The Gazelle Foundation funds and builds clean water projects in Burundi, Africa. One of the poorest countries on earth, most people in rural Burundi walk over two miles for untreated water from streams and puddles, often shared with livestock. Illness from waterborne infections is high, and a major factor in limiting access to education and economic stability. Through clean water projects, the Gazelle Foundation is offering a first step in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Burundi. Locally, we empower Central Texas youth through water education with events like Walk for the Water.
The Foundation’s formation in 2006 was inspired by Gilbert Tuhabonye, a Burundi survivor of the Hutu/Tutsi civil upheaval of the 1980’s and 90’s which reached a “peace” agreement in 2008. Gilbert was born in the southern county of Songa in Burundi, a small mountainous country in east central Africa. He excelled as a runner, becoming national champion in the 400 and 800 meters as an 11th grader.
On October 21, 1993, the centuries-old war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes erupted as Gilbert and his classmates were in school. His Hutu classmates, their parents, some teachers and other Hutu tribesmen forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a room where they beat and burned them to death. Gilbert, on fire, ran to freedom and survived this horrific event.
Now more than 20 years later and living in the US, Gilbert Tuhabonye is a celebrity in the world of running. He graduated from Abilene Christian University where, despite being covered with scar tissue from his extensive burns, he was a national champion runner. Gilbert still competes and owns and operates a training program called Gilbert’s Gazelles in addition to serving as the Head Cross Country and Track coach at St. Andrews Episcopal High School.
Gilbert is married and has two children. In 2006, he wrote This Voice in My Heart, an autobiographical account of his upbringing and his tale of survival. The response to this touching book has been outstanding, and people have asked how they can help.
The answer is through the Gazelle Foundation.
The Gazelle Foundation improves the quality of life for people in Burundi by providing access to clean water.
The Gazelle Foundation is registered with the Office of the Secretary of State of Texas as a Domestic Non-Profit Corporation. The Foundation has a nine-member board of directors, including five officers.
The Foundation is recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service. Donations made to the Foundation are fully tax-deductible according to IRS guidelines.
How can I get involved is a common question we receive. Please take the time to review our numerous opportunities both locally and abroad in the section below. Murakoze!
Who are we?
We were founded by a group of runners wanting to help others. We’re now made up of runners, walkers, couch-potatoes, students, kids and others who are working to help people in Burundi. Although we are based in Austin, Texas, support comes from all across the United States and abroad.
What do we do?
The Gazelle Foundation builds and funds clean water projects in Burundi, Africa.
What kind of organization are we?
We’re a charitable public foundation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
What do the people in Burundi need?
The people in Burundi need clean, drinkable water. Burundi is one of the poorest countries not just in Africa but in the world and often overlooked by other charitable causes. The country has suffered through decades of civil war.
How do we help them?
We work directly with communities to build water projects. We typically work with an on-site Burundian project manager who oversees construction of each project. Citizens of the immediate impacted area work on the systems, creating a greater bond of ownership and providing for families in a country with unemployment historically above 60 percent annually. We have also worked with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) that have a physical presence in Burundi.
How well will our actions create the desired outcomes for our beneficiaries?
Our efforts directly impact improvements in quality of health and daily life. The most important quantifiable number is the people gaining access to clean water that did not have previous acccess. This number continues to grow and you can view the total HERE. As of January 2015 we have served 35,000+ citizens.
During a visit by one of our employees in 2013, it was noted that those who have received clean water no longer suffered from waterborne illnesses (also verified by two health centers), have a higher yield in crops and a larger population of livestock.
What do we do with Central Texas youth?
The Gazelle Foundation engages with Central Texas youth to help them understand the importance of clean water and how their actions can help other kids half way around the world.
What kind of difference can I make?
About every $25 you contribute through donation, sponsorship or participation can change another person’s life forever by gaining regular access to clean water. You can also serve as an ambassador for us by sharing Gilbert’s book with friends, family and co-workers as well as actively engaging on our social media pages. In the fall (November 1, 2015), you can do the Global Run for the Water and recruit friends, family and co-workers to join with you.
How are we organized?
We are a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the state of Texas. We employ one full-time staff member to handle our Austin-based office but everything else is driven through volunteer efforts. This minimizes overhead and maximizes our giving potential.
What is the Gazelle Foundation’s mission?
The Gazelle Foundation improves the quality of life for people in Burundi by providing access to clean water.
What are the Gazelle Foundation’s values?
Sustained transformation, integrity and results.
What drives us to do what we do at the Gazelle Foundation?
The Gazelle Foundation’s founder Gilbert Tuhabonye was born in Burundi, a small mountainous country in east central Africa. His family was Tutsi farmers. Gilbert’s love of running was forged early. He ran to get water for his family, to school, and he loved to race his friends. in the sixth grade he moved to boarding school. Gilbert began running competitively. Gilbert became national champion in the 400 and 800 meters as an 11th grader.
On October 21, 1993, the centuries-old war between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes erupted in horrific reality. The Hutu classmates at Gilbert’s school, their parents, some teachers and others forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a room where they beat and burned them to death. After nine hours of being buried by the corpses of his friends, and himself on fire, Gilbert used the charred bone of one of his classmates to break through a window. He jumped free of the burning building and ran into the night, on charred feet and survived one of the most horrible massacres in the long Tutsi-Hutu war. He ran from that horror into a new life.
Now, years later and more than 8,000 miles from Burundi, Gilbert Tuhabonye is a celebrity in the world of running. He went on to graduate college at Abilene Christian University where, despite being covered with scar tissue from his extensive burns, he was a national champion runner. Gilbert continues to compete as an elite athlete and owns and operates a coaching program called Gilbert’s Gazelles. With his boisterous personality and friendly disposition he is by all accounts the most popular running coach in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife Triphine and two daughters, Emma and Grace. Gilbert is thankful for his life and success. The Gazelle Foundation is his way of giving back.
What is the Foundation’s relationship with Gilbert’s Gazelles?
The Gazelle Foundation and Gilbert’s Gazelles are two distinct organizations. Gilbert’s Gazelles is a coaching and training program owned and operated by Gilbert Tuhabonye. More information on Gilbert’s Gazelles is available at www.gilbertsgazelles.com.
The Gazelle Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation. Several of our board members and volunteers are or have been active members of Gilbert’s Gazelles, however we operate independently of the training group.
Gilbert Tuhabonye is an accomplished runner, award-winning coach, motivational speaker, philanthropist and a genocide survivor. He is the author of This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness (HarperCollins Publishing, 2006), the harrowing tale of his courageous escape from a horrific massacre in the long Tutsi-Hutu war of Burundi in 1993. Gilbert survived unbearable torture, witnessed mass murder and barely escaped his own fiery death. His story is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit as Gilbert emerged from the scars of his unimaginable ordeal through faith, forgiveness and perseverance. His life experience, inspiring attitude and winning smile are a constant hit with audiences nationwide.
Gilbert does receive an extraordinary number of requests to speak to corporations, schools, churches and other organizations. He considers it an honor to have the interest of so many and does indeed try to accommodate a number of these annually. Because of his very busy schedule and the volume of requests received, we ask inquiring organizations to complete a Speaker Request Form for their event. Factors that influence the decision are Gilbert’s availability on the requested date, the size of the audience, event location, the organization or event purpose as well as other factors.
For more information or to submit a request, visit www.gilberttuhabonye.com/speaking
Create a Personal Campaign
Making a difference in Burundi is easy. Turn your activities – birthdays, bowling, anniversaries, weddings, etc. – in to fundraising campaigns to help raise awareness and funds for our water systems.
Through your purchases and sales
If you’re looking to sell something at your house that you no longer need or want, consider going to Gone for Good and allowing them to handle everything. Tell them you want the proceeds to go to the Gazelle Foundation!
Are you an Amazon.com shopper? Now you can make donations to the Gazelle Foundation by going through smile.amazon.com. It’s all the same items, pricing and website. Once you select “Gazelle Foundation” as your charity of choice, a small percentage of everything you purchase gets donated back to us.
In Central Texas
We are seeking volunteers in several areas, including fundraising, race and event management, marketing, and involvement on various committees. We might need you now and we might need you later, but please let us know what skills and resources you can offer the Foundation. The Gazelle Foundation is a separate organization from Gilbert’s Gazelles Training Group and encourages participation from the entire community. Currently, our greatest need will be for our two spring-time events – Walk for the Water (Spring 2015) and Spring for the Water (Spring 2015).
If you have interest or additional questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walk for the Water:
- Liasion – Work with local youth as they learn about water issues in Africa throughout the 2014 Spring semester.
- Event Day – TBD Spring 2015
Work for the Water:
Work for the Water is an awareness and fundraising trip that will transform you forever as you get a firsthand look at active Gazelle Foundation projects and see how our completed projects are saving lives. You can read an account of the 2011 trip from the Austin American Statesman here: Gazelles Travel to Burundi.
There is no trip for 2015 currently planned.
We strive to grow the Gazelle foundation on a continual basis. If you would like to help, please let us know your areas of interest and expertise and we’ll see if we can find a match for them.
Contact us at email@example.com and we’ll take advantage of your talents.
Meet The Team
The Gazelle Foundation is registered with the Office of the Secretary of State of Texas as a Domestic Non-Profit Corporation. The Foundation has a seven-member board of directors, including five officers. In addition, we are served by a number of members on our Advisory Board who offer various areas of expertise in strategic decisions.
2014 Board of Directors
Gilbert Tuhabonye – Chairman
A native of Burundi, National Champion runner at Abilene Christian University, and winner of multiple races, Gilbert is a co-founder of the Gazelle Foundation. In addition, he owns Gilbert’s Gazelles and serves as head coach of the St. Andrews Episcopal Cross Country and Track programs. A full bio of Gilbert can be found here.
Peter Rauch – President
Pete co-conceived of the Gazelle Foundation with Gilbert and Paul Pugh during a long run in 2006 and wrote the Foundation’s initial strategic plan shortly thereafter. Retired from high tech, he has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, product management, marketing, evangelism and customer support. He is a dad to twin girls, husband, runner, skier, pilot, cyclist, cook and woodworker.
Christian Goy – Vice President
German turns athlete, studies design, takes on psychology, and then marketing, returns to being an athlete, just misses the Olympic team, returns to school, falls in love with branding, discovers Sanders\Wingo Advertising, joins the Gazelle Foundation to help Burundians receive fresh drinking water for life … more to come.
Minnie Hollyman – Secretary
Minnie joined us in 2007 and has joyfully worked for the water ever since. She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism. In her professional life she worked at CBS News and with the American artist, Kenneth Noland. She brings an extensive background in the non-profit/volunteer world. In addition to the Gazelle Foundation, she serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Texas Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Joel Rollins – Treasurer
Joel Rollins joined the team in 2010, bringing 30 years of extensive expertise in equity & debt transactions, strategic planning, human resources, manufacturing operations, IT management, facilities, and risk management. In his off-time, Joel works with sporting dogs and has served numerous other organizations including the Travis County Search and Rescue.
Leslie Newberry – At Large
Born and raised in El Paso, Leslie found her way to becoming an Austinite by attending the University of Texas. While obtaining her BBA in marketing from the McCombs School of Business, she met her future husband, Mark. Together they are the third generation owners of Tarrytown Pharmacy and parents to twin daughters, Morgan and Taylor, who were born in 2012. Leslie joined the Gazelle Foundation Board in 2014 after sharing her passion for the mission by serving on the Run for the Water race committee for 5 consecutive years.
Quincy Lee – At Large
Corby James – At Large
DK Reynolds, Paul Pugh, Randa Safady, Auddie Walker, Diane Humphreys, Scott McAfee, Paul Carrozza, Kerri Fields
Interested in joining our team? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media + News
We’re fortunate to receive regular news coverage whether it’s about Run for the Water, Spring for the Water, Walk for the Water, our co-founder Gilbert Tuhabonye or various other pieces. Click on any title below to be taken to the story.
A ride to remember; local doctor takes bike ride across African country - Brownwoodtx.com
10 Races You Can Run for a Cause - Livestrong.com
Fuentes, Martinez Repeat as 10-mile champs - Statesman.com.com
David Fuentes, Tia Martinez Repeat Victories At Run for the Water; Record Field of 5000 - TexasRunningPost.com
Run for the Water 10-Miler Set for Sunday - TexasRunningPost.com
Austinite Martinez took detour on road to running success- Statesman.com
Gilbert Tuhabonye joins Ricky Doyle in the studios to discuss Run for the Water- YNN Austin
Embarking on a seven-day journey with just bicycles and one support vehicle - AustinFitMagazine.com
Biking Across Burundi- KVUE.com
Head of Gazelle Foundation, Michael Madison, to bike across Burundi - Statesman.com
Austin kids walk to build water system in Burundi- KVUE.com
Opposites really do attract - Statesman.com
The AFM Annual “Best Of” Awards 2013
David Fuentes, Tia Martinez Destroy Course Records at Run for the Water - TexasRunningPost.com
20,000 lives changed: Run for the Water goes nationwide - KVUE.com
Record Field Expected For Run for the Water 10-Miler, 5K & Kids K On Sunday - TexasRunningPost.com
Run for the Water 2013: A Unique Race Experience and Interview with the Race Director - GeekMom.com Tech Blog
Run Raises Money for Clean Water – KXAN.com
Soleus At Run For the Water - Soleusrunning.com
Run for the Water — all the way from Michigan – Austin360.com
Run a Race, Change a Life Forever – MapMyFitness
Burundi Genocide Survivor: Running Eases Mind – NPR
Gilbert Tuhabonye at Qui, Seton Breast Care Center Park Party and more – Austin360.com
Gilbert Tuhabonye: Survival, Forgiveness and Heart – Organic Connections/Whole Foods
Dinner with ambassador from Burundi- Austin360.com
Runner’s Scars Tell A Survivor’s Story – KEYETV.com
The AFM Annual “Best Of” Awards 2012
2013-2014 Austin Distance Challenge – AustinFitMagazine.com
Austinites run for clean water - MyFoxAustin.com
Thousands of runners help bring clean water to Africa – MyFoxAustin.com
Austin running coach returns to homeland, visits site of massacre where he almost died - Austin360.com
Gilbert Tuhabonye goes home, 02.05.12 - Picture Album
International Voice and Local Force of Nature: Gilbert Tuhabonye brings water to Burundi and PRs to Austin runners - AustinFitMagazine.com
From the archive: Scarring flames don’t douse spirit of Abilene Christian runner - Statesman.com
Runner’s World Cover Athletes Race 2012 Boston Marathon For Sick Children - Bizjournal.com
Austin kids walk to build water system in Burundi – KVUE.com
Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of 2011″ Awards
2009 – 2011
Run for the Water Quickly Becoming Austin’s Favorite Event – MyFoxAustin.com
Gilbert’s Gazelles travel to coach’s homeland of Burundi – Statesman.com
How are You Training for the AFM Distance Challenge Series? – AustinFitMagazine.com
Gazelle Foundation in Burundi, 08.01.11 - Picture Album
Run for the Water serves as Marathon prep - Statesman.com
Do you have a question, idea or comment? Please contact us at email@example.com or write us at:
PO Box 1487
Austin TX 78767-1487
Office Hours and Location:
The Gazelle Foundation main office is located at 2203 Lake Austin Blvd. We maintain fairly regular business hours but it’s best to call or email first if you’d like to stop by to say hello.
A big thanks to Randy Chupik and Chupik Properties for donating a portion of our current office space, allowing us to do even more in Burundi.
The Gazelle Foundation thanks Paul Carrozza and RunTex for donating office and meeting space from 2007-2013. His support was invaluable to our organization and we are forever grateful.