Thursday, April 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Davis teen has a heart for Rwanda

Lyla Godfryd high-fives the opposing soccer team in a friendly game in Mayaga, Rwanda. Her efforts provided the jerseys, cleats and other supplies to the players. Courtesy photo

By
From page A8 | October 01, 2013 | 2 Comments

The Rwandan village of Mayaga is better place to be a kid because Lyla Godfryd is in the world.

Two decades ago, the village became home to many widows and a large group of children orphaned by the genocide of 1994 that killed as many as 1 million men, women and children in the African nation. In the years since, the residents built themselves houses and a school and brought in electricity, and now, 19 years later, new families have formed and the next generation is being raised in a peaceful, though very poor, place.

Godfryd, a junior at Davis High School, knew of the struggles the villagers faced from family friend Chiaya Rawlins, who works on behalf of the Friends of Rwanda Association. And 2 1/2 years ago, upon learning that the children there loved to play soccer but had virtually no equipment — no shoes, no balls, no anything — she decided to change that.

Godfryd — a longtime soccer player herself — had a sizable collection of soccer jerseys accumulated over the years and suspected households all over Davis did, too. She put out the word to the community and soon had enough jerseys to outfit 10 full teams of students, as well as shin guards, socks, cleats, balls, nets and more.

She turned everything over to Rawlins to deliver to Rwanda for her and was rewarded with photographs of smiling children clad in Davis AYSO and DYSL jerseys happily playing soccer.

“I had hoped to go with her,” Godfryd said, “but I was too young.”

When Rawlins returned to Davis, she told Godfryd of the school’s other needs, ranging from a library to an outdoor court where students could play basketball and volleyball.

Godfryd decided to make that her next project, and last winter, she began collecting again, though this time the effort was more focused on raising money to purchase the materials to build the court.

She sent out letters and received donations from friends and family. A booth at the Davis Farmers Market also brought in a lot of donations.

“I was astounded,” said her mom, Avery Godfryd.

So generous was the community that Godfryd was able to raise everything needed to build the court and outfit it with balls, nets and more. And this time, she got to be the delivery person.

In June, accompanied by family friend Ange Twagirayezu, brother of Rwanda’s ambassador to the United States, Godfryd headed to Rwanda. There she stayed with a family for a month and became close to one of the daughters, Karen, who became her companion and tour guide during Godfryd’s time there.

She visited Kenya, went on a safari and saw the rainforest, but the highlight of the trip was her visit to the school in Mayaga.

She arrived to see kids proudly wearing her own Sacramento club team’s Cal Rush T-shirts as part of their school uniforms.

“The kids had heard I was coming and they had prepared a musical for me,” Godfryd said.

She received a tour of the grounds, saw where the new sports court would be installed and even played a game of soccer, which in Rwanda is considered a “male sport,” Godfryd said, but one that they were happy to play with her.

Many of the kids she was playing with and against wore soccer jerseys likely very familiar to Davis kids.

Godfryd also presented the $1,500 she had raised in Davis — converted to Rwandan currency — to the principal of the school and remarked on how so much of it — the donations, the balls, the jerseys — “seem so little here, but were so big there.”

“It seemed amazing what a difference I could make,” she added.

Back in Davis, her new Rwandan friends are still on her mind and she is already planning what she will do next to make life a little better for the residents of Mayaga.

“I’m going to raise more money to fill in the needs,” she said. “The teachers don’t make much and the kids don’t have a lot of books … the priority will be building a library.”

She’s not planning an active fundraising campaign but anyone interested in helping can make donations through the Friends of Rwanda Association at any time.

And she says she’s so grateful for the support of the Davis community, her family and friends — particularly Maddie Rackerby, who helped her enormously — and the Friends of Rwanda Association. Learn more about the association and how to help at www.friends-of-rwanda.org.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Jessica ChabotOctober 01, 2013 - 10:41 pm

    This exceptional girl is a wonderful example to all of us in Davis, young and old. Many congratulations to Lyla and friends who care this much for people who seem far away to others. These Rwandan children have been brought closer to us all by the kindness of Lyla and her friends. May we take advantage of this and contribute to her cause.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Friends of Rwanda AssociationOctober 04, 2013 - 5:09 pm

    Dear Lyla, Thank you for all you have done for FORA and Children in Rwanda.Here is the Thank you letter from School you helped... FORA ====================================== Dear all, KIM Foundation-VTC/Mayaga are very happy because It was a dream to obtain a player ground like this(look on attachment) in our school. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Lyla Godfryd for her initiative and contribution to the construction of this(on attachment) player ground. Our Sincere gratitude goes also to: Amb. Mathilde MUKANTABANA Hon.Euthalie NYIRABEGA Chiaya Rawlins Ange TWAGIRAYEZU And to FOR A & ASOGM I’m not forgetting to express our thankfulness to our employees and Trainees of KIM Foundation –VTC/Mayaga. The launching of this player ground are taken place on 20th October 2013 by the small competition against our two neighbor schools. Thank you, François d’Assise MUNYANGEYO Director of KIM Foundation-VTC/Mayaga

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

Benefit set to help local bike legend

By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Jury deliberates murder, elder-abuse charges

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
Davis wins USA Today Best Cycling Town honor

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Three killed in attack on Ukrainian base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

State’s health care sign-ups beat projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
California residents divided on drought solution

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A2

For the record

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A2

 
Scholar will discuss human trafficking in Friday talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Downtown post office set to reopen

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3

 
Run or walk to prevent child abuse in Yolo County

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Nominations sought for charity paint giveaway

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Learn more about Google Glass at talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Per Capita Davis: Now, for some good news

By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

Birch Lane hosts 50th anniversary party

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Hannah Stein reads poetry at gallery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis Food Co-op to offer free bags on Earth Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Get in the picture with school board candidate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

KDVS hosts on-air fundraiser April 21-27

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Tickets on sale for Pence Garden Tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fundraiser planned for Allen’s campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Food Co-op board plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis Downtown hosts candidate forum

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A4

 
Barbecue celebrates winter shelter program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Sign of things to come

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A8

 
Davis Soroptimists celebrate 60 years

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Fancy meeting you here …

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
A great community effort

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Public Health Heroes honored

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Don’t miss a Trokanski dance

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Frank Bruni: The oldest hatred, forever young

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

Expert: Free parking is a myth

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Have they really learned?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Foster steps down as Lady Blue Devil basketball coach

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
River Cats’ streak reaches six wins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Landry evolves into UCD women’s lacrosse leader

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Huge inning propels Pleasant Grove past DHS

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Giants edge Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Youth roundup: Martinez, Chan come up big at gymnastics regional

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Kings drop season finale to Suns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Angels get past A’s in extras

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

Wineaux: Good deals off the beaten path

By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A7

 
Rockabilly phenom to play at The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

HellaCappella showcases a cappella singing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
‘One’ singular sensation to open at DMTC

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

25th annual state clay competition exhibit at The Artery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Tapan Munroe

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6