Beijing Circle: Women of Faith Changing the World

The Beijing Circle at Trinity Church is a group of women working on International Outreach by supporting the Maranyundo Girls School in Rwanda through cross-generational programs involving our entire congregation.

We began our support in 2011 when two teachers and the Head of School visited Trinity just as we were introducing this new International Outreach project to our congregation. Through conversations with the teachers and Sister Juvenal, the Head of School, we decided to support this school by upgrading their library and providing scholarships that enable girls to attend. 

During Advent we work on ways to support their library.  During Lent we have had four very successful years raising money for scholarships through Mite Box collections from the Sunday School as well as Lenten Envelope contributions from adults. Another popular fundraiser is the annual Cooking and Tasting event by a professional chef/parishioner usually planned for June.  Our success with this outreach project is due to programming efforts and support from parishioners and working to serve at times that align with parishioner schedules and budgets.

The Maranyundo Girls School is an independent boarding school located in Nyamata, in the Bugesera District of Rwanda, for 180 middle school students and 180 upper secondary school students. 

Its mission is to offer girls not simply access to education but to academic excellence. The school provides degree-qualified teachers, small classes, teacher-enrichment opportunities and a beautiful, safe, well-equipped campus in which to learn. A secular school, open and welcoming to students of all faiths, it is run by the Benebikira Sisters, a Rwandan order of Roman Catholic nuns who have a long history of providing quality education to the poor.

The school was founded on the belief that all children, no matter their personal circumstances, can achieve excellence. And they have! Within a few years opening in 2008, the Maranyundo Girls School, which accepts half its students from economically vulnerable families, has achieved national standing as one of the country’s top schools.

Originally a middle school for grades S1-S3, it doubled its capacity and became a full secondary School of Science and Technology with the addition of its final upper secondary class in January 2017.

BeijingCircleImageIn 1995, Beijing was the site for the Fourth World Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations. It was there that the Beijing Platform for Action was produced. Ten years later, on reviewing the progress made in the areas of concern identified in that Platform, a small group of women from the Episcopal Church were so deeply moved by their experiences at the 2005 gathering of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW – Beijing +10), that they dedicated themselves to inviting others in their part of the world to share in their discoveries. To share their yearning for justice, their hope for a global consciousness and their attention to the realities of women in their own country and in the countries part of their Episcopal Province of the Anglican Communion.

The group called itself Episcopal Women Changing the World and adopted a mission statement that reads: “As women in the Episcopal Church [in the United States], in solidarity and mission with our sisters throughout the Anglican Communion, we seek to further our Gospel conviction for justice and peace through our presence at the United Nations. We believe that the United Nations is an important instrument for implementing those convictions. We also commit to implementing the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action both in our church and our country/ies as well as alongside our sisters in the rest of the Communion.”

To find out more about the Beijing Circle and the Maranyundo School, contact Deborah Scarff.

For other outreach ministries, click here.