On November 21st, 2015, the Friends of Rwanda Association held its 20th fundraising dinner at Laguna Town Hall in Elk Grove, in California, USA. In Black & Red attire and a friendly atmosphere, close to three hundred participants joined Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana – Rwandan Ambassador to the United States and Founder of Friends of Rwanda Association (FORA).
The event was also attended by Aurore Kayibanda Mutesi – Miss Rwanda 2012 who was a Special Guest Speaker. Both Southern and Nothern California Diaspora attended the event. Many students from California Baptist University were able to drive from Los Angeles California to Sacramento to attend the event.
The Leadership of the US Diaspora was represented by US Rwandan Diaspora President Gaetan Gatete. FORA was happy to have people from as far as Canada, Texas, Seattle, Maine, the Bay Area, and Sacramento area.
FORA was founded after the 1994 genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi. The purpose of the annual fundraisers is to support Mayaga Vocational School. This school was also started after the genocide and took in many orphaned children to teach them vocational skills.
The Fundraising Dinner was abundantly attended by Rwandan Diaspora and Friends of Rwanda from nearby and afar
From the partnership that was born between Mayaga Vocational School and FORA, the school has been able to purchase needed equipment for students learning various skills that include sewing, carpentry, masonry, and welding. The funds have also helped expand the school over the years.
The community support that FORA has received through fundraising events and other donations has enabled many students to graduate with lifelong skills that not only help the young people of Rwanda to get jobs but also help break the cycle of poverty. Vocational schools offer hopes and dreams and Mayaga continues to do so through the unrelenting efforts and generosity of FORA members.
In her keynote speech, H.E. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana thanked those who have stood with FORA for 20 years and highlighted the progress that has been made by Rwandans since 1994. Not For-profit organizations such as FORA have undoubtedly had a significant role in the rebuilding of Rwanda by providing young people with an education.
Miss Rwanda 2012, Aurore Kayibanda shared with those present a compelling speech in regards to the healing process going on in Rwanda within the youth. She talked about the hopes and aspirations of the Rwandan youth today and admired the work that FORA is involved in to make this a reality.
The National Rwandan Diaspora Chairman, Gaetan Gatete, shared some remarks on the history of FORA and how the Diaspora can assist the work being done. The children and the youth entertained the guests with joyful performances and the crowd danced the night away in celebration.