Northam widow builds peace village in Rwanda
RETIRED businesswoman Dorothy Rundle is building a peace village in Rwanda in memory of her late husband, David. For the past seven years, Dorothy, 77, has been working to bring clean water, education and birth control to people in a remote area of the
RETIRED businesswoman Dorothy Rundle is building a "peace" village in Rwanda in memory of her late husband, David.
For the past seven years, Dorothy, 77, has been working to bring clean water, education and birth control to people in a remote area of the African country through The David Rundle Trust.
During talks with a Government official the need for unity was raised and the idea of a 'peace village' was born.
With the backing of the Rwandan authorities, Dorothy is now helping to build the first of its kind in the country.
Three homes have so far been built and when Dorothy, from Northam, returns there in a few weeks' time she is hoping to see the first families in occupation - one each from the Tutsi, Hutu and Batwa tribes.
Once settled into their homes and with land to cultivate, these families are being asked to take into their care a "street child,"
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Through the David Rundle Trust, these children would then be able to go back to school and be educated, Dorothy said.
"This was something I had thought about for three or four years, but did not have the money. Unity is so important between the tribes. Then I met with Government officials and they came up with the money."
She had then searched out suitable land, signed an agreement with the owners and building work was started.
"The first three houses were completed before I left Rwanda in March and it has been left to the authorities to choose suitable families to go into them," she said. "We hope to buy more land for more homes and create a proper 'peace village' which will be an example to the rest of the country."
Despite her age, Dorothy has taken a hands-on approach to the project, carrying bricks, mixing mud and sand mortar with her bare feet and generally helping the local builders with the work, before a seven-kilometre journey to her lodgings on the back of a local man's bicycle!
Her remarkable story began not with people, but with apes, and many miles away on another Continent.
Dorothy went to visit the orang utang apes of Borneo and there learned of the plight of mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
When she visited them, Dorothy became increasingly taken by the local people she met and the hardships many of them had to endure.
Through The David Rundle Trust and the creation of a growing group of supporters back home, she was able to focus on the basic needs of Rwandan villagers, such as building tanks for the storage of clean water. As a result, nine tanks and two pipelines stretching five kilometres have so far been created.
Her attention then also turned to the needs of education for children and 16 orphans have so far been put into school - one having already graduated and got a job and another having won a scholarship!
Then came efforts to organise and finance birth control and family planning groups.