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 Children  Rwanda Project #10392

Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty

by HANDS AROUND THE WORLD
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Inter school basketball competition
Inter school basketball competition

Later this week, we are expecting confirmation from Jersey Overseas Aid for their grant funding of our projects in Bugarama later this year. We presented them with an ambitious three-year programme which includes three major construction projects in three different schools as well as some smaller projects. We have worked very hard with the Chief Executive Officer at JOA to provide substantial information on the needs analysis and the impact which these projects will bring, as well as the assurance that the procurement processes will be fair and transparent and the budget estimates reasonable and rigorous. This has entailed a great deal of correspondence going backward and forward to our partners in Rwanda and we are confident that we have presented a package of proposals which the Commission can accept.

Our main construction project starting later this year will provide Muko School with six additional classes which will provide an increased choice of advanced level subjects and enable more students to progress to year twelve in secondary education.

In addition, we will be working at a smaller scale project in Ryankana School, where we will be renovating existing classrooms, improving the teaching and learning environment by putting in new doors and windows, plastering the walls and providing covered verandas outside. The construction of new classrooms here next year is part of our three-year plan.

In the meantime, back in Jersey, our team of eight volunteers has been hard at work raising additional sums to contribute to the above works. We have taken on two large painting jobs as well as a large garden transformation project. These works enable the team to bond together before our visit to Bugarama in November. In addition, we have done a bed push through St Helier one Saturday morning, giving out balloons and shaking our buckets. We even had a gorilla in tow. We also held a very successful Quiz Night.

Back in Bugarama, one of last year’s projects was the construction of a basketball/volleyball court at Muko School, following on from the one we built at Mihabura three years ago. This has spawned an inter-school multi-sport tournament, which is now coming to its conclusion. Competition has been fierce, but it seems Muko will triumph in the inaugural year.

Bed push in St Helier - with gorilla in background
Bed push in St Helier - with gorilla in background
Celebrating last year
Celebrating last year's project at Muko

We are currently planning our next project visit to Bugarama in November later this year. Once again, we are hoping to take a small group of volunteers with us. We already have four volunteers signed up, including one from Zambia who has been supporting one of our projects there and is keen to see how we operate elsewhere. We have been advertising in the local media in Jersey and through Facebook and have an information evening at the end of April.

Our project this year in Muko St Paul School is a complex and challenging one. Muko has expanded enormously in the past few years, growing to over 3,200 pupils ranging from Nursery intake to Advanced Senior classes, preparing students for university. The popularity of the school reflects its success in national exams as well as the pride in the improving infrastructure of the school and it’s been wonderful to see the development of the school over the past ten years.

Muko is answering the Rwandan government demands to expand secondary education for all young people as well as to phase out the double shift system at primary level whereby pupils only receive half a day’s schooling to allow others to come to school in the afternoons. Additional classrooms are urgently required to meet these improvements.

The challenge the school now faces is how to provide those additional classrooms in a confined space. There is no room left on the school site which is hemmed in by houses on three sides and a main road on the other. The only solution is to build on top of existing buildings. This is a complex engineering task and we must ensure that the contractors are sufficiently skilled to ensure that the construction is safe and secure. We will have a trusted project coordinator on site throughout the project.

Once again, we are grateful for the ongoing support of Jersey Overseas Aid who provide the main source of funding. Our volunteers will actually be working at another school in the town helping with renovation and painting. Ryankana faces the same challenges as Muko – and that will be part of our continuing support for educational development and transformation in Bugarama.

Having returned from another successful visit to Bugarama just before Christmas last year, it was time for volunteers to meet together and discuss achievements as well as future plans.

Adhering to the three-year plan that has been drawn up, extensive refurbishments were carried out in 2018 at seven classrooms at Kibangira School. Also, maintenance work was carried out on an outside washing area at Muko School. New boilers were installed in the kitchens to prepare and serve the daily cooked food in more hygienic manner, which sadly is still only available to the 1000 secondary students. Unfortunately, due to the lack of classrooms, the remaining 2300 primary students can only attend for half days, and therefore do not receive any food. Plans for this year include building further classrooms for this school.

Another school in the area is Ryankana, a primary school with over 2100 students in only 20 classrooms. These students also only attend on a half day basis. There are only 32 long drop unhygienic toilets for all these students and no kitchens, which means no meals can be provided. Many of the classrooms at Ryankana are in a very poor condition, with mud floors and holes in the walls that serve as windows, providing inadequate ventilation for the children to be able to study. Our volunteers along with the help of local labor can make some improvements by laying floors and installing windows.

Over the many years that Hands Around The World volunteers have been working in this area, we have seen many changes and vast improvements. Not only in the school buildings, but also in the students attendance, which is due to the much improved school conditions.

We continue to work relentlessly to raise funds to develop these schools, but financial help is always needed. All our volunteers continue to self-finance these trips, and they always employ local labor whilst working on these projects.

Any donations received go directly to the projects. All our members are volunteers and we have no administration costs.

Thank you for your support.

Classroom in Mubera
Classroom in Mubera

We have been holding discussions with the Rotary Club of Jersey about a long-term project which will potentially transform one of the schools on the outskirts of Bugarama.

Mubera Primary school, located in Gikundamvura Sector, Rusizi District, Rwanda, currently with 455 pupils and 11 teachers. The school is situated in a remote area, on a hillside, with difficult road access. The school has expanded quickly from its foundation in 2008 and has doubled its number of pupils since 2011. The poor-quality original construction materials are crumbling away and the dilapidated classrooms are some of the worst we have seen in Rwanda.

We first visited the school two years ago when the local Parish Priest, Father Felix, tried to get us interested in undertaking a project there. Our original thoughts were that the conditions were too difficult for us to be able to send a team of volunteers there. In addition, the school needed more than just a few new buildings. The expectations of the local community were low – no pupils from Mubera had ever achieved good enough grades to transfer to secondary school. Pupils often missed school to help their parents working in the fields as there was little confidence in education.

Following a visit to Mubera from a member of the Rotary Club in Jersey interest has been generated in a plan to give the school a huge uplift, not just with new a few new classrooms. Proposals include support for a school meals programme which will encourage parents to send their children to school and improve general attendance. A kitchen will be needed. There will be a commitment to sponsor any student who gains secondary qualification to allay parents’ fears that they would be unable to afford the fees. There is little attraction for teachers to stay at the school so building teacher accommodation has been put forward. This needs further discussion with the local authorities as this is a novel idea in Rwanda.

For children who leave primary school there is little prospect in the area except to help their parents with subsistence farming. Another planned initiative is to develop a vocational training section at the school to offer courses in masonry, carpentry, painting, needlework and tailoring.

Finally, the plan includes a sports court for basketball, volleyball and netball. We have seen in other local schools the sense of pride that comes from such a facility.

All of this doesn’t come cheap of course. The overall project will probably amount to £90,000 over four years. This is an ambitious scheme for Rotary to undertake. Hands Around The World will work in partnership with Rotary, making the most of our local contacts. Rotary also hope to get some Rotary members from Kigali interested in supporting their project. Hopefully, some representatives from the Rotary of Jersey will pay a visit to Bugarama – there is nothing like personal knowledge to inspire yet more visions of what can be achieved

Celebrations at School
Celebrations at School

A team of HATW volunteers from Jersey Channel Islands will be returning to Bugarama again in November this year to continue our programme of development in schools in and around the town. We have now prepared a three-year programme of improvements taking in all five local schools.

Last year we expanded our reach to two new schools, at Kibangira and Nyakagoma, where we were able to build five new classrooms at each school with the benefit of assistance from Jersey Overseas Aid. We will be working at both of these schools again, refurbishing old existing classrooms at Kibangira and improving the landscaping at groundworks at Nyakagoma which will help to prevent soil erosion during the rainy season.

When we first visited Kibangira a couple of years ago the buildings were in a very neglected state – one had even lost one of its walls. The new classrooms there are an outward sign of a transformation of the school, supported by the Rwandan government which has installed electricity earlier this year. We have been able to provide three second hand computers and a photocopier. Next year our plans include a full-scale ICT centre. The teachers and the pupils have discovered real pride in their school.

Meanwhile, at Muko School this year we will be providing a multi-use sports area, with concrete base, for basketball, netball and volleyball. We have seen the impact this facility has had on Mihabura School where the same sports facility was provided a couple of years ago. This ever-expanding school desperately needs additional facilities besides basic classrooms. Next year’s plans include more new classrooms, this time extending upwards by providing a second storey on existing buildings - it’s the only sensible way to expand given the pressures on land in Rwanda.

There is no additional building work at Mihabura this year – but we are providing financial support for the school feeding programme. This has been key to the school’s recent success in boosting attendance and in improved exam results, making this one of the most successful schools in the region.

The schools in Bugarama are a model of achievement. Each year when we visit we see growing pride and self-confidence. Hands Around the World is proud to support them. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Please help us continue to make a huge difference in the lives of these children.

Kibangira old classroom
Kibangira old classroom
Kibangira new classrooms
Kibangira new classrooms
 

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Organization Information

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
David Steiner
Executive Officer
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom

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