Imbabazi is dedicated to the continuation and preservation of Roz Carr’s legacy of nurturing and empowering Rwanda’s children and local communities through education, skills training, and income generating opportunities.
In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, at the age of 82, Rosamond Carr (known to her friends as Roz) founded an orphanage on her flower plantation in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes. The orphanage is called Imbabazi, which means “a place where you will receive all the love and care a mother would give.” Since it opened its doors in December of 1994, Roz and her staff have cared for more than 400 lost or orphaned children. The Imbabazi is and remains a haven of love and safety and a symbol of hope for all.
Rosamond Carr was born in 1912 in South Orange, NJ; she traded in her life as a fashion illustrator and New York City socialite to follow her husband, dashing British hunter and explorer Kenneth Carr, to what was then the Belgian Congo. The marriage did not last, but Roz’s love for the country and its people was kindled. She bought a plantation of her own in the tiny neighboring country of Rwanda and created a remarkable life for herself there – a life filled with romance and adventure, untold hardships and personal loss, political upheaval and civil wars, and a life that was dedicated, in large part, to the Rwandan people. From the beginning, she helped people by distributing medicine for small ailments, administering first aid and paying school fees for children.
Roz Carr was the longest-living foreign resident in Rwanda and the last of the foreign plantation owners. She witnessed the decline and fall of colonialism in Africa and the emergence of new and struggling African states. She sailed up the Congo River and camped in Pygmy villages. She survived civil wars, revolutions, and one of the greatest human tragedies of our time, the Rwanda genocide of 1994.
Rwanda has come a long way since 1994. While it has struggled to come to terms with the huge loss of life, Rwanda has made great strides in rebuilding its infrastructure, restoring its economy, and promoting peace, justice and reconciliation among its people. Roz and the Imbabazi are one of the many success stories that symbolize the rebuilding of the nation of Rwanda.
Rosamond Carr passed away on September 29, 2006 at Imbabazi, the home she loved for more than 50 years; she was 94 years old. One of the few regrets of her life was that she never had children of her own. Through the Imbabazi Orphanage however, she became mother to hundreds of Rwandan children. The Imbabazi Foundation Board of Directors and the onsite management team continue this legacy and the operations of Imbabazi today.
The orphanage was founded in 1994, after the Rwandan genocide, to care of the many children who were lost or orphaned. Some have seen their families die or be killed right before their eyes, while others have no memory of their lives before arriving at the orphanage. The children are from both ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, yet they all receive an equal amount of love and care with no ethnic distinctions or barriers. The children are very much a family, and their courage and love for one another are truly testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
Since its inception, Imbabazi has cared for more than 400 children. Many of these children have since been reunited with family members while others have gone on to lead successful independent lives. The orphanage was home to 51 children who are in the process of completing their primary and secondary studies and transitioning into young adulthood. The orphanage also provides financial support to several children who have been previously reunited with families and pays the school fees of all Imbabazi employees’ children.
The orphanage was created as a response to a specific and acute need in the community in 1994. As the community’s needs are changing, we no longer accept children as residents at Imbabazi. Even though the kids not longer live here due to reunification, we are committed to supporting them until they complete their education. It is our goal to make an impact on the lives of all children living in our community as we move forward.
Children are the future of Rwanda, and Imbabazi is dedicated to providing them with every opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives and to pursue their dreams. Our focus is on education, vocational training, and the teaching of life skills to prepare them for successful careers and meaningful adult lives.
The building pictured above was first built as a pyrethrum drying house on Roz’s plantation. When the pyrethrum industry collapsed in the 1970s, the building fell into disrepair until 1994, when it was refurbished and converted into the first home for the Imbabazi Orphanage. There were two dormitories on the top floor, one for the girls and one for the boys, and a large open area on the ground floor for eating and playing. By 2005, Roz had acquired so many children that new dormitories were built to accommodate them all.
Thanks to a generous grant, this building has been restored to its original glory and was recently launched as a museum, honoring Roz’s life and works.
The upstairs of the building has been renovated to show its original use as a pyrethrum drying facility, there are posters depicting Roz’s life with quotes from her auto-biography “Land of a Thousand Hills” and an area which, in time, we hope will be devoted to the history of the orphanage itself.