Jun 11, 2021

Enduring the Pandemic Together

Goat Triplets Born in Our Women's Cooperative
Goat Triplets Born in Our Women's Cooperative

After being closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were excited to finally welcome our students back to Rukundo Preparatory School on June 7th. However, on June 6th, the President of Uganda re-imposed the country-wide lockdown to attempt to curb the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. This directive delays the opening of our school for at least another six weeks. It also forced the closure of weekly markets, which provide the livelihood for many of our beneficiaries. 

According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2019/20 conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the pandemic has forced at least 300,000 Ugandans into poverty, as defined by families living below the poverty line. Rural areas have been particularly impacted. In the Kigezi area, where our school is located, poverty rose from 12% in 2017 to 28% in 2020, reversing significant progress made over the last decade. 

Our programs that support vulnerable individuals are now needed more than ever. And we continue to persevere, thanks to donors like you. Since our last report, our goat program has tripled in size, we’ve graduated another 203 girls from our Girl’s Empowerment Program, and 1,000 community members have benefitted from our bean growing project. We also continue to provide our students with at-home learning to ensure that their education continues despite school closures. 

While our students remain at home, construction at the school has reached new heights. We recently completed the first level of brickwork for the school building, and we’re now working on the second level. This is great progress, but there’s still work to be done. Our five classrooms, library, and computer lab now require the proper finishes -- plastering, paint, windows, doors, and electrical works -- costing approximately $5,000 per room. Once complete, this will allow our school to serve students up to the 7th grade. 

Thanks to your support, we continue to make an impact in the lives of those who need it most. Please continue to keep Uganda and our beneficiaries in your thoughts and prayers, as we continue to endure the pandemic together. 

Margaret Harvests Beans from her Garden
Margaret Harvests Beans from her Garden
Construction Progress
Construction Progress
Girl's in Our Empowerment Program Planting Beans
Girl's in Our Empowerment Program Planting Beans
June 2021 Construction Progress
June 2021 Construction Progress
Feb 17, 2021

Progress Towards Our School Expansion

School Staff Conducting At-Home Learning
School Staff Conducting At-Home Learning

Although Rukundo Preparatory School (RPS) remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Uganda, our commitment to our students and their education perseveres! Last year, we successfully transitioned to at-home learning and our teachers conducted more than 1,100 home visits to each of our students. We’re extremely proud of this accomplishment as adapting to homeschooling in a developing country was no easy feat. 

Unlike in the US, our students in Uganda don’t have access to electricity, running water, or other basic necessities. Most of their parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to school when they were growing up, making it even more challenging for them to support their children with their at-home studies. However, at Rukundo International, we believe that no child should be left behind, and we’re proud of our teachers for making this a reality for our students. With our donors' support, our teachers delivered 514 workbooks to our 136 students last year. This year, our teachers will continue to conduct weekly home visits to each of our students until it’s safe for RPS to reopen. 

Although RPS was closed the majority of 2020, we remained committed to our goal of expanding RPS by one classroom per year up to the 7th grade, which will allow us to educate over 300 students. Last year, our top priority was to raise $45,000 to build our 4th grade classroom. These funds would allow us to build the foundation for the entire first level of the existing primary school building -- providing the necessary framework to support the future expansion of our school. Without meeting this goal, our third grade students wouldn’t have a place to continue their education--a sobering reality in a country with limited access to education.

Thanks to the effort of our volunteers and our generous community of donors and supporters, we’re excited to share that we raised $35,000 of this goal! Construction at our school is already underway and we’ve started the groundwork to build our 4th grade classroom. So far, we’ve completed the concrete slab and beams and laid the brickwork to complete the first level of our primary school building. This new level will house three classrooms, four offices, and six toilets. An additional $10,000 will allow us to provide the finishings to the 4th and 5th grade classrooms, including the plastering, steel, electrical work, and painting, rendering the classrooms usable. Thank you for helping us to continue this life changing work that will support hundreds of children in rural Uganda to receive a high quality education. We can’t wait for our school to reopen and welcome our students back to their home away from home!

Students Learn Outdoors
Students Learn Outdoors
Current Construction Progress
Current Construction Progress
Feb 2021 Construction Progress
Feb 2021 Construction Progress
Oct 21, 2020

Keeping Our Projects Running Despite the Pandemic

Girls Empowerment Program Students Receiving Beans
Girls Empowerment Program Students Receiving Beans

It is hard to believe that it’s already October! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Uganda, including Rukundo Preparatory School, remain closed except for graduating classes. We’re all aware of how severely the pandemic has affected us in the West, but we challenge you to imagine the effects for those who were already living in extreme poverty. We are keeping our projects and COVID-relief efforts running as best we can despite the circumstances. 

To many of our students, our school is more than just a school. It's a home away from home,  a place they not only learn new skills and build friendships, but it is their only source for hot meals and clean water. Since we can’t be in the classroom together, our teachers have transitioned to visiting each of our students, at least once per week, to help with at-home learning.

We are continuing to pay all of our staff their full salaries because now they need it more than ever. And they are continuing to positively impact the communities we serve in a safe way. Our team has distributed food and essential supplies to almost 100 families and vegetable seedlings to 60 families. As a long-term approach to mitigate food shortages, we provided quick-maturing bean seeds - enough for a medium-sized garden - to 259 families. The bean seeds are a sustainable means to feed families in the short and for long-term, as part of the seeds will be saved for future harvests, then replanted, providing food for years to come. Additionally, our team has  adapted our Girls Empowerment Program to at-home learning, and taught community members how to maintain their own safety and health. We are so grateful for our staff’s steadfast dedication during this difficult time.

These relief efforts support our communities in the short-term, so that they will not fall even further into poverty. But, there’s so much more long-term work to do. Our top priority is to construct our 4th grade classroom and continue with our plan to expand our school by one classroom per year up to the 7th grade, allowing us to educate over 300 students. We are working hard to raise $45,000 by June, 2021 to allow us to build the foundation for the entire first level of the existing primary school building. This foundation is necessary not only to build our 4th grade classroom but to provide the necessary framework that will support the future expansion of our school. Construction, for now, is halted until we can secure these funds and continue with our long-term plan. 

As one of our ardent supporters, we would love to invite you to watch our virtual gala to learn more about how your donations to our school have helped us to impact the Kabale community: https://www.facebook.com/rukundointernational/videos/773618316822560. The gala is also associated with a virtual silent auction, which you can find here: 32auctions.com/rukundo2020.

This fun event was scheduled in lieu of our normal in-person gala, and is an hour filled with music, dance, testimonials, and more. There’s also a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.  Be sure to check it out, and, as always, thank you for your support. 

Distributing Bean Seeds from Our School
Distributing Bean Seeds from Our School
Rukundo Staff Planting Vegetables for the School
Rukundo Staff Planting Vegetables for the School
Empowerment Program Students Receiving Workbooks
Empowerment Program Students Receiving Workbooks

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