By Marie Goretti Mukakalisa Marsillac, President, Centre Ubuntu, June 2013
"In the post-genocide context, it is vital to go beyond differences..."
Association Ubuntu's priority for the children of Bwira is ensuring they can access education and succeed in reaching their full years of schooling.
Our new project’s aim is to initiate the construction of the building, “Marie”, for the social and cultural Ubuntu Centre in Bwira, Ngororero, in West Rwanda.
“Marie” will welcome young children from Bwira for educational activities: a selection of board games will be sent to Bwira by Association Ubuntu (France). They will encourage educational activities, creativity and imagination for all five senses, as well as being aimed at working as a group rather than in a competitive way.
The idea is that each child attending the centre is encouraged to explore his/her own talents and creativity whilst being respectful of other participants.
The Centre “Marie” will be open from 8am to 8pm so that children going to school in the morning or in the afternoon can use it. Older children attending college all day will be able to use the Centre in the early hours of the evening. We will take into consideration challenges relating to the language differences.
In addition to the mother tongue Kinyarwanda, older children will be taught French at school, whereas younger kids now have English lessons. This makes learning and communication an even bigger challenge.
Other activities will be added as we explore the needs and creativity of Abihuje’s members. We will develop new ideas through the participation and energy of the members from Association Ubuntu.
Primary school is free, but families need to pay for school materials and uniforms. Seven hundred children, aged 7 to 17, attend the scholar group of Gitarama in Bwira (nursery and primary). Situated 50m away from the Centre Ubuntu, Gitarama has only nine teachers.
Because of this, children can only go to school half-days, either in the morning or afternoon.
The college of Bwira is situated 900m from the Centre Ubuntu and has 350 pupils.
The purpose of this college is to give a second chance to children who have failed at the end of their primary cycle. They have to pass an exam allowing them to extend their education by another two years. At the end, they have to take another exam to assess if they have a chance to go into further education.
This programme is called NINE as it represents years seven to nine in the education curriculum.
At the end of NINE, children have reached the equivalent of the end of college. Those who are successful in the exam can re-integrate intohigher education. Those who fail will continue at the level TWELVE, which is less demanding.
NINE has been in place for five years, which means the older children are in their fifth year. In one year’s time, they will have finished their higher education, called TWELVE.
For the second part of their education, there are two sections in Bwira: humanities (literature) and maths/physics.
Our objective for 2013 is to build a second building named “Marie." This building will be erected on a slope and we need to have solid foundations for it. The total costs are estimated to 7,400€.
The first tasks include preparatory work to ensure the construction site is flattened and adequate for the structure of the building and its surroundings. We will build the foundations of the building after carrying out excavation inspections. Then we will put in place a system for appropriate water drainage and easy access to the building.
This building will be built by inhabitants of Bwira using local materials, as we did for the first one. Anyone's contribution will therefore directly benefit the people of Bwira.
The cost for this work is 2,835€.
This year, only 39 pupils out of 100 were able to take the exams for NINE. Amongst them, only 27 succeeded.
For the others, this is the end of their education. From 2003 to 2010, no child from Bwira was able to reach secondary school. Failing at school is an impediment to developing positively in life. This makes it even more difficult to grow as dignified adults and be driving forces in the re-building of Rwanda.
Instead, they risk being marginalised, away from decision makers, without any decent infrastructure.
The project for a social and cultural centre started with the building of “François”, shown in the photo.
The first building came to fruition in 2012: “François”, 63 m²
This building was a ruin. By transforming it as the first recreation place for the people of Bwira, Association Ubuntu gives it a new life.
Until more buildings are erected as part of this project, “François” will be the centre of activities. It will act as a place to facilitate social connections through collective projects, such as:
Joseph, orphan since he was one, is smiling again thanks to his sponsor Ginette.
Gilles has had both legs paralysed for two years. With the help of crutches, he can now be mobile. He didn’t get a chance to go to school, but he is intelligent and has the will to go on.
His sponsor has helped him start up a small business. Here, Gilles is in his shop in Bwira.
Our recent achievements and developments include the following:
These children from Bwira are queuing in front of the water source, each one waiting to fill their water can.
Water reservoirs with an efficient distribution system near the village can make a significant difference to the lives of such children.
Association Ubuntu and its supporters carry out a diversity of activities in France.
Association Ubuntu, based in Niort, France, works in collaboration with its partner organisation in Bwira, a self-help group of women called Abihuje.
In the post-genocide context, it is vital to go beyond differences; survivors of the genocide have had a tendency to retreat into their own sorrows and are psychologically and emotionally fragile.
Today’s young parents were 9 or 10 years old when the horrors took place and didn’t get a chance to receive the usual education and knowledge from their elders. Many women live on their own, with the older ones looking after orphans.
In Rwanda and France, women stand up to re-create solidarity.
In Rwanda, members of the cooperative Abihuje are women that stand up every day to support each other, provide mutual advice and encouragement, share their knowledge and rebuild trust in themselves and each other.
These women have no communal place to meet and work, especially when it rains. They live in Bwira, West of Rwanda (Ngororero District), in a hilly region between 1,500 and 1,800 metres, with no infrastructure, flowing water, or electricity.
“My name is Marie, I live in Niort, France. I was born in Rwanda and the fact that I had the chance to come and live in Europe has been a revelation. I used to send money to Rwanda and although I still do that, I quickly realised that was not the best way to help.
I want to help people help themselves.
Through discussions with a European friend, who I was lucky to work with in Rwanda in 2001-2003, came the idea to set up a charity, which was named Centre Ubuntu. Since August 2009, we have been working in collaboration with two people in Rwanda.”
Association Ubuntu is a charity based in Niort, France. We work with a group of women from the cooperative ABIHUJE, by supporting their activities and ensuring the basic needs of their families are guaranteed: education, health, and food.
The people of Bwira deserve your support and you can trust that any help you give through the Association Ubuntu benefits them directly:
To all donors: rest assured that if one day you get a chance to visit Bwira as part of our solidarity tourism programme, you will receive a very warm welcome.
We will also be happy to provide you with a paper testifying your gift over of over €20 for no-tax claim purposes.
The cost of constructing the Centre Marie is 2,835€ and we are actively seeking a 1,000€ contribution through so that we can get started.
This building will be built by inhabitants of Bwira using local materials, as we did for the first one. Your contribution will therefore directly benefit the people of Bwira. On behalf of the Bwira community, we THANK you in advance for your help in making this project happen. Please remember to let your friends and networks know about this.