Rwanda Aid – Drawstring Bag Project.
Mwaramutse – Good morning in Kinyarwanda.
Rwanda is one of the fifty four countries in Africa, Central Africa, between Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Burundi and can fit into the United Kingdom nine times. Over 11 million people live in Rwanda.
It is also known as the country of a thousand hills, and when visiting some of the remote schools in Rwanda, it felt as if we had travelled across at least half of them.
Last year, I was given the amazing opportunity to go with eight other teachers to South West Rwanda for a few weeks to visit some schools in rural areas which Rwanda Aid supports. We went to teach the local children at a handful of different schools and train 54 of the local Rwandan teachers during the second week. We also visited the Baho Neza Mwana Street Children Village, the Ngwino Nawe Disabled Village and the Nkombo Nursery. There we introduced some of the children to paint for the first time in their lives, sang songs and played games with them.
It was a very humbling experience to meet all those children and teachers and to contribute to creating a better learning environment for all of them. To reach some of these schools in remote villages in the rain forest, we had to travel for hours on very bumpy, gravel and winding roads.
We were met by hundreds of delighted faces and taught; sometimes 80 children at a time all cramped into one classroom with sometimes no windows, wooden slats for walls and a floor made of mud. They have no running water or electricity. Their toilet is a mere hole in the ground. Many of these children walk for up to two hours to get to school every morning and back home every afternoon.
Can we imagine our own children doing that?
When I was there last year, I noticed that many of the children were clinging to their notebook and pen the entire time; even when they were out in the playground, running, playing and skipping rope with us. Some also carried a yellow water can with them to collect water on their way back home from school.
The notebooks and pens are their most prized possessions, and they are unable to replace them when lost. I realised that was the reason why they held on to their possessions so carefully: they simply cannot afford to replace these when lost and the government does not provide for them.
How would any of our children be able to learn if there were no books in which to practise their handwriting or to practise their Maths skills? These children do their best to memorise each and every formula and fact because they are unable to write it down - notebooks are simply too expensive to buy.
I need your help to help them. I am part of a small group of teachers that are again going out to Rwanda on the 16th of July 2014 and hoping to take drawstring bags with us to as many children as possible. Our aim is to take at least a thousand drawstring-bags. £1.50 will buy a bag, one notebook and a pen.
How amazing would it be if you could help them to free their hands to be able to catch a ball, run and climb trees? They would also be able to carry their books in their drawstring bags when walking home for hours in the pouring rain and on dusty roads.
Please take a moment of your time and look at my short video clip on YouTube called Rwanda Aid Charity 2014. It is photographs of some of the lovely children of Rwanda, where you can see them holding their books and pens. You will also notice some new purpose built classrooms, and the happy faces of the children whose lives have been changed through the work of Rwanda Aid.
Rwanda Aid is a registered Charity No. 1124634
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