Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty

by HANDS AROUND THE WORLD
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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
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty
Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty

Mike and Dennis have been back in Bugarama for the first time since the pandemic reviewing our projects and planning our interventions for the next three years.

We had a tremendous reception at each of the supported schools, none more so than at GS St Paul Muko where a brass band and choir awaited to escort us around the town, followed by music, dancing groups and even contortionists, displaying the talents of the students.

This school has been transformed since our first visit 12 years ago and now leads the district in academic achievement, sports and innovation. Led by its dynamic headteacher, Father Emmanuel, the school has enthusiatically embraced the government call to schools to supplement the school lunches programme by farming to produce their own vegetables. All children are now fed at lunchtime each day and this reinforces school attendance and achievement.

Another initiative of the headteacher has been the programme to search out and find the many street children in Bugarama who have dropped out of school due to family conflicts, bereavement or sheer poverty. 150 children now attend each day, made to feel welcomed by fellow pupils as well as staff and receive two meals a day including weekends. Two teachers are permanently assigned to look after them and provide counselling. It comes as a significant cost to the school and is something we hope to include in our strategy to support schools over the next three years.

We have had discussions with headteachers and community leaders at nine local schools, including the two brand new schools which have been built recently by the Rwandan government and World Bank to address overcrowding. Several themes have emerged:

  • One school, Bugarama Cite, the oldest school in the town, desperately needs new classrooms to replace very poor teaching and learning conditions.
  • Vocational training is a high priority where many children leave school to be unemployed.
  • Security fencing makes a big difference to protect schools from damage by outsiders and animals and also enables schools to keep students from absconding.
  • Government policy insists that all schools must provide girls' hygiene rooms to support female school attendance but most facilities are inadequate.
  • Schools have also seen the impact of the basketball/ volleyball courts we have been able to install in two schools.

The list of priorities is extensive and somehow we must whittle it down to a manageable programme which we can present to Jersey Overseas Aid, our principal funder. Our recent impact assessment study has demonstrated the effectiveness of our previous projects and we are confident of their ongoing support. We shall also try to diversify our sources of funding so that we can more adequately address the many issues we have heard about in the past few weeks which have shown us clearly the aspirations and drive of local people to reach ever higher standards in schools. 

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Second floor classrooms at Nyakagoma take shape
Second floor classrooms at Nyakagoma take shape

Hands Around The World Trustees, Dennis and Mike, will be heading to Bugarama in September. Plans to travel there in July were changed due to high air flight costs but September flights are much more reasonable.

Mike says: We are very much looking forward to renewing contacts with our friends and partners in Bugarama and Nzahaha. We will be reviewing the progress made in the school over the past three years when we have been unable to visit ourselves. The projects have continued thanks to the efforts of our local partners and Djuma, our project manager. Our latest project, second floor classrooms at Nyakagoma is forging ahead.

Also, the World Bank has made significant investments in new classrooms and facilities and we expect to see some fantastic improvements in the schools.

Jersey Overseas Aid, our principal funders, asked us to commission an independent impact assessment on the projects they grant aided between 2019 – 21 (£250,000). We have just received this report which is very positive. The report says: ‘The project’s primary focus to reduce overcrowding in targeted schools and facilitate more conducive school environments has been remarkably achieved…. Within three years the project positively impacted the lives of over 9,000 students. …. Managing such a grant was ground-breaking for HATWJ, prompting confidence to consider further scale and growth’.

There are a number of lessons to take away from this report, notably to strengthen the project’s monitoring, evaluation and learning systems and pointers for developing our future strategies. During our visit we will be reviewing the needs of the six partner schools in Bugarama and Nzahaha as well as looking at other potential partners in the area. As well as possible new classrooms we want to look at other facilities such as increasing the number of toilets for learners, girls’ hygiene rooms, kitchens, security walls, libraries, science laboratories, and sports facilities to ensure equitable and consistent provision across all our partner schools.

Assistance to buy new desks and chairs for Nyakaoma would be greatly appreciated.

The full Impact Assessment report will be available shortly on our website at www.hatwj.org.uk.

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Jersey Overseas Aid has again generously approved funding for two projects this year. The first is at Nyakagoma where we will be able to complete a block of six new classrooms by building a second floor on top of those constructed last year. The school will now be able to take secondary pupils in years S1-S3. This project is fully funded, and we are able to start this straightaway so that the new classrooms will be ready for the new school year in September.

Our second project will be back at Muko School where we will be renovating a block of six degraded classrooms. This work will include internal plastering of walls, new floors and external pavement as well as the installation of plastic ceilings. These have proven to have significant benefits for teaching and learning conditions through the reduction of noise from adjoining classrooms and rain on tin roofs.

Our renovation project will start towards the end of the year as we are committed to raising 50% of the costs, amounting to a total of £22,000. We are already halfway towards this target but still have work to do over the next few months.

Our latest fundraising initiative for this year is the opening of a charity shop in St Helier. Dennis and his friends have put in a huge amount of work transforming the shop and making it attractive. It has been open now for nearly a month so we will begin to get an idea about turnover.

Dennis and Mike are planning a visit to Bugarama in July this year, our first opportunity since lockdown. Sadly, we took the decision not to take any other volunteers this year as testing restrictions are still in force. We will be looking at developments at the schools over the past two years and planning what we can contribute next.

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Christmas at Ryankana
Christmas at Ryankana

We were delighted to be able to host the children’s Christmas party, suitably socially distanced, after the absence last year. A great time was had by all, and we are grateful to Wellars for organising everything for us.

We had hoped to be able to visit our projects in Bugarama again at long last at the end of November. However, although travel was possible again, the number of PCR tests required on arrival and departure made us reconsider.

Nevertheless, our two projects for 2021 at Nyakagoma and Mihabura have been completed and thanks goes to Djuma, our local project manager, for successfully guiding both projects.

At Nyakagoma a block of three new classrooms a new toilet have been built. This classroom block is phase one of the project and is ready to take a second floor. Economy of space is important in Rwanda which is a heavily populated country and good fields are precious. The school continues to expand. Five years ago, there was just a small nursery based in a decrepit old barn. There is now a fully functioning primary school and they are about to start taking secondary pupils once phase 2 is complete.

Our second project was at Mihabura primary school where we have helped the school to complete a security wall around the whole school.

Our next steps are to commission an independent impact assessment of the work we have carried out over the past three years. This is at the request of Jersey Overseas Aid who have been our generous sponsors, granting us £278,000 over the period. We are confident that we have a great story to tell and our partnership with the schools in Rusizi District continues to flourish.

Christmas party
Christmas party
new classrooms at Nyakagoma
new classrooms at Nyakagoma
Security wall at Mihabura
Security wall at Mihabura
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Graduation
Graduation

We have sponsored Moussa since we first met him in 2010 and we are so proud of his achievement. Here is his story in his own words:

My name is Moussa and I am one of the HATWJ sponsored students. I am born from a poor family, the 5th of 10 children with a single jobless Mom. I have been sponsored by HATWJ since 2010 when I was studying in senior two at St Paul Muko Secondary School up to now. Currently I am already finished a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine in University of Rwanda.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to you for being so generous and sponsoring my education. Really your support has been priceless, and it truly means too much to me. The financial support you offered facilitated me to pay for all of my living costs at school, it helped me to get all of my necessary required school materials and also helps me to devote more of my time for serious studying which couldn’t be possible before in my school life where sometimes I had to left from school and struggle working for wage salary to find means of living, this occasion has put me on a path to great success in my studies. I cannot forget one of my saddest time which became origin joy in my life when I won National exam for primary six level which had to permit me to attain senior one in secondary studies, I had been sent to an excellent boarding school unfortunately this was the time that my parents divorced illegally then we all 8 children stayed at home with a single Mother, it was so sorrow for 8 children to be raised by a single jobless mom for that my mother couldn’t be able to provide basic requirements for us to go at school, I remember how I went to the school with no school fees for three times and even with no some of basic school materials, consequently this led me to be chased from the school then back at home due to lack of school fees, this was a lost year in my education. But because I thought that I had not to drop out from school, the only possible option by then was that in the next year 2010 I had to apply for recruitment to the nearest school at my home village called St Paul Muko Secondary School because school fees there was somehow not expensive. This school is where I met with HATWJ in 2010, really since when HATW came into my life everything has been changed.

I made use of this sponsorship by working very hard at school. The results of your efforts to support me can be shown by my Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine that I have already awarded and which I could not afford myself as I told you above because before I met with HATW life was so difficult for my family to provide all of basic requirements for our education.

The other thing that showed how your supports has made a difference to my family is that since 2010 I was the first person in my family to continue education beyond primary six level of education as all of my 4 older sisters had dropped out from school at P6 level due to lack of means of my family. This was a such failure to my family but currently most of the rest of my young brothers and sisters are now studying. Really I thank you so much for sponsoring me.

As I can see in my future life, this great achievement shall bright my future. In veterinary profession I can see so many job opportunities that I believe will turn my dream coming true. I need to create a self-employment by setting a veterinary pharmacy where farmers will be buying medicines and animal feed, I will be also working on field facilitating farmers in prescribing medications and treating their animals, I do believe for sure that this will provide me all means to look after myself and my family, I also wish one day to be able to give a my hand to people who live struggling with life like how I was.

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HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Michael Haden
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom
$3,559 raised of $42,000 goal
 
47 donations
$38,441 to go
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