Monthly Archives: May 2013

Website Relaunch

May 30, 2013 | Steve Fredlund

Director Steve Fredlund

Our Response is thrilled to present the relaunching of our website. We are so excited to have an updated tool to keep you informed about what is happening. The refreshed site will also include news events and stories from those involved with Our Response. There are so many people passionate about compassion in East Central Minnesota, and we are excited to be able to highlight those stories and inspire others to live a life of impact. We also have an updated presence on Facebook and look forward to multiple ways to continue building momentum.

The website, and the blog in particular, will continue to be updated regularly, both of which we believe will be powerful tools to deepen the sense of community that is developing through Our Response. On the blog you will learn of people throughout East Central Minnesota who are offering their skills to help our friends in Rwanda; you will hear perspectives from child sponsors and others involved; you will be able to follow the trip team as it heads for Rwanda; and you will have the opportunity to engage in the discussion that begins with each blog post.

I would like to take this opportunity introduce you to one of my favorite people, Janie Pearson.  Janie is a board member of Our Response, travelled to Rwanda in 2011, and is passionate about the people of Kivuruga and the impact we are having in our community. Janie will be helping manage the new website and the blog, where she will be a primary contributor.

Thank you for engaging in this journey of transformation occurring in both the people of Rwanda and in the people of East Central Minnesota. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.


2013 Rwanda Trip

May 28, 2013 | Steve Fredlund


In late July and early August, a team from East Central Minnesota will travel to Kivuruga, Rwanda. This team will be the third group of individuals representing Our Response to travel to Kivuruga. I had the opportunity to travel to Kivuruga as part of the first team in 2009, which resulted in the founding of Our Response, and I travelled there again as part of the second team in 2011. The single word that best summarizes Our Response’s impact between 2009 and 2011 is staggering. At least ten water collection and filtration systems were constructed; a nutrition center was remodeled and equipped to serve meals and milk to children; educational programs in nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, and disease prevention were launched; schools were constructed and remodeled; agricultural cooperatives were founded; and the residents of Kivuruga were gripped with the extreme power of hope.

Since that trip in the fall of 2011, the residents of East Central Minnesota have rallied with even greater intensity to financially support the efforts of World Vision in transforming the community of Kivuruga. We receive regular reports about the progress of the individual children and the entire community, but I am anxious to return this summer for a number of reasons: (1) to continue building relationships with the friends and compassionate partners I met on the first two trips; (2) to see firsthand the impact of Our Response and World Vision; (3) to hear residents describe how their lives continue to be improved and how hope keeps building; (4) to have others on the trip confronted with the problem of extreme poverty and exposed to the solution of community transformation; (5) to share experiences and build relationships with other members of the trip team that we will value forever; (6) to represent all of East Central Minnesota to these beautiful people; (7) to bring the compassion of an entire community from the other side of the planet; (8) to once again spend time with my family’s three sponsored children—Gerome, Jean de la Croix, and Claudine, who are growing up (like my own children) so quickly; and (9) to capture stories (both hard and beautiful) to bring back and share with as many people as will listen.

Another thing that I am excited about is the opportunity to bring gifts from the people of East Central Minnesota. In coming blog posts, you will learn about several of these opportunities, but here is a summary of the duffle bags of items we will bring to Kivuruga, along with the individuals who are coordinating the efforts to fill the bags:

•   Medical supplies (Kris Johnson in North Branch)

•   Raincoats (Joel Preston in Pine City)

•   Eyeglasses (Chad Christenson in Cambridge)

•   Boys shorts and shirts (Ellen Lance in Rock Creek is coordinating several sewing groups)

•   Soccer balls (Mark Coughlin in Forest Lake)

If you have an idea and want to fill a duffle bag, please let me know!

I could go on for hours about the first two trips and my excitement for the upcoming trip, but I will save some of that for future blog posts. (Plus, Janie might edit me!)

I am thrilled that we have relaunched our website and increased our efforts on Facebook and Twitter. These avenues will be the primary ways that you can follow us on our journey in Rwanda. We would love to hear from you if there are questions we should ask or things we should find out, we would love to have you engage in the conversation as we post pictures and stories during the trip, and we would love to connect with you after the trip to share our experiences. Thank you for joining us on this united journey of compassion.