Children
 Rwanda
Project #10392

Helping Rwandan Children out of Poverty

by HANDS AROUND THE WORLD
Vetted
Teaching English at Muko School
Teaching English at Muko School

This was my third trip to Rwanda and once again, it was a pleasure to help with English language teaching in Bugarama.

We were greeted in Kamembe by some old friends including Wellars, Jean and Georgine. It was great to see all of them again. We took taxis from Kamembe to Bugarama and settled in to our accommodation. On my previous visits, we had stayed at St. Francoise, but this time we stayed in a house in Bugarama. On the one hand, this meant that we didn’t have to spend an hour or so travelling from St. Francoise to Bugarama each day, which made things easier. Not that it was a bad commute of course…. Travelling through the Rwandan countryside with sweeping views over the hills is quite a good way to travel to work every day!

 As with previous visits, the emphasis was on building the teachers’ communicative competence by focussing on grammar and vocabulary and then using speaking activities to allow them to make active use of the language which they had learned. Between 10 and 25 teachers attended each day. The lowest attendance was on the first Friday, which was due to heavy rain and the highest attendance was on the final day.

Overall, this was an enjoyable visit. It was really good to see that there had been improvements in the level of English of some of the teachers, especially the lower level ones. It was also good to see how much progress had been made on the building works, especially at Mirabura school which is now very different to the first time I visited it in 2015.

 

Ideas for the future

  • Continued English Language support for teachers. Not only teachers from Muko, but also other teachers in the future

  • A focus on methodology used for teachers with a higher level of English

  • Collaborative teaching with a native speaker

  • Provision of teaching resources such as flashcards and dictionaries with the possible creation of a self-study area for teachers to improve their level of English in their own time

  • Of course, the ideal would be to have a teacher present at the school for a longer period of time who could be involved in providing English language support to pupils and teachers.

 

Ceri Thomas

On the 13th of November there will be a team of four volunteers going to continue the work at Muko School. We have once again managed to include Ceri an English teacher who will be teaching the teachers, not only from this school, but also from other schools in the area. This teaching program has proved to be very successful over the last few years, is well attended and appreciated by all that are present.

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

The School’s principal has requested that completing the building of the perimeter wall remain a priority, this is helping to reduce damage to the classrooms out of school hours, and also prevent flooding of the classrooms during the rainy season.

There are still a number of classrooms with mud floors which would benefit from being concreted. These classrooms have no windows, only a hole in the wall which does not allow adequate ventilation. Larger windows would of course also benefit the 40-60 pupils who study in there.

Last year we were able to raise enough funds to build some additional toilets; also a replacement kitchen block, which although still rather basic, allows beans and rice to be cooked for the senior students. Additional water tanks are still required, to allow washing after using the toilets. The general cleaning, painting and repairing is still ongoing.

Nearly all of this work is carried out by the local team, with all materials being bought locally. Obviously finances are required to carry out this work, although all of our volunteers pay their own expenses and fares.

If you have in the past made a donation this very well worthy cause - well done! I thank you, and look forward to updating you further on our return.

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 david@hatw.org.uk

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
It's hard to say Goodbye!
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

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

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.