Sequim residents help build homes in Rwanda

n Claude Sibomana, known as Sibo to friends, was left with the responsibility of taking care of his three younger siblings when his parents were brutally murdered.

When Sequim resident Shirley Holden and her friends heard about Sibo, through Holden’s Rwandan pen pal Mukamwezi, they felt they had to help both his family, as well as Mukamwezi’s.

“Mukamwezi and Sibo and their families live with tremendous need,” said Holden in 2007. “It sure does make us appreciate what we have.”

So Holden and her friend, Irene Greene, started Homes in Rwanda to raise enough money to build a home for Mukamwezi and her eight children and buy one for Sibo, who is now attending college. Several garage sales, Lavender Festival and Open Aire Market booths and one musical fundraiser at The Buzz later, Holden said the group raised $11,000 — enough to provide both the homes and have $1,000 left over to help the families furnish the homes with beds and tables.

“What most left me impressed was that people were walking up to (our booths) with their hands already in their purses,” Holden said. “There are people here that just give intrinsically.”

The group continues to help the two Rwandan families and Holden said they hope to fly Sibo to

Sequim this summer on a break between two terms.

“He is so intelligent and yet hasn’t had the opportunity to go outside of Rwanda,” Holden said. “We hope we can make that happen.”

The women also have learned of a woman in Uganda living in dire need and Holden said they are looking into helping her, as well.

“We’ve reached our goal (with the Rwanda homes) but we’re still working,” she said. “We’re raising money for food. What good is having a house without something on the table?”

The group also created a Web site, with the help of Carlos Seoane, which allows benefactors and others to take a peek into the homes and families they helped.

“People are so genuinely interested, involved and generous toward what others in the community are up to,” Holden said. “What lovely and caring people live here!”

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