
"She proved them wrong," said Emmerson's friend Randy Scheirer, who is also president of the Rwanda Prefer Society, which recently was given charity status.
"They look wonderful now," Emmerson said about the former street children who still come for English classes, a game of football, food, and other activities on Saturdays.
This Saturday's fundraiser is organized by Brenda Rafuse-Wilkes and Barb Chipperfield, who have organized fundraisers in the past for Emmerson's society.
It will be held at the Witch of Endor on June 22 starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a burger, fries, a beverage, and "a jolly good time." There will be 50/50, a raffle, a toonie toss, and entertainment by the band Still Spirits. The Witch is at 22648 Dewdney Trunk Rd.
For more information on Rwanda Prefer, go to www. prefercanada.org.
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