Jérôme Kayiranga and a Community-driven Model of Sustainable Farming

Behind the success of our fruit and vegetable garden at the Community Learning Center and Library stands Jérôme, the village leader of the last three years, who is also trained as an agronomist. Jérôme has committed himself to bi-weekly community service with REAP where he supervises small teams of community members and demonstrates modern farming techniques. This past season, our half acre garden was producing in surplus! The abundant, crisp cabbages and fresh green peppers were able to be sold to local schools for mealtimes.

This means REAP and its dedicated volunteers are on track to meet our goal of self-financing the agriculture programming, and generating income with agriculture sales by 2020. Through a combination of vegetable sales, and community service, we have been able to make leaps forward toward financial self-sufficiency. In the near future, the garden has the capability to contribute its profits to the cost of running REAP’s Community Learning Center and Library.

REAP High School Scholarship Program: Giving Back to Community!

One of the requirements of REAP’s High School Scholarship Program is that recipients participate in community service projects at the Community Learning Center and Library (CLCL). Emmanuel Irafasha, a recent high school graduate and scholarship recipient, is doing his part through a six-month internship at the CLC where he is a teaching assistant in the classroom during the student-centered learning clubs. Emmanuel's favorite part of the internship is playing games with students and helping them to practice English.

Accolades, Visibility … and Books!

IMG_5019.jpg

REAP’s Community Learning Center and Library (CLCL) was recognized by the Rwanda Education Board (REB), of the Ministry of Education, as a valuable community library.

Even more exciting are the 400 books the Kigali Public Library donated to REAP’s literacy programs!

REAP also joined the Rwandan Community Libraries Platform, which brings together the nation’s 68 community libraries to expand opportunities for collaboration, knowledge building, resource sharing, networking, and advocacy that nurture a national reading culture.

REAP Recognized

IMG_5001.JPG

Upon completion and operationalization of the Community Learning Center and Library, Musha Sector (local government entity) recognized REAP’s efforts to promote literacy and community welfare in Musha.

The certificate was issued last month in a ceremony at the Sector where all government partners were invited. Around 200 people representing various organizations were present. 

REAP Celebrates with the INEZA Community Board

On the stunning shores of Muhazi Lake, under the beautiful sunset, REAP staff and the INEZA Community Board celebrated the board’s 2018 achievements.

Emmanuel Karemera, board president, highlighted the board's accomplishments at the Community Learning Center and Library. These achievements include:

  • Kinyarwanda literacy and numeracy classes every Saturday and Sunday

  • The Community English Program

  • A weekly community-led parent meeting

  • The thriving vegetable garden

Mr. Karemera gave gifts to everyone as he urged the team to keep the momentum going and work harder for even better results in 2019.

Jean Paulin Mutatsineza, REAP ‘s country director, underscored the importance of the board. He praised its unparalleled voluntary efforts for the betterment of the Musha community and assured its continued collaboration with REAP.

Scholarship recipients give back

Part of our community engagement philosophy is that children and their parents, who receive support from us or benefit from REAP program, are required to partake in monthly community service to give back to the community. This month, students in our scholarship program with their parents helped planting vegetables in the vegetable garden at the REAP Community Learning Center and Library. The vegetables and fruit from the garden will be used in our nutrition program to fight malnutrition and stunting in the Akabare Village as well provide daily lunch to 100 students that participate in our English Literacy Program.

Taking Ownership: Starting from Within

.

REAP, in partnership with the local government, established a 12-member community board to promote community ownership and sustainability. The board comprises community volunteers and teachers from the Duha School who design, implement, and sustain community projects at the Community Learning Center and Library as well as ensure the center’s security and maintenance

To model ownership and sustainability as leaders, board members started a community service program that engages each member in activities of choice (farming, cleaning, telling stories to children, etc.) every mont. Last month, the priority was to plant vegetables in REAP’s vegetable garden on the grounds of the center.

The Vegetable and Fruit Garden: Blossoming

With the aim to fight malnutrition and stunting (impaired growth and development in children), REAP started a nutrition program for children under five in Akabare village. The long-term initiative will benefit around 1,120 children during 2019. On Saturdays, around 50 families gather at the Community Learning Center and Library to work on vegetable gardens and learn how to cook meals using the vegetables to supplement the food they bring from home. We are very proud of parents who delightedly cultivate the land and panting crops for healthier children!

The Power of a Caring Teacher

Early in the afternoon, Yvonne, the youngest first grader, shows up at the REAP Community Learning Center and Library two hours before the start of the student-centered learning clubs. As the only child in the library with three teachers, she is nervous and starts crying when a teacher asks her why she came very early and what she wants to do while waiting for her classmates.

Eugene, one of our teachers, approaches her and teaches her an audio game that builds English language skills. They play the game as he soothes her. She plays the game happily, smiling all the while.

Our teachers are trained to establish a supportive and caring classroom environment. As you can see from Eugene’s interaction with Yvonne.

Scholarships that Expand Possibility

Thanks to the generosity of donors, these young people each received a scholarship to attend a boarding school (“school of excellence”) that has bolstered their educational and career options. They are so pleased to have the opportunity to study subjects that they love and that will propel their forward movement.

The Gift of Literacy

Thanks to donor sponsorships, several young people had the chance to participate in REAP’s literacy enrichment program at our new center. In addition to learning reading, writing, and the speaking of English, students receive a full meal. This provides an opportunity to increase instructional time of a half day of school to basically a full-day program with explicit literacy instructional methodology that the children would not receive at school.

A Partnership to Promote Reading

Thanks to the generous donation by NABU of 15 tablets with embedded reading content, REAP and Nabu staff will hold monthly reading events at the Community Learning Center and Library. All students are invited to read as many tablet-based books (with teacher guidance) as possible each month. At the end of each week, the student selects a book to talk about with their classmates, parents, and teachers in a story evening. The REAP team and community board selects 7-8 best presenters every week. The top 30 winners of this “competition” will read with selected Rwandan celebrities, local government officials, and REAP and Nabu staff at the end of the reading month ceremony.

Presentation at the International Conference on Genocide

Ed with J ean-Paul Samputu , a fellow presenter at the Genocide Conference and a well-known Rwandan singer.  Best, Ed

REAP’s Executive Director Ed Ballen recently presented at the 5th International Conference on Genocide in Sacramento, CA. The theme of this year's conference was Forms of Genocide Across the Globe: Challenges, Responses, and Accountability.

Ed's workshop, Restoring Hope One Child at a Time, traced the history of REAP, its strategic efforts, and interventions, in fostering educational growth and social cohesion. Ed's talk addressed building community and connection, aligning with and encouraging locally based initiatives, and strengthening inter-generational learning. Routledge Press will publish the proceedings of the conference.

A Graduation First

For the first time in the history of Duha Complex School, a graduation ceremony was held for 30 nursery school students. Duha School is the only public school in the Eastern Province to ever hold such an event.

Parents, students and teachers proudly marched the streets of the Akabare neighborhood before going back to school for celebration. The REAP Early Childhood Specialist initiated this project to help boost parental involvement and students excitement about school, two important issues in rural public education in Rwanda.

A Visit from Ready for Reading

Ready for Reading (RFR) is another local nonprofit that owns a community library that has been in operation since 2009 in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda. Last week, RFR staff visited REAP’s Community Learning Center and Library. They played with teachers and students and taught them many new games that build community and keep students engaged in and excited about learning.  They also actively participated in our student-centered learning clubs. The RFR team was impressed by how the center is busy after only three months of operation.

 

 

The Community Notice Board

IMG_4061.JPG

As the only community center in the village and placed at the crossroads, REAP’s Community Learning Center and Library attracts more curiosity from community and passerbys.  The notice board in front of the building creates more communication and interaction with the community. Through notices and posts on the board, the community gets to know more about REAP as an organization, as well as the center and its programming.

Organizational partnerships enhance literacy

On October 18th, two international NGOs, A Partner In Education (APIE) and NABU (formerly Library for All), trained REAP staff on how to use NABU’s technology and educational content.

Four REAP instructional staff were trained on how to use tablets to teach students reading and various activities that develop English language skills.

In addition to training 15 tablets (hardware) were donated with content: books in Kinyarwanda and English and other language development applications.

Many thanks to APIE and NABU!

IMG_3887.jpg
IMG_3895.jpg

A Story of Achievement: Mandela Bruno

Unknown.jpeg

Our very own Mandela Bruno has been hired by a South African mining company.

Born in Musha and raised in Hameau des Jeunes orphanage, Mandela experienced many hardships as do myriad children in rural Rwanda. 

Mandela received a scholarship from REAP and successfully completed high school with a diploma in hospitality. 

Upon graduation, Mandela was hired as a chef by Piran Rwanda, a South African mining company operating in Musha. With competitive skills and dependable ethical behaviors, Mandela was promoted to camp manager after a year of employment. As a camp manager, he is in charge of all hospitality services for the entire company. 

All the best to Mandela!

Community Learning Center and Library: Visible Impact

Thanks to Paulin Mutatsineza for this update on the CLCL.

Today, October 6, was the busiest day since the CLCL inauguration:

NUTRITION: In the morning, 64 Duha nursery students and their parents gathered at the CLCL to learn how to cook a balanced diet for proper nutrition.  An officer from the Musha Health Center and a community health worker demonstrated nutritional cooking'; parents then cooked a group meal.

STUDENT ENGLISH LEARNING: In our classrooms, two staff members led the student-centered English Learning Clubs in which around 120 P-4 students were involved in various English language activities like reading, speaking, role-playing, and game playing.

PARENTING GROUP MEETING: Our community mobilizer led a Parent Meeting of about 60 people. The weekly community meeting addresses various social issues that affect home lives, such as domestic abuse, alcoholism, and children’s rights).

FAMILY PLANNING AND CONTRACEPTION: The afternoon featured health-based community outreach by the head doctor and a nurse of the Musha Health Center and a nurse. The doctor joined the parenting group meeting to lead a workshop on family planning and prenatal care. Seven women received contraception on the spot!

NATIONAL EXAM PREPARATION: Parallel learning activities occurred in the tech room, where REAP staff coached 17 P-6 students, who completed the research-based English literacy program, to better prepare for the forthcoming national exams.

Said Paulin: "Today, I saw and felt ‘in context’ the meaning of a community learning center and library and how the CLCL and its programs connect REAP and the community."

National exam prep: getting ready for academic success

Getting ready for national exams at the REAP CLCL. Every day for two hours, 17 sixth graders from Duha School come to the center to revise past national papers with our literacy teachers. These students went through our English writing and reading program for three years. This increases their chances for passing the end-of-year national exam and enrolling in better boarding schools with greater opportunities for higher education and jobs.