Camphill-Inspired Community Project in Rwanda
Since its founding, Ubumwe Community Center (UCC) has been a pioneer in supporting people with disabilities in Rwanda. At its main center in Gisenyi, on the shores of Lake Kivu and near the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo, UCC runs an inclusive primary school, the House of Children School, an educational program for children, adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities, and vocational programs for people with a range of different support needs.
For about five years, UCC has been developing close connections with the Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development and the Camphill Movement. These relationships began when the UCC Leadership Team was looking for a way to make another step in the development of UCC’s work, with a coherent philosophy that was aligned with UCC’s values. They found that Waldorf education and anthroposophic curative education and social therapy, as well as the community-building principles of Camphill could offer such a philosophy.
‘Ubumwe’ – the center’s guiding principle – means ‘unity’, ‘oneness’, ‘togetherness’ and ‘inclusion’. Inspired by a 2019 visit to the Camphill communities in North America, in the context of the Camphill Research Symposium and International Communal Studies Association conference in Upstate New York, the initiative was born to develop a Camphill-inspired land-based community with adults with disabilities in Bugesera District, a rural area South of Kigali.
In May and June 2021, Jan Göschel, member of the Council’s Leadership Team, and Becky Rutherford, Collegium Member of the Camphill Academy, visited UCC in Gisenyi. Together with Becky and Jan, Zacharie Dusingizimana, Viateur Uwambajimana and Justin Nshimiyimana of the Leadership Team of UCC participated in the 2021 Camphill Movement Group Meeting. The consultation also included a visit to the group of five families who form the nucleus of the Camphill-inspired community project in Bugesera. This small group of pioneers started to farm cooperatively on land that is owned by one of the families. Recently, UCC purchased an open plot of land in Mwogo village, where the new community will be developed. Farming will begin in the next growing season, as well as construction of residences and other community building. Camphill Academy Collegium member Marc Blachere from Camphill Village Copake (USA) has been invited to help establish biodynamic practices for the farm, which will include cows, various crops and eventually also a healing plants garden, cultivating traditional healing plants.
We look forward to the next steps for this exciting project! Stay tuned for future updates!
Pictures below: The current farmland and the new open land for UCC’s Camphill-inspired community project in Mwogo, Bugesera District, Rwanda