Our History with Rwanda
The Paraclete was able to attract a wide circle of people, including architects, lawyers, educators, fundraisers interested in helping with all aspects of the school project . Our teenagers had fundraising events and many of our Board members visited Rwanda. With everything in place for a final major fundraising push, a group of Boston women, now known as the Maranyundo Initiative, www.maranyundo.org, stepped up to the plate to assume complete responsibility for the school and have continued to support its operations. The Maranyundo Girls School opened in 2008. Later in 2010, it was gifted to the Benebikira Sisters, a native order of Catholic Sisters. It is one of the top science schools in the country and half of its students come from very poor rural families.
In 2002, we opened our doors to welcome members of the Benebikira Congregation, who came to Boston to further their studies. The Sisters' presence in the Paraclete opened up a unique learning experience for our students and prompted over 50 Paraclete friends to accept their invitation to visit them in Rwanda.
However we should note that South Boston’s unique connection to Rwanda began much earlier. Former mayor and US Ambassador to the Vatican, Ray Flynn, was in Rwanda on a special mission for the Pope when the genocide of 1994 started. The Papal Nuncio was hiding from the genocide militia who were trying to kill him, but it was Ray who got him out of the country safely. That former Papal Nuncio, Giuseppe Bertello ,who Ray saved from certain death, went on to become a Cardinal and is now serving as part of the small group of Cardinals advising Pope Francis.
The Paraclete’s connection with Rwanda began in 2000 when one of its leading women leaders, Aloisea Inyumba, visited us as part of a group attending Harvard University’s Women Waging Peace Colloquium. They had been invited to a special Thanksgiving dinner prepared by the Paraclete students and hosted by the Mothers group. Aloisea saw how we provided educational opportunities and she knew how important the education for girls would be for her country. So she asked if we would help her start a leadership school for girls in Rwanda? We could not say no.