Julie Epp travelled to Kigali, Rwanda, for the first time two years ago.
Though Epp, an art therapist, was going there for a conference in narrative therapy, she didn’t want to travel to the African country empty-handed.
She did some research and found there was a need for shoes. In doing her research, she came across an organization called Street Kids of Rwanda, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of Rwandan street children.
Epp, who was living in Toronto at the time, collected two hockey bags of shoes to take with her to Kigali.
During her six-day visit, Epp visited the organization to deliver the shoes. While she was there she learned the building where the children were housed lacked electricity and running water.
It was upon returning home to Canada that Epp, now a Charleswood resident, felt the need to do something to help the children, and the organization.
"When I returned home the kids and people of Rwanda just stayed with me, and I thought about what I could do," Epp said.
"We live in Canada and North America and we have this tremendous ability to help and make a difference in their lives."
Helping the organization obtain electricity and running water was something very important to her, Epp said. She contacted the organization and asked how much money it would take to achieve this, as well as send the 75 children they house to school for a year. The cost was approximately $5,000.
Since then, Epp has been raising money for the organization through perogy sales, garage sales, Christmas carolling and other small fundraisers. So far she’s been able to raise about $4,300.
Now, as a final fundraising effort before she returns to Rwanda in March to deliver the money in person, Epp has organized a benefit concert to take place at the Park Theatre.
Since she began her fundraising journey, Street Kids of Rwanda has raised enough money on their own and now have running water and electricity. However, Epp said there is still a need for money.
The funds Epp will be donating will go toward putting an addition on the centre’s dormitory, which will cost approximately $4,000, as well as sending the children to school with whatever money is left over.
"We’re realizing it’s important to have continued support. We’re going to meet with the schools and continue to raise money to get (the children) their education all the way through," Epp said.
The benefit concert, which will take place on Sun., Jan. 27, will be hosted by CBC Radio host Ismaila Alfa and will feature performances by Caleb Hamm, Serena Postel, as well as many other local acts.
"I put out an e-mail to a bunch of musicians I know, and asked if any would be interested in (participating in the concert). Every single one responded and said yes," Epp said, adding she’s amazed by all the support this event has received.
"It’s great when people want to jump on board and help do something good in the world."
The concert begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. Tickets are available at Music Trader located at 97 Osborne St. or at the Park Theatre, located at 698 Osborne St. The event will also feature a silent auction and an art sale.