Paul and Ruth Johnson working in Rwanda – follow their blog on the Equip Facebook page.
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Sandrine is a bright, bubbly Rwandan girl, always smiling, giggling and enjoying life.
This has not always been the case. Now 17 years old, her education was severely disrupted when she contracted typhoid as a child. She was so ill that she had to drop out of school and was unable to go back, even after she recovered as she had fallen so far behind. This gave her no prospects or future other than to farm the land as both her parents still do.
The fourth of six children, Sandrine then heard about Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School. Keen to take up a place on the hairdressing course, she and her family had to work hard to raise enough money to pay the transport to Kigali. She lives in a village in the furthest part of Rwanda from the capital and it takes a whole day to travel the distance. The cost of the transport was such that five others from her village who wanted to start the course with her, simply could not afford to get to the school. Although Sandrine was able to get to Kigali, she will not be able to afford to go home to see her family for the whole year.
Sandrine is now happily studying her chosen course which is fully paid for by Equip supporters and which will enable her to start her own business in the future. She also studies English, Religious Studies and IT. Watching her in lessons, we saw for ourselves how diligent a student she is and how much she has learned. The familiar smile breaks out across her pretty face when she is asked if the school has lived up to her expectations? It is "very wonderful" she says softly and tips her head back, continuing to smile.
Can you help fund a school place? Please visit our website to donate or click the donate button on our Facebook page. Just £15 a month will support a young person like Sandrine. ... See MoreSee Less
Augustine is quiet, gentle and godly man who makes a big impact on you when you meet him. He is the Director of Studies at Equip's Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School. At a guess, he is probably about 70 years old and he has seen a lot of life. He smiles all the time and enjoys practising his English, always keen to engage visitors in conversation. Not surprising as he teaches English. I have watched some of his lessons and looked at his planning - both were superb. His energy in the classroom for an older colleague was amazing as he circulated among this pupils, supporting them in their work.
Rwandan by birth he fled his home country in the early 1980s. Much is remembered about the 1994 genocide but this is a country that has had generations of tension going back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the time of Rwanda's independence in 1962, tens of thousands of people, primarily Tutsis, had taken refuge in neighbouring states to escape the violence which had accompanied the gradual coming into power of the Hutu community.
A new cycle of ethnic conflict and violence continued after independence. Tutsi refugees in Tanzania and Zaire, seeking to regain their former positions in Rwanda, began organizing and staging attacks on Hutu targets and the Hutu government. Ten such attacks occurred between 1962 and 1967, each leading to retaliatory killings of large numbers of Tutsi civilians in Rwanda and creating new waves of refugees. By the end of the 1980s some 480,000 Rwandans had become refugees, primarily in Burundi, Uganda, Zaire and Tanzania. Augustine, then a young man, was one of them.
He describes himself as Manchester United fan, particularly he is keen to emphasise, in the Beckham era, and as we chat he reminisces about his own youthful sporting achievements in his near perfect English. He looks back nostalgically and it brings a twinkle to his eyes as he remembers the competitions he took part in and the trophies he won.
He returned to Rwanda in 2006, keen to come back and help rebuild his homeland after a quarter of a century living in Tanzania. Having spent many years as a Bible College lecturer, he now spends his days teaching the next generation of Rwandans. They both love and respect him.
Augustine earns just £100 a month. With that he has to feed his young family. His youngest children are just 12 and 8 years old and he has to pay for their education too. He lives close by to the school, in a typical rural Rwandan home. There is no running water in these houses and his food comes mainly from what can be grown.
Augustine is giving his older years to ensure our students have a God focused education which will enable them to determine their own futures. In his own words he says" I am grateful to be able to teach at the secondary school. Please ask if there is anyone else who can help us with this vision."
Can you give just £15 a month to help him?
Ruth ... See MoreSee Less
Meet Pacifique. He is 19 years old, friendly, popular and a great footballer. A Rwandan, he was brought up in the east of this beautiful country, close to the Tanzanian border. His parents are still subsistence farmers with seven children to feed. Pacifique is the second eldest in the family. He comes from a Christian family and his father plays the guitar in their local church.
When Pacifique heard about Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School in Kigali he desperately wanted the opportunity to learn new skills that would enable him to help support his family but so did many others from his village. His church leaders had the difficult job of choosing just one young person to take up a place at the school as there was no funding for any more. They needed to choose the person who would learn most effectively as who ever took up the place would need to teach others these skills when they returned to the village at the end of the year.
Pacifique was chosen as the best student to enrol on the construction course. He knows how privileged he is and is thrilled that he will now be able to help feed his six brothers and sisters as well as pass on his knowledge to others in his village.
With more funding, more young men and women could enrol - could you fund a place for just £15 a month? That's about 50p a day - less than a bottle of mineral water. Please visit our website to donate or click the donate button on our Facebook page.
Thank you. ... See MoreSee Less
Can You Help?
All over Rwanda you can see children in their uniforms walking to and from school. But you can also see many children for whom school is just a dream. They have no uniform, no education, no opportunity. They simply can't afford it. They will inevitably follow in the footsteps of their parents in continuing to farm the land. They will never have the skills to be more than subsistence farmers.
And even if these children had the money there are not enough secondary schools to serve the rapidly growing generation of young people, which is why Equip has funded a new school in the rural suburbs of Kigali. Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School gives students the chance to learn skills that will enable them to move to a level above subsistence farming.
Can you help fund a school place? Please visit our website www.equipuk.org to donate or click the donate button on our Facebook page. Just £15 a month will support a young person to go to school. ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 6 new photos.
Market Day in Rwanda
For most Rwandans life consists of subsistence farming. They live on the crops they grow from the land around them. Some produce enough to take to market for informal trading and make a little extra money.
The nation's vision is to transform from a subsistence agricultural economy to a knowledge-based society, with higher levels of savings and private investment, thereby reducing the country's dependence on external aid.
Equip is working to support this vision. KSV School gives students the chance to learn skills that will enable them to move to a level above subsistence farming. All of last year's students now have jobs or have started their own businesses.
Can you help the next generation do the same? Please visit our website www.equipuk.org to donate or click the donate button on our Facebook page. Just £15 a month will support a young person to make this change.
Thank you. ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 3 new photos — with Paul Johnson and Rv Joseph Karasanyi Nyarwaya.
Today is our last day in Kigali for a while although we plan to be back soon.
This morning we were off to the printers again to finalise all the school monitoring reports. Documents in Rwanda have to have a look of officialdom about them if they are to be taken seriously by the government. Everything has be to be signed and stamped. We learned this some years ago and ensured that Equip has a proper ink stamp to make our voice heard. Simple but true! Signing also has to be in blue ink to avoid any sense of the fact it could be a photocopy of an original.
Lunch at Mille Collines Hotel, made famous by the film Hotel Rwanda, gave us a chance to reflect on the progress we have made and to discuss with Bishop Joseph Karasanyi what the next steps are. We had been thrilled to learn that all of last year's cohort of vocational students have either found work or started their own businesses. Remember, these are young people who had failed in the secondary system and had no future prospects before they attended KSV school. We will need to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the reports and mobilise our fundraisers to continue sustain and extend this level of impact.
The Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School has a capacity to take 240 pupils but lack of transport is proving one of the biggest obstacles to children being able to attend this specialist provision. Your monthly support could make a difference.
The students also need more computers which would not only improve their IT skills but support the development of their English language. Once again your monthly support could make a difference.
Student accommodation is also a high priority. Whilst here we have looked carefully at the best way to provide this and have some embryonic plans. Not surprisingly more finance will be required - please consider whether you can be one of our regular monthly givers. Visit our website on www.equipuk.org to find out more.
And so it's time to for me to sign off for now. Thank you for reading my blog, liking our page and engaging with our posts.
Equip will still post regular updates so you can be kept informed. Please continue to like and share.
Ruth ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 7 new photos — with Paul Johnson and Rv Joseph Karasanyi Nyarwaya.
We woke to a rainbow over Kigali. I never fail to be reminded of this being the sign of God's blessing and faithfulness to us.
First job was to get to the printers - a five minute task in the UK can take a lot longer here in Africa . The next time you press print on your printer you may like to reflect on the fact it took us almost two hours this morning to get four copies of the draft report for the secondary school run off. Patience is indeed a virtue!
Then off to buy lunch for the staff for whom we were hosting some training this afternoon. There are no food facilities at the school, in fact not even running water so anything we wanted we had to take with us.
Then a stop off for the loo at a hotel before heading up our bumpy road once again - the school only has pit latrines and I am afraid some of my western sensitivities remain.
On arriving at KSV school we were welcomed in the usual warm fashion, everybody wanted to shake our hands and greet us. In the same way as we did yesterday we started by meeting with education officials - the government had also inspected the school this week and we were pleased to see many of our findings were similar.Teaching is good overall but much is hindered by lack of resources. 28 students share just four computers for example, in an IT class which pushes the teacher's skills to the limit of his expertise. We discussed how best Equip might support in the future and hopefully encouraged the staff with our feedback.
We took lunch altogether as a group of teachers - they were grateful for the water, samosas, chapatis and fruit we had purchased and little was said while we ate. Food is clearly to be respected here.
After lunch Paul led a session on assessment and student tracking. As he waded through spreadsheets and data it seemed rather incongruous to sit with a teacher who had her baby strapped tightly to her back throughout the entire session. But then this is Africa. The training was well received - formative assessment seems to be a new concept to them and they were quiet excited about being able to monitor student progress effectively and for it to be able to inform their planning and any required intervention.
Our final task of the day was to walk the boundary of the 17 acre site in which the school sits. So much has changed since I first saw this land back in 2009. Purchased as a piece of land where no blood was shed during the genocide, Equip has ambitious plans to build new classroom blocks, student and staff accommodation, health provision and sporting facilities. However for now, much of the land, originally bush land, is farmed to provide food for the local community, mainly maize and sorghum. Everything grows in this rich, fertile soil. We waded through these six foot high grass plants seeing an occasional papaya, mango or banana tree, as we skirted the boundary lines. Joseph has plans to plant more banana trees to make the parts of the land where we cannot build profitable.
The people in this community are poor, very poor. Whilst only about 30 minutes away from the expensive, new hotels that now litter the centre of Kigali, the contrast is huge. Women and children crowd around the small streams collecting water for cooking and washing in large yellow plastic containers. Young men then drag these up the hill on laden, battered bicycles or the women and children carry them home. Life is hard. Electricity has recently arrived to the area but water has yet to be piped here.
There are children everywhere, dirty, friendly and bemused by the appearance of two Muzungu. It is a poignant reminder of the people Equip is aiming to serve.
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. " A parable of Jesus in Matthew 25.
Ruth ... See MoreSee Less
I pray that God will bless all the children in these schools and prosper all those who give to us by His mercy
I am grateful for my place in the primary school and I am hoping, one day, to be president.
I am grateful for the land that has been provided. It provides food for our families and a school for our children. There is hope for our future.
Thank you Equip. We have the chance to go to school and develop our education. We want to speak English and use the computer.
I am an English teacher and I am grateful to be able to teach at the secondary school. Please ask if there is anyone else who can help us with this vision. They would be most welcome in Rwanda.