We hope that you and your family are safe and well during this challenging time.
As many of you know, we are back home in the Los Angeles area, getting ready to send out a container filled with dental supplies and equipment that were made possible by the generous donations by you and our corporate partners.
We spent four months in Rwanda last year laying down the foundation for this moment. It has finally come: the construction of the first Compassion Community Dental Clinic is finished! There were many times as we were driving to the site that we thought we were dreaming and had to pinch ourselves to make sure that this was actually happening. Once the equipment arrives, we will officially launch the clinic and open a new chapter of HHOA.
We began the construction of the Compassion Community Dental Clinic (CCDC) in Nyamata. Managing the construction in Africa has been extremely challenging. It was impossible to find people with any experience building dental clinics, and as a result, the entire process ended up taking three times longer than anticipated. But by God’s grace, it is nearing completion and has been a good learning experience for the building of our HOPE Dental Center in the future.
Our first-ever Virtual Fundraiser in November was a big success. We shared our vision and story with people all around the world and reached our fundraising goal. Thank you for your continued support, even during these difficult times. Your expression of love for our organization and the people of Rwanda is greatly appreciated. We want to give special thanks to all who worked tirelessly to make the fundraiser possible: Betty Safari, Jubilant Sykes, Gary Chan, Harry Eun, Tom McAllister, our corporate sponsors and the entire HHOA board of directors and volunteer team. Thank you all for the successful event!
If you were not able to watch the event, or would like to share it with others, please go to our YouTube Channel.
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Mr. Jubilant Sykes soothing our soul with music at the Gala
Tom and Lita moved to Rwanda in August, 2020 to officially begin their work sharing the hope and healing of Jesus with the people of Rwanda by providing much needed dental care and training future dentists to establish a sustainable dental care system. They will be working with the HHOA Rwanda Dental Team and Rwandan partners over the next few months to finalize the construction of HHOA's first Compassion Community Dental Clinic (CCDC) in Bugesera District.
Thanks to all of your support, our first-ever virtual fundraising gala was a huge success! Praise God!
IT FINALLY HAPPENED!
As with many others around the world, our schedule for 2020 has been completely obliterated! While we patiently waited for the situation to improve, we received notice in early July from the Rwandan Embassy that Rwanda would be open to foreign travelers beginning August 1—in a matter of weeks. We quickly arranged for and sent out a container with our personal belongings, cleared out our home of 20 years (to put it on the market), said goodbye to family and friends, packed our suitcases and left for Rwanda on August 6.
Traveling was extremely difficult as rules and regulations seemingly changed daily. In addition, limited flight options plus concerns about international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic created delays. Our flight was an exhausting 38 hours long. Thankfully, your prayer support and God’s protection allowed us to arrive safely.
Here, everything is new! New home, new relationships, new food, new smells, new language, new sounds, new ways to do laundry, new scenery as I go on my runs, new ways of grocery shopping…the list is endless. By God’s grace, we found an apartment to call home for the next few months; we’ve reconnected with friends and ministry partners, and with your continuing prayers, the transition has been relatively smooth.
From the day of arrival, we have pressed forward to open this exciting new chapter of His Hands On Africa for which we have been patiently waiting. Initially, we met the Dental Team of HHOA and shared our dreams with one another over dinner. It was so encouraging seeing their faces full of hope and aspirations. The Team is committed to partner with HHOA and to dedicate their lives, gifts and talents as a channel of blessing to heal the people of Rwanda.
The following week we signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nyamata District Hospital. The hospital is located in Bugesera District (similar to a county in the US), a district with population over 400,000. This is where our first Compassion Community Dental Clinic (CCDC) will be established, making our Dental Clinic the only one with a dentist on staff to serve the people of Bugesera District.
As I write this, the building of the clinic has begun! As you know, our vision for these clinics is to provide dental care for the remote and underserved communities of Rwanda. We are also partnering with local churches in sharing the Gospel and providing emotional and spiritual care for those in need.
As we progress, we will keep you abreast of our successes. Please pray with us, engage with us, and invest/partner with us to bring healing and hope to the people of Rwanda and beyond!
We thank you for the support you provide—it’s making all this possible!
Tom & Lita
On a warm July afternoon in 2013 following a 32-hour flight, Thomas Lee, a prominent Southern California dentist, and his wife Lita, first set foot in Kigali. Read more…
In our recent communications with our supporters, many have expressed concern about how this pandemic is affecting the people of Rwanda. In light of this concern, we would like to take this time to update our supporters.
Rwanda has not been spared from this crisis. As of April 19th, there has been 147 confirmed cases, 76 recoveries. According to the Ministry of Health, every province in Rwanda has had a COVID-19 case. No death has been registered since the first case was confirmed in the country over a month ago.
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, the medical team has done a fantastic job in their effort to contain the spread of the virus. On March 21st, Rwanda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to order a total shutdown because of the coronavirus. The borders with adjacent nations are closed, the police and military strictly enforce the lockdown using roadblocks and drones, and arrest people who are out without good reason. We are relieved that the effort is working, as April 19 was the first time Rwanda had more recoveries (76) than active cases (71).
When we first learned about the lockdown, we immediately became very concerned about the vulnerable people in Rwanda. Many people here in the States live month to month; however, most Rwandans live day to day. In addition, most have no running water and need to go out to get water daily. We also learned that the lockdown has been extended by until April 30 to further contain the outbreak.
How will these people survive during the lockdown?
The government, realizing this harsh reality of so many who are suffering, has started a systematic process of food distribution to assist the vulnerable. However, it is not nearly enough.
His Hands on Africa has taken action in supporting our brothers and sisters in Rwanda. We are donating funds to our partners in Rwanda so that they can buy food and other necessities and distribute them to the people who are in desperate need.
It is with great excitement that we share this new development for HOPE Dental Center and His Hands on Africa.
HHOA in collaboration with Archstorming, a non-profit organization based our of Spain that seeks to improve humanitarian issues through humanitarian architecture competitions, opened a global architectural competition to design HOPE Dental Center November last year. The competition drew 427 applicants from all around the world of which 234 teams submitted drawings for HOPE Dental Center. Top 50 finalists were submitted to the Jury, which consisted of 9 members from around the world, many with construction experience in Africa and some specifically in Rwanda.
HHOA’s aim was to use the building process of HOPE Dental Center to bless and build up the community and be a source of hope to the people we serve. We were inspired by a TED talk given by a famous architect Michael Murphy, who led the team that designed the Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda. He incorporated the Rwandan concept of “Ubudehe”- the long-standing Rwandan practice and culture of collective action and mutual support to solve problems within a community - to design and build the new hospital.
“When we had to excavate an enormous hill top and a bulldozer was expensive and hard to get to the site,
so they did it by hand using a method in Rwanda called Ubedehe, which means ‘community works for the community.’
Hundreds of people came and finished the job in half the time and half the cost.”
These four concepts were incorporated in the building process of the hospital and the community:
1. Hire locally
2. Source regionally
3. Train where you can
4. Invest in dignity
In addition, sustainability is a fundamental aim of the HOPE Dental Center. Again we incorporated it into the building design important elements such as renewable energy, heating and ventilation efficiency and sustainable water management strategies. It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of the HOPE Dental Center global architectural competition.
First prize winner is a team based out of Dubai, UAE. The other winners and Honorable mentions are teams from Brazil, USA, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, France, Spain, UK, Colombia, Slovenia and China. As you can see, the competition was truly a global event, the creativity of world came together to bring forth the future design of HOPE Dental Center.
With great anticipation, His Hands On Africa (HHOA) is collaborating with Archstorming in a global competition to build HOPE Dental Center, a state-of-the-art dental clinic and training institute in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The competition with bring hundreds of architects from all over the world to use their creativity, gifts and talents to design HOPE Dental Center which will bring hope and healing to the people of Rwanda. Please share this exciting new development with friends and family. If you have architect friends, please invite them to join this competition to make a difference and bring HOPE to the nation of Rwanda! Click here for information on the competition