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Rwandan HUGS

In 2006, Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Rwandan genocide survivor and best-selling author, invited Bedford resident and jewelry maker Nancy Strachan to visit Rwanda.  Nancy spent two weeks in 2007 with Immaculee in Rwanda meeting with leaders of the reconciliation process, meeting students, teaching jewelry skills to women, and visiting genocide memorials.  That visit inspired Nancy to become an ambassador for and advocate of several Rwandan organizations, schools, and ministries.  During subsequent trips Nancy’s partnerships expanded and requests for cooperative ventures grew.  Rwandan HUGS, Inc. was created in 2010.  HUGS, an acronym for Help Us Get Started, symbolizes our policy of embracing Rwandans as we build prosperity, opportunity, hope and community.  Emphasis is given to children, impoverished families, and genocide survivors.  Focus includes agricultural development, education, emergency assistance, and support for emerging small businesses.

BPW selected Rwandan HUGS as a Special Needs project, collecting over $200 which Nancy was able to magnify through social media and raise $720 in total!

Said Nancy, “Thanks again for your tremendous support of our ministry in Rwanda (which) helped a woman named Gentille get a start at a long dreamed-for job at Hand in Hand for Development in Gisenyi, Rwanda.  She has been volunteering there since she received a biosand water filter from them last fall (a personal gift from me as I know how much access to clean water means).  In gratitude, she was helping Hand in Hand as a volunteer from time to time. Now as an employee she feels much more empowered and is more self sufficient due to her  monthly salary of $100. She really loves having a job doing what she trained for.  Her heart is in community development so this is a perfect match for her skills and interest.”

Nancy with Gentille and coworkers at sewing cooperative in Gisenyi. Nancy provides fabric and the women quickly make bags and wearables for which are sold to raise funds for their community


Gentille in her office at Helping Hands


Gentille and her coworker display bags they’ve sewn

Nancy, holding Gentille’s baby, Joy, presents Gentille with her certificate in Trauma Healing Training


20,000 liter water catchemnt tank Gentille helped build at a local school




 Help Save the Next Girl – Bedford Middle School

BPW member Janet Powers presents HStNG – Bedford Middle School Chapter leader Shannon Jurkus and members with funds which will help make education and events in Bedford possible to #HelpSavetheNextGirl!

What’s Happening

Interesting Facts

  • We come from all levels of the workforce and virtually every occupation!
  • BPW was started by long-time Bedford teacher and librarian, Miss Virginia Ruff.
  • We present over $3000.00 in scholarships each year.

Contact Info

Our Mailing Address:
Diane Wilson, BPW President
P. O. Box 316
Bedford, VA 24523
Phone 540-586-5978
Email tdwil@jetbroadband.com