Excitement in the community rises as the construction of our Community Library and Learning Center nears completion!

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What used to be farming land earlier this year has now become a center of excitement in the Musha Community as construction of REAP's Community Library and Learning Center continues.

Currently, we are working on the painting and landscaping, as well as rainwater harvesting. The community has been volunteering its labor through the government's community service program every last Saturday of the month.

Expected to be completed by the end of May, the Center will serve as a common space for the community to come together. Community members will be able to acquire skills and access the resources that they need to further their social and economic development. In this way, the center will become a location of strength, joy, and healing.

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REAP Attends the International Social Work Conference in Kigali

 JEAN PAULIN MUTATSINEZA, THE REAP COUNTRY DIRECTOR PRESENTS OUR VISION TO DR. MATHILDE MUKANTABANA, THE AMBASSADOR OF RWANDA TO THE US.

JEAN PAULIN MUTATSINEZA, THE REAP COUNTRY DIRECTOR PRESENTS OUR VISION TO DR. MATHILDE MUKANTABANA, THE AMBASSADOR OF RWANDA TO THE US.

REAP was selected to participate in the International Social Work Conference held in Kigali from March 19th to 22nd.  Organized by the Center for Research and Innovation in Social Work (CRISOWO), the four-day social work conference brought together over 500 people and organizations including US, European and African universities, non-governmental organizations, and individual social work practitioners from across the globe. 

Mathilde Mukantabana, the Rwandan ambassador to the United States, was the keynote speaker. She started the social work program at the National University of Rwanda in 1999.

REAP presented our school social work model in the context of rural public education.  As an ambassador to the community, our paraprofessional social worker visits families in the community to ensure their participation in their child's education. Our presentation stirred the interest of many attendees. We were able to privately meet with the Rwandan Ambassador to share our vision of community development, and explore the possibility of collaboration with other nonprofits in the future. 

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Students of Green Hills Academy and Duha School Join Hands to Serve the Musha Community

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Recently, 60 students and 5 teachers from Green Hills traveled to Musha, Rwamagana for a Community service day at the construction site of the REAP Community Library and Learning Center. Fifteen students from Duha and REAP in-country staff joined them and helped at the construction site. The activities included passing bricks to masons, forming a laterite base for the floors and site clearance. At the end of the activities, students had a talk with teachers and the REAP project manager about community service, project management and civil engineering.

When the Community Library and Learning Center is complete, regular community service programming will be put in place to better involve the community for increased impact.

Duha Student Garden Project Supports Student Feeding and Practical Learning

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Rwanda recently introduced the new Competency-Based Curriculum with
the aim to provide students with practical skills and competency in key
developmental sectors like agriculture, entrepreneurship and technology,
among others. In rural public schools with limited resources and training, it
is a challenge for teachers to shift from knowledge-based teaching to the
competency-based one.
In addition to this, REAP initiated a School Vegetable Garden Project last
summer. Throughout the week and on every Saturday, 20 students from the
Duha primary school work on the vegetable gardens under the guidance of a
teacher and a parent. The project is primarily intended to help students
acquire practical skills in the areas such as farming, botany and nutrition.
Furthermore, it helps to feed students who come from low-income families;
in many cases, these students eat only one meal a day.

With the Construction of the REAP Community Center, REAP Provides Job Opportunities to the Musha Community


The construction of our Community Library and Learning Center is underway. The foundation work is now complete, and we are starting brickwork this week. The Center will provide opportunities and serve as a knowledge hub and a platform
to help address various challenges in the community.
From the beginning of the construction, we offered 86 unskilled labor jobs and 24 skilled labor jobs to local villagers. A group of parent leaders has selected the most vulnerable people to be hired so that their essential needs, including health
insurance and food, can be met.

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Construction of REAP’S Community Learning Center is Underway


This past week we broke ground for the construction of our Community Library and Learning Center in Musha, Eastern Rwanda. We are digging foundational trenches and will start masonry this week. Our Community Library and Learning Center will provide a range of literacy programs as well as computer training for schools in Musha and the surrounding community. In addition, the center will also serve as a community hub where people gather and gain skills and knowledge necessary to
address the pressing challenges in the community such as food insufficiency, family planning, school dropout, and illiteracy.
The construction is expected to be completed by January 2018.

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Duha Early Childhood Development Center is a Model for Early Childhood Education in Rwamagana District

Started by the Rwandan Government in 2012, the Duha Early Childhood Development (ECD) center was selected to be one of the two model ECD center for the entire Rwamagana District.  As a parent-funded center, with no regular funding from the Government, the center has faced operational and educational challenges like lack of teachers’ professional development, and training,  crowded classrooms and poor nutrition.

From 2013, REAP initiated a milk and porridge feeding program to ensure proper nutrition, and hired an Early Childhood Education worker. Our REAP early childhood specialist worked in partnership with the school leadership and parent committee to help improve learning conditions and outcomes. Students were grouped into three levels according to their age groups.  The REAP child education worker then trained teachers in participatory/hands-on teaching methodologies, and  trained teachers to set up 5 learning centers (Creativity, Construction, Language and literacy, Numeracy and Role play).

Enrollment has tripled from 60 in 2012 to 185 now.  District and Local government officials have touted the Duha early childhood center as one of the best in the District. As a result, visitors frequently come to gain knowledge of best practices in early childhood education.

REAP Participates in Rwamagana District's Partners Exhibition

Every year, Rwamagana District invites partners in the Joint Action Development Forum to a weeklong exhibition for them to showcase their services and products to the public.

This year, 63 partners including NGOs, and faith-based organization participated. REAP was invited and highligted some of our achievements including student clubs, technology in learning, school leadership project and Saturday school. The librarybox drew the interest of many participants as a relativley simple technology that can provide rich educational  content from the internet to schools without Internet access.

"Keep up the good work and expand to serve more schools, I am sure they are waiting impatiently" said the District Mayor as he thanked the REAP's project Manager for his  presentation.

 Mr Mbonyumuvunyi Radjab (far right), the Mayor of Rwamagana District, Mrs Kamanzi Beata (far left), the Rwamagana JADF permanent secretary visit REAP's booth

Mr Mbonyumuvunyi Radjab (far right), the Mayor of Rwamagana District, Mrs Kamanzi Beata (far left), the Rwamagana JADF permanent secretary visit REAP's booth

Aaron Hakizimana, a Duha Student, Achieves a Perfect Score on National Exam

In Rwanda, students take their national exams twice in an effort to enroll in a government board school. These schools are called schools of excellence, and present greater opportunities for further education as well as an increased chance for productive employment.

Aaron Hakizimana regularly attended the REAP led and funded Saturday School at Duha that provides enriched instruction and preparation for the national exam. As a result, he achieved an aggregate of 8 for the ninth grade exam, the highest score one can obtain. This is a remarkable achievement for a student from a poor rural background who attends a public school.

Duha school's national exam pass rate has increased from 80.1% in 2015 to 87.6% in 2016 for grade 9 as a result of REAP's academic enrichment programs.

REAP Scholarship Program is Changing Lives

Fidele, a recent scholarship graduate, has now become an English teacher at Duha, the school where he studied from grade one to grade nine.   After his father’s death at age 11, his mother remarried, leaving Fidele alone and improvised in a thatched roof house. With REAP’s support, Fidele regained hope, courageously pursued his studies and achieved a high school diploma.

“When I lost my father, I thought my life was at the end. I was homeless, with no food and no hope to study. When I received a REAP scholarship, my life changed completely. I finished my high school diploma at a teacher training college. I now get a monthly salary as a teacher at Duha. I have built a house for my mother and myself and I plan to go to university in a few years” said Fidele during an interview with REAP Education coordinator.

 

Duha Debate Club Challenges Another School in Competition

Started by REAP in 2014, the Duha Debate Club now counts 67 student members who are coached by 2 English teachers. 

Club coaches and student representatives came up with an idea to organize a debate competition with GS Janjagiro, another 12-year Basic Education school around 5 miles away from Duha.  The first competition took place on October 12, 2016. The debate competition proved to be an engaging and fun way to advance English skills, organize an argument, integrate knowledge across several disciplines, and boost confidence and teamwork.  As a result of this competition, Duha School now is reaching out to other schools to expand debate competitions.

Musha, Rwamagana: Roof Ripped Off REAP's Library, and Causes Water Damage to 90% of Books

On November 3rd, a violent storm destroyed homes and school buildings in the Musha Village where the Duha School is located. According to the Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), over 150 homes as well as many school classrooms suffered severe damage.

 Located at a relatively higher altitude, the Duha School lost the roofs of  5 classrooms, library and  the cow shelter.  

REAP formed the library in 2012 and stocked it with more than 2,000 books over four years. In addition, REAP furnished the library with shelves, tables, rugs, and benches.  The  storm damage requires us to build a new library. Our Saturday reading program and weekly reading enrichment programs are temporarily suspended until we can raise funds to build the library.

 Library roof blown off, view of the sky from inside the library

Library roof blown off, view of the sky from inside the library

 Eugene, REAP employee cleans water-damaged books.

Eugene, REAP employee cleans water-damaged books.

Changing the Paradigm of Parent meetings at Duha

Through our Leveled Literacy Intervention, REAP has established a new way of engaging parents in their children’s learning. Children demonstrated their reading skills in front of their parents. Parents were amazed at the children’s capacity to read and write English that far exceeded their expectations. Parents shared their dreams of their children’s future where their children now could go on to achieve further education. 

REAP Embarks on Leveled Literacy Intervention Program in the Duha School

This past summer, REAP started a Leveled Literacy Intervention(LLI) program at the Duha school  designed to give early readers a foundation for their academic and social emotional success. The Fountas & Pinnell LLI program is a powerful intervention that provides daily, intensive, small-group instruction, which supplements classroom literacy teaching with engaging leveled books.  This program integrates the essential skills of decoding, comprehension and writing. In addition to literacy, our programing ensures that all participating students  receive lunch, as well practice English language speaking and listening through our multi media programming. All parents are visited by a REAP staff member on a monthly basis to affirm that each child is fully known and to enlist each parent in the simultaneous development of their literacy along with their child. 

One Pig Per Girl Project Means Better Lives for Girls at the Duha School

This past summer, REAP started a Leveled Literacy Intervention(LLI) program at the Duha school  designed to give early readers a foundation for their academic and social emotional success. The Fountas & Pinnell LLI program is a powerful intervention that provides daily, intensive, small-group instruction, which supplements classroom literacy teaching with engaging leveled books.  This program integrates the essential skills of decoding, comprehension and writing. In addition to literacy, our programing ensures that all participating students  receive lunch, as well practice English language speaking and listening through our multi media programming. All parents are visited by a REAP staff member on a monthly basis to affirm that each child is fully known and to enlist each parent in the simultaneous development of their literacy along with their child. 

Boosting Early Literacy at the Duha School

Last summer, Danielle Lower, a REAP volunteer, and a graduate of Rollins College, visited Duha School. Realizing that grade one is the largest grade at the school with 715 students with a third of students struggling with reading and writing in Kinyarwanda (mother tongue), she initiated a holiday school program to improve literacy in grade one.

The program aims at providing extra Kinyarwanda literacy lessons when the school is on vacation. Research shows that strong literacy in mother tongue is a base for literacy in learning English, the language of instruction in grade 4.

Grade 1 teachers recommend students for the program basing on their performance in Kinyarwanda. Students then take a proficiency test and are placed in 3 levels (very low, low and middle). Teachers provide remedial instruction for two weekswhile the school is on vacation.

Last year, 44 of 70 students in “low” moved to “middle” while 46 of 52 moved from “very low” to “low”. The success of the program has increased the number of participants to 106 during this holiday period.

REAP Celebrates U.S. Ambassador’s Visit to the Duha School

Last Saturday, a group of US embassy employees led by the United States ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks Ruggles, participated in the monthly Community Service at the Duha School. The purpose of the community service was to celebrate the accomplishments of the girls’ programming achieved at Duha through REAP’s efforts.  Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, the REAP Project Manager and a Mandela Washington  Fellow, helped the Duha school receive this grant from the State Department to further enhance our ongoing commitment to girls’ health and leadership The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) is the flagship program of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa.

As a result of the grant, Duha School is now provided with a fully functional rainwater harvesting system. Water is now piped to the girls’ room to improve hygiene, along with sanitary kits to over 300 girls at Duha. As the most highly recognized Girls’ Room in the Rwamagana District, Duha continues to be the leader in ensuring that the girls stay in school, and become engaged learners.

Addressing the community, the ambassador strongly underscored the importance of girls staying in school. “Whenever a girl stays in school, her family’s income goes up by 15-20%.....Girls staying in school is a benefit for the whole community and country. We are very proud as the US embassy to be partnering with the District, with the headmaster in the Duha school and with our YALI fellows… the ambassador stated. After her speech, the ambassador gave sanitary pads to parents and students.

 US EMBASSY EMPLOYEES CUT LAWN

US EMBASSY EMPLOYEES CUT LAWN

 THE AMBASSADOR CONGRATULATED MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS

THE AMBASSADOR CONGRATULATED MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS

 THE AMBASSADOR GIVES PADS TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS

THE AMBASSADOR GIVES PADS TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS

 Erica J. Barks Ruggles, the United States ambassador to Rwanda (Middle), MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS (BLUE SHIRTS), MUSHA SECTOR EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (WHITE SHIRT) AND DUHA SCHOOL HEADMASTER (GRAY SHIRT).

Erica J. Barks Ruggles, the United States ambassador to Rwanda (Middle), MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWS (BLUE SHIRTS), MUSHA SECTOR EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (WHITE SHIRT) AND DUHA SCHOOL HEADMASTER (GRAY SHIRT).

REAP Joins Musha Community to Commemorate 1994 Tutsi Genocide

Every year from April 7 to 13, Rwanda and the world commemorate Rwanda’s 1994 Tutsi Genocide that took more than 1,000,000 lives.

This year, REAP trained 25 Grade 5 students who sang Iain Stewart’s Window of hope, a song that inspires hope and peace as we rebuild our country from the aftermath of the 1994 tragedy. Please click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Around 300 people including community members and local government officials gathered at Akabare Community Center where they learned about Rwanda’s history and how to fight Genocide ideology. The day ended by the screening of the video of the Duha kids singing Window of Peace along with Iain Stewart. The community was very proud to see their kids singing in English and delivering a powerful healing message. The local government commended REAP’s contribution to the country’s vision to rebuild itself and sustain peace and reconciliation. 

 

 

 

REAP Expands Girls’ Programming and Partnerships, Thanks to Young African Leaders Initiative ( YALI) Grants

After REAP’s project manager, Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, participated in President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, the Rwandan cohort  of YALI scholars won two grants from USAID through the U.S. embassy in Kigali.

The first grant of $ 18,000 is dedicated to Menstrual Hygiene and Education targeting four schools in Rwanda, including the Duha School. The other grant of $6,000 focuses on Entrepreneurship training, mentoring, and Network and Community service for youths.

As a result of these grants, REAP will provide the Duha school with:

1. a fully functional rainwater harvesting system (water tank, gutters, taps, etc.) for the girls’ room to improve water and sanitation conditions for the girls.

2. Three hundred pad packets to girls using the girls’ room

3. Three hundred menstrual education flyers to girls using the girls’ room

4. Three hundred school bags to girls using the girls’ room

The US embassy in Kigali is planning to visit Duha next month and inaugurate the project upon completion.

In addition, At Groupe Scolaire Rubona, REAP iand YALI Rwanda and Agahozo Shalom youth village will:

1.     Conduct youth’s sanitation community projects at the school (build pit toilets, repair water pipes, etc.). This will be done by youths from Duha School, Agahozo Shalom and Rubona community.

2.     Provide educational sessions on girls’ issues (education, menstruation, dropout, etc.) and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections.

This project paves the way for a collaboration between REAP and Agahozo Shalom as well as expanding REAP’s scope of impact to other schools in the region.