Project #10392

Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty

Last Year
Last Year's English Class

It's now very likely that there will once again be a small group of volunteers returning to help at Muko School in Bugarama for several weeks before Christmas.

Probably a group of four in all, one of whom is a TEFL specialist keen to return to teach English to the teachers of this school and others in surrounding areas. In Rwanda the first language is Kinyarwanda and the second is French, but in recent years the government has promoted a move to become English-speaking and has joined the Commonwealth. Our teaching programme has proved to be very successful over the last few years; it is well attended and appreciated by all participants.

The remaining volunteers, along with a local labour force, will continue with the maintenance program that has transformed the school for its 1700 pupils.

Last year we were able to raise enough funds to build a replacement kitchen block which, although still basic by western standards, allows beans and rice to be cooked for the senior school students.

Additional toilets and water tanks have also now been installed, which allows hand washing after using the long-drop toilets.

The school has asked that completing the perimeter wall remain a priority - this is helping to reduce damage to the classrooms, and also flooding of the classrooms during the rainy season.

The general cleaning, painting and repairing is still ongoing.

Of course all of this work has to be financed, and any donations are much appreciated. Our volunteers pay their own expenses and fares.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support!

The School floods easily in the rainy Season
The School floods easily in the rainy Season
Children of Bugarama
Children of Bugarama

Once again, my thoughts are turning to another visit to Muko School in Bugarama in the autumn.

We will hopefully be a group of four volunteers, including one returner who will again teach English to the teachers of Muko and the other schools in surrounding areas. This teaching program has proved to be very successful over the last few years, is well attended and appreciated by all present.

The other volunteers along with a local labour force will continue with the very successful maintenance program that has transformed the school to a good standard for its 1700 pupils.

Last year we were able to raise enough funds to build some additional toilets, plus a replacement kitchen block (by western standards still rather basic but it allows beans and rice to be cooked for the senior students). Additional water tanks have now been installed for washing in the toilets. The perimeter wall that has been a priority for the last three years is now nearing completion, and general cleaning, painting and repairing is still ongoing.

Would you like to volunteer to come with us? Or do you know someone who would? It's a great experience, very fulfilling and extremely worthwhile. Get in touch now on 01600 740317 or email

All of this work has to be financed, and although all of our volunteers pay their own expenses and fares, all donations are of course much appreciated! Thank you for your support.

All the Team with shirts given by the School
All the Team with shirts given by the School

Our idea of what it would be like volunteering in Rwanda was similar to our first view of Kigali from the air – rather foggy! But like the sky above the runway, things soon became clear as we settled into a happy month teaching English in Bugarama, a small town in the SW corner of Rwanda.

Wendy writes:
Before we left England, seasoned Hands Around the World volunteers told us that the most rewarding aspect of the volunteering experience would be forming relationships with the people we would meet. As I look back now on our time in Rwanda, I have to agree. I think of:

Thierry with his big grin and black homburg hat, festooned with our multiple cameras, enthusiastically taking pictures of and for us all while simultaneously talking on his mobile phone!

Carpophole with his deep voice (a gentle giant), showing us the books he looks after in Muko School library (meagre by European standards but a source of great pride to him).

Wellars with his quiet smile, meticulously translating a Kinyarwanda sermon for us during a 3.5 hour church service. (I will remember those five key points he translated long after most English sermons have faded from memory)

Jean and his wife with their amazing hospitality, welcoming us into their home to meet their gorgeous toddler twin girls and presenting us with lovely matching outfits - made by a local tailor to measurements cunningly obtained via a note from an anonymous well wisher (alias Jean)!

Our students (experienced teachers themselves), patiently welcoming our efforts to learn their names. Always enthusiastic ... lively ... keeping us on our toes. “Teacher, you told us meals in English are called ‘lunch and supper’, but here on my phone Google says they can be ‘dinner’ and ‘tea’.” Oops, Felix, you’re right - hasty explanation needed!

Georgine and Japhet, heads of Muko and Mihabura Schools – hospitable, generous, humbling us with their welcome and appreciation of our efforts

Joel, Esther, Rehema, Rachel, Louise – and others too many to mention (working with fellow volunteers Dennis and Myfanwy to improve the school buildings) - our lunchtime companions, singing with us in an impromptu choir, playing games and sports with us, and laughing kindly at our unsuccessful attempts to walk with a bowl on our head... something they manage with effortless grace

Children ... everywhere - eager, laughing, grabbing our hands and then running away, startled by their own boldness. The parents too that we met in the market or on the streets of Bugarama – their initial shyness of the “muzungu” (white person) replaced with a beaming smile when I greeted them in my (albeit scanty) Kinyarwanda.
I loved Rwanda – its beautiful scenery, sunshine, interesting culture. But most of all, I loved the Rwandan people. They have very few of the things we would consider essential for a good life in material terms, but they have a large measure of warmth, friendliness, good humour and love that means they find their way very quickly into your heart. Why was I feeling tearful singing a song at church back in England, I wondered. Oh yes, I know ... it’s because the last time I sang that song it was in a dusty classroom in a far-off little African town with people who have become my friends. And I miss them!

Peter writes:
What can I add when my wife has already said it all?
A few thoughts about the experience do occur to me.

The first is - given that we were only there for a month - how little we were able to contribute to the development of Rwanda. It is true that we probably improved our students’ English slightly and probably, with that, their appreciation of the mindset of somewhat elderly English folk! However that was as nothing compared with what I learned of my own faith, philosophy and personality from the act of giving rather than receiving.

Although I have visited several African countries, this was the first time that I actually spent my days in their homes and schools, living and working alongside their citizens and children, getting to know them. I cannot pretend that this makes me some sort of expert on the subject but what it did do was to give me a new viewpoint from which I could observe my native land and its history, economy and its people in a new light.

I came back to the UK via Heathrow to find myself in the middle of the nation where few people actually spoke to one another or looked one another in the eye, let alone smiled. Many of them looked very overweight and inactive, a sure sign of malnourishment if ever there was one! There was not a single child playing in the streets. Perhaps it was too cold for them although the sun was shining and I was wearing the same clothes as I had in Africa? I bought a newspaper to read on the journey home. Although this was one of the wealthiest and supposedly “advanced” countries in the world, almost every article seemed to be about poverty, inadequate housing, medical care, inadequate education or refugees. How much we could all learn in a few weeks in Bugarama!

It's hard to say Goodbye!
Eager Muko school children
Eager Muko school children

We have after many years of trying achieved one of our goals!

As stated in my July report, we are delighted to have now secured the services of three English teachers willing to join the team visiting Muko School in Bugarama in early November - they will be teaching the teachers of the School and surrounding area. Working with the help of the Headmistress and the Dean of Studies, they will be there, in the next instance, for up to four weeks.

Other members of the group will continue with the building maintenance program that has made a vast difference to this underprivileged school. Local labourers will continue with the building of the perimeter wall, which it is hoped will completed on this trip. The long-drop unhygienic toilets are still a huge problem for the children who at the moment only have a very limited number to share; fresh water storage too is a matter that will be addressed, in order to stop all the rainfall going to waste.

Each of these visiting volunteers will be self-funding - travel fares, accommodation and food expenses. But of course finance is still required to bring this school up to an acceptable level - both to pay the local labourers and for building materials.

On my return home just before Christmas I'll be reporting on our progress and look forward to adding lots of photos too!

If you have donated to this very worthy project I thank you. Please continue to help us support this school!

Many Thanks

Some of the kids from Muko School
Some of the kids from Muko School

Since this project began back in 2010, one of the main objectives of the charity is to have English teachers visit Muko School. We did manage to get two in 2011, and one this year in February. If all goes to plan, this coming November will be our most successful to date, as we are intending to take a team of five volunteers, four of whom are trained teachers including one with TEFL qualifications. These four will be working under the guidance of the school head teacher, and dean of studies; they will spend four weeks teaching the resident teachers of the school during their holiday period.

The fifth member of the group will once again (with the help of local labourers) continue with the maintenance program that is now firmly in place, the continuation of the perimeter wall having priority, Also the installation of the fresh water tanks that have previously been purchased with money donated to the charity. And there is still a lot of work to be done on the long-drop toilets. General painting, mending broken windows and doors will continue too.

All this and the general maintenance of this school in what still is a very under privileged area, still needs to be financed. Although the volunteers pay their own expenses, there is still the cost of the very enthusiastic local labour, and materials to be paid for.

If you have already donated to this project, I thank you! But more finance is always needed to allow us to continue to support this school... Please help us if you can!

Muko Classrooms needing work
Muko Classrooms needing work

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Organization Information


Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
David Steiner
Executive Officer
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom

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