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.