The last fundraiser I conducted to raise enough money for solar on the large/newer school at the PREFER site in Rwanda was so successful that I have decided to do it again!

Last time I told you all about Cathy Emmerson who runs the organziation and her history in Rwanda (which is vastly fascinating!)  This time I would like to tell you MY story!

When I started fundraising to bring solar to the school, I had never been to Rwanda.  I knew very little of it's history.  All I knew was that my friend Cathy Emmerson had sold everything she owned in Canada, packed up what little was left and moved to Rwanda....and had never come home.

I knew she ran a school in Rwanda but I didn't know where the school was or what the plight of that school might be.  So, one day, via Facebook (don't you just love Facebook?), I asked her.  What was she doing there?

Well, she told me.  In great detail.

I asked her what I could do to help?  Would the installation of solar panels help?  She liked that idea and so my journey began.

Raising money is a challenge and I took it on with everything I had to give at that time.  I am so grateful to everyone who helped!!!

Then I booked my tickets to fly to Rwanda.  (Yes, I paid for my own airline tickets, as some people have asked). I took with me, 3 huge rubbermaid containers full of supplies for the school and items that are dreadfully difficult to get in Rwanda.

When I checked in for my flight, the agent at the KLM desk asked why I had so much luggage.  One small suitcase (mine) and these 3 behemoths!  When I explained what I was doing, she upgraded me to business class and let me bring ALL of that baggage on board for no extra charge!  Can you imagine that?  I thanked her profusely but she said, "No, thank YOU for what you are doing!"

I arrived in Rwanda in the middle of the night.  It had been a very, very long couple of flights and I was exhausted, but there was still a 2 hour drive up a dark, winding mountain road in an old van with a strange man to get to the school.  Was I scared?  Yes.  Was I excited?  Yes.  Was I wary....mhm...  but I did it anyway.

When I got to the school at 3am, Cathy was there to greet me.  What a sight for sore eyes! And you know how it is with old friends, we didn't stop talking until the sun began to lighten the sky.  A backdrop to the striking Virunga Mountains.

That was my first real view of the wonderful school, surrounding yard and outbuildings; in the soft, predawn light.  It took my breath away.

I awoke to the sound of children's laughter.  The most joyful laughter I had heard from children in a very long time.  Still tired and jet-lagged I wobbled my way to my bedroom window and gently pulled back the curtain.

There, in the yard, small children were running, laughing and playing with such complete abandon that I couldn't tear my gaze away.  I was enraptured!

And this joy-filled laughter continued day after day along with their sweet chants, "One, two, three, four..." Small children, learning english in a three room schoolhouse, nestled in a small mountain village.

It didn't take long for me to learn the other side of this bucolic scene.  Many of the children have parents, so affected by the 1994 genocide that they are unable to properly care for these children.  All of them wear clothes that were donated by generous people overseas.  Too many of them do not have enough to eat on a regular basis.

And yet, they remain hopeful, happy....

Electricity to the school can and does disconnect and stays out for a long time.   Yes, I experienced a power and water outage for 3 days.  That was an interesting time!

The need for solar panels at this school is desperate!  Not only will it supply light but also basic electricity!

Last year, we raised enough money for the solar panel on the new school and this year my goal is to raise enough money to put a solar panel on the older school  the smallest children attend.


Your generosity is just a click away, and you will: 1) help Cathy's school thrive, 2) provide sustainable energy with a very tiny carbon footprint and 3) have sent some wonderful positive energy out into this turbulent world!

If everyone does just a little bit, a whole lot gets done!

Hit the "Donate" button! It's so easy!

If you would like more information on PREFER Canada, please check out our website below!

And have a wonderful day!

(if you are making a donation directly through the prefercanada website, please clearly mark your donation "For the Solar Project". )

With love and gratitude!


Yes, I'm still working on this page.  Stay tuned for more photos!!!


  • Julia Perrie 
    • $1,000 (Offline)
    • 56 mos
  • Lorraine Manyck 
    • $150 (Offline)
    • 56 mos
  • Christine Verrico 
    • $100 (Offline)
    • 56 mos
  • Lori Palfy 
    • $100 
    • 56 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 57 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Julia Perrie 
Pitt Meadows, BC
Cathy Emerson