Thursday, 1 December 2011

Building hope and optimism

Gasundwe village
Gasundwe (village)is home to approximately 200 adults and approximately 200 children.  It is known as one of the poorest villages in Rwanda.

It looks beautiful - it IS beautiful but life here is very hard and the people are subsistence farmers.

There are no nurseries, schools or colleges within the village. The nearest school is at least a 2 hour walk away through mountainous terrain.  As a result the people of the village are poorly educated and have no chance of finding work.

Rwanda is a developing country and greatly requires a workforce that is literate in English and Kinyarwanda.

Within the village there is currently no clean drinking water available – this is the cause of many illnesses. The nearest drinking water is located 4 kilometres away. The villagers have to boil all water prior to cooking which still doesn’t ensure 100% safety from harmful diseases.

There is no electricity in the village thus resulting in no lighting and heating. Cooking is carried out on open wood burning stoves which produce smoke and consequent health issues. The main reason for lack of electricity is the initial cost, the government has offered an option to assist with this supply, but given the poverty within the village this would not be achievable without outside help. We would like to purchase solar panels for the village.

Having identified the village as having more than its fair share of struggles a plan has been put into place to assist the village with help from overseas – mainly the UK.
Restoring the building

 I went to visit the village last week to look at progress so far. It was another wonderful and uplifting experience.

The building that is being restored will be used as a health centre and guest house for visitors to experience village life in Rwanda. This will generate income for the village.

We have also started a school for pre-school children so that they can have a flying start to their education. The school takes place in the church building which at present has an earthen floor and we are trying to get funds to provide a much more hygienic concrete floor.

The community has really responded to the opportunities offered to them and is so very happy and proud of what is happening – there is a real feeling of hope and optimism

The children are given sorghum porridge every day before they start their lessons.  The parents have formed a PTC (Parent Teacher Committee) which makes decisions about the school, they chose to give 1000francs each to buy kitchen equipment and the plastic beakers that the children are drinking out of. The treasurer looks after the money for the food.

I was completely amazed when a child passed me his empty beaker and just casually said ’Thankyou very much’ – in such a natural voice! These children have only been learning English since August.

Gabriel is a great teacher – kind and gentle with the children and everyone is enjoying their learning. He starts the lesson with a prayer and a song. 

The children’s English is fantastic – they are using role play to practice greetings and they also give individual speeches learned by heart. They stand boldly at the front of the class and speak out with their hands on their hips. They are so funny. 

Gabriel is using the solar powered speakers and CD player, that Phil gave him, to play the ‘English Dialogues’CD. The adults and children listen carefully and repeat the words. My only concern is that they will end up with a standard English accent instead of a northern accent!! 

Gabriel gave all the children a test at the end of term and one child got 94% and no one got less than 60% He has printed out the results and is keeping a record of everything he is doing. The community had a celebration at the end of term where Gabriel presented the adults with a certificate each for their hard work in studying English. The children were given special loaves of bread each.

If you would like further information about this project please inbox me on Facebook or e mail me on

1 comment:

  1. What a brilliant update, thanks Trish!
    ....and the photos are excellent too