In 2014, when we began the education support program for children in Rwanda there was little to no earned income coming into the family homes. The children had missed semesters and even years of attending school due to their guardians inability to afford the school fees. The ability to buy enough food to feed their children two meals a day was scarce and what food they did eat lacked energy building ingredients. Prolonged hunger prohibits rational thought and sevely affects mental well-being.
This was the case for Vania. I met her in 2014 at her home in the Northern Region of Rwanda. She was an 11 year-old bright eyed girl with a beautiful smile. We receive report cards for all the children in our program to follow their progress, but Vania's grades were struggling to meet the 40% mark (80% being the best). However, in the last few years, as the women earn income from the Umva dyeing project, and are not having the financial burden of paying the school fees there is now more income for food and other necessities. Always, food and water are at the heart of a healthy mind and body.
In Rwanda, at the end of Primary School (grade 8) students have to take and successfully pass National Exams in order to attend Secondary School (grades 9-12). We received Vania's marks this month and she not only passed the exams but did them very well. Her best subject was English with a 2 (1 being best out of 10) but all the marks were 6 or less. She has been assigned to attend a boarding school in Rwanda where she will stay and study except for the holidays. We are so proud of Vania!
As our families work and earn income the children are thriving rather than barely surviving. This is how we make a difference directly where the need is so great.
Paccy's mother lives in the Northeastern Province of Rwanda in a rudimentary home with an outdoor kitchen and latrine. Paccy used to fetch water for her 80 year old mother from the nearest well, nearly an hour's walk roundtrip, but she now works and lives too far away to do so.
After scraping together enough money to attend university, Paccy graduated from INES in 2016 and obtained a job in 2018 as a medical lab technician - a triumph - but it required her to move over 4 hours away. Paccy sends much of her monthly income to her mom to help with food and other expenses but cannot afford to pay someone to fetch her water.
I met with Paccy in April 2019 during my annual visit to Rwanda and asked about her mom's welfare. She told me about the difficulties her mom was having with no water. Paccy is incredibly shy; we converse very slowly due to our language challenges. I told her we would try to raise money to install a rainwater collection system for her mom. Her eyes welled up, she lowered her head, and tears began to fall onto her lap. We were silent for several moments. When she finally brought her head back up she smiled, I smiled, and the dream was in motion.
By August Rwanda-one4one was able to fund the water system. Paccy managed the project, sending images and receipts as the work progressed. We paid for a 500 liter tank, a cement platform, piping, and a secure brick enclosure. Rain from the roof flows via a gutter to the tank. Last week we received this message and these photos from Paccy:
She told me to tell you that you did a great thing in her life even in our family.
God bless you so much!!! She missed manner to thank you!!! But God will give his eternal life and too much blessings at this earth.
This is the power of Rwanda one-4-one. We make personal connections with the families we serve and identify opportunities to help them solve intractable challenges, enabling them to be more independent.
Mom at her water tank
Paccy and her Mom
Brick structure holds the water tank next to house
Akim is one of the youngsters we are supporting through Rwanda-one4one for education each year. He was born in 2013, but sadly his mother died during childbirth from complications. Postpartum hemorrhage, complications of prematurity and fetal distress are among the main causes of maternal mortality in Rwanda plus the inability to afford hospital care often resulting in at home births and after-care. Akim’s grandmother, at 65 years of age, became his legal guardian and caregiver on his day of birth.
Akim’s family contacted me in late 2013 as their family cow had died and they were dependent on cow’s milk for Akim and the other children as a protein source. They couldn’t afford milk formula let alone a new cow. Through swift and generous donations, we raised funds to buy a new cow, interim assistance to purchase milk locally for Akim and to provide improvements to the cow shed. Within a few months a new cow was at the home and milk was available again.
In 2016, the family noticed Akim’s legs were not lengthening and growing straight. We assisted in having the doctor fit him for leg braces to help correct the issue. In part, lack of mother’s colostrum was a factor. Although this was setback, Akim made up for it in spirit and enthusiasm!
Akim started school at 3 years of age. It is customary for Rwandan children to begin attending school at an early age. For half days, they go to school by foot, learn to carry a backpack and learn very simple school lessons. Now Akim is 6 years old and attends a local school in his village where his grade this year is a B+. He is bright, attentive and enjoys studying. Akim is pictured on his way to school this trimester, dressed neatly and standing straight! He is growing stronger both physically and emotionally. He still lives with his grandmother.
Rwanda-one4one takes a great interest in how well Akim and all the children are doing both in their daily lives and at school. This is the heart of our work and support to the families we are involved with. Thank you for your care and support. It is a blessing they are deeply thankful for.
I first met Agape and Vania in 2014 when they were in primary school at 9 and 11 years of age, respectively. I brought small gifts for the children, and when I gave Vania a jumprope she was so happy, giving me the biggest hug ever. I remember being so humbled that such a simple gift could mean so much to a young girl. Vania and her siblings lost their parents post-genocide. They have been raised by their grandmother. Agape and her siblings, live with their mom. Their father died in a car accident in 2013.
Each year when I visit the families in Rwanda, it is delightful to see all the kids growing up and attending school all year. On my recent visit most of the kids were speaking some English with me as it is now a required course in many of the school programs. Learning English in Rwanda will be a great asset as they continue their studies through secondary school and beyond. They also study French and their native language, Kinyarwanda.
Vania and Agape came to visit me one day in April during my stay. They both were on their way back to school and wanted to say goodbye. Agape has been accepted into a good boarding school, and will only visit her family in the few holidays each year. She stays at school, focusing on studies only. Agape is shown in her school uniform as she was leaving for school just after our visit. Vania is attending day school in another district which started the following day.
Providing funds for education is at the heart of our mission through Rwanda-one4one. Attending above average schools will bring them greater chances to attend university and securing work opportunities upon graduation. We are now able to fund 16 children's annual school fees, books and uniforms. Thank you so much for your financial support, both one-time donations and also monthly recurring donations. Your heart and generosity brings stability and hope to our families in Rwanda. How beautiful that is!
April 7th, 2019 marks the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Kwibuka means Remember in Kinyarwanda.
On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Genocide erupted overnight. Hutu extremists began executing their master plan: to destroy the entire Tutsi civilian population. Political leaders who might have quelled or temporarily stymied the movement were among the first to be killed. Tutsi and people suspected of being Tutsi, were killed in their homes, roadblocks, farmlands and churches. Planned use of rape by HIV-infected men was used as a weapon of mass extermination.
Today, seventy percent of Rwanda’s population is under the age of 35 years of age. The future of Rwanda is in the hands of the youth.
Annually, Rwanda-one4one commits to funding school fees, uniforms and books for the children in our Rwandan families. In 2015, we funded the school fees for 4 children. In 2019, we are now funding 16 children's school fees. We know every child and their families. Each trimester we receive report cards to measure their success at school.
Your generous support allows our Rwandan children to attend school, and more importantly not worry about if theycan attend school. They are free to wake up each morning, put on their school uniforms and go to school each day, from kindergarten to 12th grade, and sleep each night with dreams of success in their hearts. Your kindness means everything to the youth of Rwanda, a new generation evolving.
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