In 2010 Patricia O’Neill began a journey that would impact her life and many others forever. Patricia started volunteering for a small children’s charity in a remote village in the heart of Rwanda. Little did she realise the impact this experience would have on her life and in less than six months she would set up her own charity – Enter RISE Rwanda.
During her time in Rwanda, Patricia met three children, Cadette, Sabrine and Angelos. Patricia was uplifted by their resilience and spirit, but quickly became distressed by the poverty and lack of opportunity that they faced. Right away Patricia knew she had to act. Moreover, she wanted to ensure that the support she provided would allow the Rwandan community to become self-sufficient.
Patricia started by sponsoring Cadette, Sabrine and Angelos to attend school. Education has always been a mechanism to provide individuals with the possibility of escaping poverty by giving them access to a decent job. Today RISE Rwanda sponsors over twenty children and the fund continues to grow to reach more vulnerable children.
Nevertheless, Patricia’s work did not stop there. To make sustainable impact, Patricia recognised the importance of positive role modelling and entrepreneurship and began empowering the mothers and female guardians of these children to start their own businesses.
Funds are raised in a number of different ways to support the Rwandan community, including corporate sponsorship programs, sponsored walks/runs, and personal donations. In recent times, the charity has focused on funds that come from donation based yoga classes. A steady stream of yoga classes have developed in Ireland, the UK and North America, driven by Yoga instructors and studios that willingly step up to contribute. The central tenant of the organisation is that the founders cover all the administration costs, 100% of donations go directly to the charity meaning every penny you donate helps a child or a mother in Rwanda – breaking the cycle of poverty.