Project LIGHT: Shining Hope from Rwanda

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Everyone has heard the much-honored quote from Mahatma Ghandi, to “be the change you want to see in the world.”  Self-initiated transformation from deep within oneself is at the heart of theosophical teachings, and this process is being put into action where it’s probably more desperately needed than anyplace else on earth—Rwanda.


Lori Leyden, Ph.D., founder of Create Global Healing and Project LIGHT, traveled to Rwanda in 2007 and again in 2008 and 2009 to meet with young people ages 15-25 who were orphaned during the 1994 genocide in which 20% of the country’s population was murdered within 100 days.  Focusing on trauma healing and heart-centered leadership, she worked with young people who had witnessed or experienced rape, torture, mutilation, disease, murder and the resulting poverty and despair. Rwanda has the highest percentage of orphaned children in the world--a 1999 UNICEF study found that 96% of children interviewed had witnessed the massacre and 90% had lost at least one family member.


The resiliency of the human spirit that she witnessed in these young people, as well as their willingness to teach their peers what they learned, combined with grassroots support from the local community, inspired Lori to create a new model for peace that can be replicated in other areas of the world. 


Stretching far beyond traditional humanitarian aid, Project LIGHT teaches the children heart-centered leadership skills, trains them to train others, involves grassroots support from the communities, teaches them to sustain themselves economically, and teaches them energy psychology methods with which they can continue to heal themselves and others from the traumas and despair that had become such a way of life.  Lori's vision for Project LIGHT is to create a replicable, self-sustainable international youth healing center combining three aspects of aid that have not been combined like this before:  1) basic needs, 2) trauma healing and heart-centered leadership, and 3) job opportunities. Project LIGHT creates a sustainable model for continued healing because the young people themselves take ownership of the project, and their futures.


And it’s working.  Trauma outbreaks among the children were reduced by 90% according to Rev. Rugabisha, Headmaster of a school for 600+ orphaned genocide survivors.  Team member Christopher Lowman recalls, “What continues to leave a lasting impression was the strength, resilience, and dignity the children of Rwanda demonstrated to me on a daily basis, as well as their exquisite sense of humanity.”    


See the project in action:

Learn more at:

Project LIGHT ( and

Create Global Healing (

Download a brief on the project:


Project Light is a hand-up, not a hand-out.


"You have made a difference in our hearts and in our lives. Now we have hope and we know this is not our burden alone to carry. Forgiveness is so hard but we are willing now because we know we need each other. There are many of us who need your help. Please don’t forget us and please come back." - Celestin, Student Leader representing orphan genocide survivors  




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