Paul and Ruth Johnson are currently in Rwanda – follow their blog on the Equip Facebook page.
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Day 5 - Tuesday
A quiet day of planning for our two days of inspection later in the week spent at the Scripture Union guesthouse enjoying the fact that although there is no hot running water at our accommodation the 4G connection is excellent!
We shared most of the the day with our friendly workmen who are now infilling the trench as the pipes have been laid. We discover that the work is being completed as Scripture Union was concerned that the land behind our room was vulnerable after the latest rains. The drainage had flooded and this work is a precautionary measure to ensure that when the next rains come, the water is carried away down the hill safely.
It was a chance to reflect on what we had seen yesterday; the outworking of the vision, architectural design and curriculum planning I had been so heavily involved in during 2010 and 2011, the commitment to their studies of the students we had met, the loving care of the house mother for her charges and the pastoral support of the pastor's wife for them all. She is a quiet, pretty young woman who rode in the car with us several times. Later I learned she is genocide survivor - her parents had both been killed back in 1994. It was also a chance to start to consider how best Equip can support the project going forward. It reminded us too of how thankful we are to our generous regular donors who have made this all possible to date.
This evening will be spent learning more about the stories of these young people so we can share these with you at a later date. Meanwhile, a thank you from Joseph. ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 4 new photos.
Yesterday's visit to the students' boarding house to see where they live and to meet their house mother. As Ruth mentioned in the Day 4 blog, seven of the boys live together under adult supervision close by to the school whilst two female students sleep at the school and join the others for meals. It is very basic arrangement but for them it is working. As the numbers increase we will need to ensure a proper boarding block to accommodate them. ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 5 new photos.
Day 4 - Monday
When we woke this morning it was a slightly cooler temperature which had sent the Congolese refugees running straight for their winter coats. Still 25 degrees plus but they were huddled together in their parka jackets whilst we sat outside in T shirts. Great excitement and activity around our trench this morning too (note we now have moved to a possessive pronoun here!) with a number of visitors to inspect the hole just as we were having breakfast - it all got quite crowded!
It soon warmed up and our first port of call this morning was KSV School to meet with the headteacher, Dembe Umaru and to work with him to prepare for an inspection we will do on Thursday. A report is needed for the charity to ensure that our objectives are being met and that the standard of education being delivered is acceptable. We also want to share good practice between the two schools, both primary and secondary and identify areas that need development and/or additional funding.
Driving up to the school is always a challenge but as yesterday on our way to church, it was even more bumpy than usual with much of the road having been washed away in the recent rains and flooding. Whilst the 4x4's suspension coped, I'm not sure ours did!
We briefly joined a number of lessons - there was ample evidence of good learning going on but we will look more closely at this later in the week. However It was encouraging to see a girl in the construction class and the newly appointed teacher for tailoring was very impressive.
We were then taken to the lodgings where some of the students live with a house mother and Pastor Solomon. As previously mentioned there is a significant demand for boarding facilities and seven of the boys live together under adult supervision close by to the school whilst two female students sleep at the school and join the others for meals. It is very basic arrangement but for them it is working. As the numbers increase we will need to ensure a proper boarding block to accommodate them.
Then on to the next school, Kingdom Education Centre, to meet with Robinah Nalugya, the primary headteacher for more discussions around the monitoring and evaluation of their work we will do on Friday. It was lovely to see how much the school has grown and developed over these last five years. I also caught up with the 'Kit for Kigali' container again with its magnificent Salisbury skyline still in tact!
The final task of the day was to purchase a flag. It is the law in Rwanda for all schools to fly the national flag. If it becomes worn then the local authorities will take it down and enforce the purchase of a new one. However buying a flag is not a simple affair but a hugely bureaucratic exercise which takes hours. First a trip to the Ministry of Local Government to get permission buy one, then to the Revenue to declare the purchase, then on to the bank to pay for it and then finally back to the Ministry to collect the flag. Rwanda is a country with great national pride but Joseph was rather annoyed to discover we could have got him one back home from one click on Amazon. Next time maybe!
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Ruth ... See MoreSee Less
Equip added 4 new photos.
Day 3 - Sunday
Up early to get ready for visiting the new church that has been established using the facilities at the Kingdom Secondary and Vocational School. No need - Joseph was over an hour late because of roads being closed to accommodate the Kigali marathon. Another indicator of how the city has moved on. The trench outside our room is coming along nicely - workman back again at 7.30am even on a Sunday. They were accompanied this morning by the Germans who have moved in next door who had commandeered our table and chairs. Paul had to enter into negotiations to retrieve them. He was eventually successful!
The trip up to the school took us past the areas that have recently been devastated by the landslides. It was easy to see how there had been so many fatalities with the fragile structures on the hillsides which these Rwandans call home, tumbling down the slopes in the torrential rains that took place last month. We drove past fields of dead crops, where the flooding has also destroyed the next harvest.
And if Kigali centre has changed as mentioned in yesterday's blog, so too have the outlying areas. Roads that were completely rural with no permanent structures on them five years ago have now become an integral part of the suburbs. The government has gradually resettled families from the slums that have been demolished to make way for the improvements in the city. The already shabby houses, bars and shops along the roadside look as if they have been there forever when in fact they are probably no more than three or four years old at most. On the drive to the land before one only saw green fields and small holdings once the city had been left behind. No longer as this is now interspersed with small suburban communities moved en masse to accommodate what we call progress. The homes now have electricity - a compensation for having to move them from their birthplaces.
There was no need to worry about being late for church - the service had been put on hold until we arrived. We were made very welcome - as usual everybody wanted to shake our hand and say hello. It was a privilege to worship at this fledgling church, established only three months ago but already serving a congregation of about 100 people in a mainly Muslim community. Already there are many converts and there is now a concerted effort by the pastor, Solomon, a slight, determined, young man, to ensure that these lives which have been given to Jesus, are well discipled. He has moved into the area to live and work amongst these people.
Going to the church was my first visit to the KSV School building - my last time up on this land was when I was here for the laying of the foundation stone ceremony back in 2011. Paul has visited many times since but for me it was an emotional moment to walk in and see our architect's plans made real and to see once again the Sarum Academy furniture that had been so carefully packed into the 'Kit for Kigali' container back in the summer of 2013.
Let me assure all those involved in that project - it was very worthwhile!
Ruth ... See MoreSee Less
Day 2 - Saturday
No school or church to occupy us today so something of a rest day almost before we have got started. However an ideal opportunity to have more discussion about the development plans for KSV School albeit around a hotel pool with a drink or two in hand! Joseph is keen to harness the educational experience and expertise we bring as quickly as possible and is trying to persuade us to stay for much longer. We discuss the need for Rwanda to embrace an accreditation system for vocational subjects so that there is a process of quality assurance. He wants us to present our ideas to more government ministers and maybe even the president. Knowing Joseph, this could happen.
It was also very quiet at the ScrIpture Union guest house today (except for the workman back to continue the trench at 7.30am this morning). Rather different from yesterday when they hosted a genocide memorial service and the place was buzzing with visitors. 22 years on from the horror and posters are everywhere on the street billboards reminding people of the need to remember and work together for peace. There is ample evidence though of other more recent conflicts. We become aware of refugees from the Congo who are living temporarily at the guest house waiting to be resettled in America.
Kigali is fast becoming a westernised metropolis. Again today I am surprised by the increase in the amount of traffic and congestion in just five years. It's a country that has regenerated itself rapidly, embracing all new technologies.
The day ends having tea and cake at a cafe. The milk is served in the teapot. This is still Africa!
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.