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 Beijing Circle: Women of Faith Changing the World

Maranyundo Girls School, Nyamata, Rwanda

SPECIAL LENTEN PROJECT

During February, our children and youth will be learning about the young girls (grades 7 – 12) who attend the Maranyundo Girls School in Nyamata, Rwanda. We are in the process of arranging guest speakers to come to one of our youth group meetings and our youth have agreed to help cut and fold the Maranyundo Mite Boxes for use during Lent. On Sunday, February 26, the whole church school will learn about the school and be asked to pray for the girls and drop a few coins in their mite boxes each day of Lent (boxes due back on Easter Sunday).

The Beijing Circle is a group of women at Trinity Church who are leading the congregation in our International Outreach 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 through scholarships enabling girls to attend school and to upgrade their school library.

In Advent we work on ways to support their library and in Lent we have had four very successful years of Mite Box collections from the Sunday School raising money for the scholarships, as well as, Lenten Envelopes from the adults. A popular additional 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 congregants schedules and budgets.

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The School

The Maranyundo Girls School is an independent boarding school for 180 middle school students and by January 2017 180 upper secondary school students, located in Nyamata, in the Bugesera District of Rwanda.

The mission of the Maranyundo Girls School is to offer students not simply access to education but 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 of its opening in 2008, The Maranyundo Girls School – which accepts half its students from economically vulnerable families — has achieved national standing as one of the top schools in the country.

Currently a middle school for grades S1-S3 it is poised to double capacity and become a full secondary School of Science and Technology with the addition of its final upper secondary class in January, 2017

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What is a Beijing Circle?

In 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, in reviewing the progress made on 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.

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

Debbie Scarff