With smiling faces, the Ntenyo community has once again welcomed members of Sanejo and YGAP to oversee and assist construction of the Ntenyo Primary School. Over the last week, the group of inspired volunteers has made their journey to Rwanda with the goal of erecting three new classrooms for students in levels P1 through P6. With the help of over 40 local masons and construction workers, a dozen team members and volunteers expect to complete the majority of construction over the next two weeks.
The volunteers will also be present in the existing classrooms, supporting the teachers and encouraging the students. This visit will mark the third consecutive year of on-site development at the school, as part of Sanejo and YGAP’s five-year plan to improve Ntenyo’s educational and community infrastructure.
As a highlight of the visit so far, Sanejo and YGAP participated in Ntenyo Primary School’s first “Reading Day” on Wednesday, which was orchestrated to promote the importance of knowledge and education attained through reading. The day began with a cheerful assembly on the lawn led by the school principal, which included a daily prayer, a series of songs sung in Kinyarwanda, and a rousing jingle intended for the visitors that stated: “We are happy to receive you, welcome!” The students were then marched into the church and seated in the pews, along with the teachers. The volunteers were graciously given seats at the front, and in keeping with the tune, had the pleasure of feeling completely welcome.
Over the next couple of hours, select students from P1 through P3 were brought to the front of the church to read short stories aloud. After each story, the students individually received a roar of clapping sounds and a standing ovation from the crowd, which totaled over 300 students, teachers, administrators, volunteers and other visitors. The reading sessions were followed by a play that was put on by a group of P6 students, who comically and creatively performed a story about a Rwandan who brought his family shame for misinterpreting a street sign due to his inability to read. The message emphasizing the value of reading was clear, and a series of “thank you” erupted from the students; many pledging to read more books as they departed from the celebration.
For lunch, the volunteers hosted a “fruit party” for the teachers and construction workers, where words of gratitude and fervor were exchanged in both English and Kinyarwanda. The workers then began clapping and singing; all with passionate smiles on their faces. Slowly, a group of them took the hands of the volunteers and led them into an empty area at the front of the church. An energetic explosion of traditional Rwandan dancing commenced, with the volunteers mimicking the moves of their counterparts and smiles mirrored on their faces.
The group’s time in Ntenyo so far has served as a wonderful introduction to the community, boosting a feeling of true unity, partnership, and the promise of a stronger educational future. The new classrooms are part of Sanejo and YGAP’s collaborative effort to “rebuild tomorrow’s generation” through educational access and empowerment. Expected to be completed in 2014, the Ntenyo Primary School Project is specifically designed to develop educational and community infrastructure in Ntenyo as well as promote sound education standards.
On April 21st hundreds of adults and children gathered at Ntenyo School to honour Joseph Rutabagisha, the late founder of the primary school in Ntenyo. The ceremony was part of the 18th commemoration of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which Joseph was one of the hundreds of thousands of victims. His family and community members recounted stories of how Joseph started the school in the 1950’s, and how the community and partners have continued to rebuild the school since.
The event also provided a special occasion to thank Sanejo’s University interns, Darius and Clarisse. They have been working with the teachers in Ntenyo for a year, helping them to improve their teaching and language skills. Two new interns, Jean-Pierre Munyeshyaka and Divine Umubyeyi, will continue the work in the year to come.
Attending the ceremony were also students from a Washington-DC based University. The visiting students participated in reading workshops with primary six students, fostering a reading habit. In addition, together with Ntenyo teens affiliated with Sanejo, the American students worked at a special community service event. This umuganda cleared an area where new classrooms will be built in October and November later this year.
The preparation for this year’s construction and volunteer project are well on their way. We extend our gratitude to all our partners who continue to make Sanejo’s work in Ntenyo possible. This year we are raising funds to build four more classrooms. Our goal is to complete the school’s construction and our teacher training efforts by 2015.
Global Giving Update
It’s been an eventful couple of months in Ntenyo. The New Year brought with it the end of the 2011 P6-ers (the oldest students) time at the primary school. Overall the students scored second in the district on their end examination out of 24 schools in Ruhango district. A huge achievement considering the school was in threat of being shut down nearly 4 years ago.
Mukeshimana Delphine was awarded a full scholarship by Sanejo to attend boarding school at Nyakabanda Secondary School in Muhanga District. Sanejo’s Secondary School Scholarships are awarded annually to the girl and boy who score high enough on their end examination to be offered a spot at a boarding school within the country. Students who pass the exam but do not make the cut-off for boarding school are now attending high school in Ruhango District, a 30-45min walk from Ntenyo.
At the end of last year, Sanejo also began a young professionals program dedicated to training young professionals from cities and rural communities in Rwanda about community development. The program began with Sanejo’s co-founder, David Mwambari, taking a group of 20 young professionals to the Ntenyo community for a day of Umuganda (community service) and thematic discussion sessions. The breakout sessions were focused on Teaching, Small Business Development and Community Infrastructure.
The Small Business group was primarily composed of the skilled laborers that have constructed the new primary classrooms over the last two summers. They shared their stories about the investments they had been able to make with the income from the Ntenyo school project and the effect it has had on their livelihoods. Onesphore, for example, was able to save enough money to buy a cow that produces more milk than his previous cow. He is now able to sell more milk at the market and hopes to use the profits to buy an additional cow for his family.
Gasigwa used his savings from working on the new classrooms to purchase a camera and is now known as the community photographer. He used the proceeds from his photographs to upgrade to a digital camera and now has a shop in town with a printer and running electricity. The latter also allows community members to charge their mobile phones for a small price, helping both Gasigwa and the community.
The young professionals left Ntenyo at the end of the day inspired by the perseverance of the Ntenyo community members, pledging to implement similar programs in their own villages. Sanejo is working with its partners in Rwanda to grow this young professionals program and will be running more trainings throughout the year.
And last but not least, the dates for the YGAP volunteer program are set! From November 2 – 17th, 2012, Sanejo and YGAP will be working with the Ntenyo community to build four additional classrooms. The focus of this year’s volunteer program will be on creating sports activities and hygiene workshops for the Ntenyo students during their winter holiday.
Sanejo would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Sanejo is currently in the process of compiling our 2011 progress report which we will release to all of you upon completion.
The following is a letter to all Sanejo supporters from Francine Nyirabugingo, a dedicated Ntenyo Primary School teacher. We hope you enjoy her reflections and sincere gratitude to all of you who have helped make this vision possible--providing talented youth with opportunity through education.
My name is Francine Nyirabugingo and I am an English teacher at Ntenyo Primary school. Almost three years ago, the school was in very bad condition both on the teaching level, as well as the school buildings. It was not well known in the area and even the people who knew it were not willing to send their children there. Then, three years ago Sanejo came to visit us and started helping out in different areas such as education instruction and building rehabilitation.
2011 was a very special year: Starting in February, Sanejo sent us two language and teaching assistants from the Kigali Institute for Education who help us in improving our English skills as it is the language of national instruction. In June, American and Australian volunteers helped us improve our teaching and English skills, and also helped in building three new classrooms for primary levels P3 and P4. Now students from P3-P6 study in new beautiful classrooms. In addition to that, they also installed water tanks and decorated the school in a way that helps students to develop their interest in studying. The volunteers also helped us in founding cultural, environmental and sport clubs.
The students are so proud of their school now and much more confident. They no longer are afraid of the competition with other schools. Last year the finalists did very well on the National exam, and I am sure that it will be the same for this year too, and this is thanks to Sanejo’s support. They all are willing to improve their English which will help them to perform well in their studies, because they hope to receive a scholarship if they are the best. They also gained a lot from the books we received as well as from the visitors we constantly receive. With their humble spirits, the visitors make students feel at ease with them. Compared to the neighboring schools, we are among the top 5 because our students are encouraged to study and to love studying, as the studying conditions changed and keep on changing significantly.
In the name of all the students and the teachers of Ntenyo Primary School, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. There still are other things to do, but for what you have done and what you are going to do, we are so grateful. May God bless all the works of your hands.
We wish you a very happy and healthy 2012 from Rwanda.
Greetings Sanejo Family,
The Sanejo team hopes all is well in each and everyone of your lives. We wish to inform you of some great news that will hopefully brighten your day. This summer, because of your generous donations, Ntenyo Primary School was able to add three new classrooms to accommodate the young learners. These improvements in educational infrastructure and teacher training are paramount in providing a foundation for underprivileged, yet highly talented, Rwandan children. It's hard to imagine that as little as 2 years ago the Ntenyo Primary School was moments away from being torn down due to dilapidated facilities, and the result would have been catastrophic for many of the students.
With this in mind, on behalf of the teachers, children, and community we would like to thank each of you for your continued support and share with you some of the tremendous achievements that have resulted from your contributions. An itemized summary and video clip of the Summer 2011 accomplishments is attached for your review. A few of the largest achievements include:
1. Three new classrooms. This means, in total, we have added five classrooms which are fully equipped with desks and storage units.
2. Two complete foundations for classrooms 6 and 7
3. New common learning areas for students of Ntenyo School in: P6, P5, P4a&P4b, P3a.
4. Three water tanks to catch rainwater and water drainages on site
5. Each teacher completed an English ESL test
6. Health and demographic data collection and analysis
Without your contributions none of this would have been possible. Thank you so much for being part of our family, thank you for caring, thank you for contributing to such an amazing project, thank you for changing lives. Please contact us for any additional information or questions.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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