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Local nonprofit takes unique approach to volunteering in Rwanda

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 19:56:12-05

OMAHA, Neb. — A local nonprofit is making waves 8,000 miles away in Rwanda. A Council Bluff's woman wanted to reshape the volunteering experience by focusing on building from the ground up and has found success with her organization, Imana Kids Orphan Care Ministry.

Jennifer Young is the event coordinator for the Imana Kids Gala taking place Saturday at the Empire Room in Midtown. She's genuinely passionate about working with the organization and has previously attended the event.

"At this point we are sold out at this point so we're at capacity which is amazing," she said.

The Gala is a fundraising opportunity for the organization that was co-founded by Kara Higgins. After adopting two kids from Rwanda herself, Higgins became extremely invested in making sure kids without families got the tools they needed to still be successful.

"The reality is that they were coming off of a Genocide and there's still a nation that's recovering from a Genocide," Higgins said.

Once the nonprofit got on its feet in 2013, Higgins and her husband decided to take a unique approach to the volunteering experience.

"We don't do things like digging wells or painting wells because we would prefer to boost the economy and hire a local to do that," she said.

So Imana Kids Orphan Care Ministry invest in the 206 current kids in their program with things like education and jobs.

"They sew as much of themselves as they can into that area and they're about long-term solution opposed to hey we're just going to provide these things. Instead they're saying we're going to provide training, we're going to provide schooling, we're going to make sure that you are equip," Young said.

The gala hopes to raise money for a school the nonprofit is hoping to start building soon and is hiring local contractors and architects. Higgins and other volunteers will travel to Rwanda March 20 to get started on those plans.