Archive | January 2011

Fall 2010 – Update

2010 closes with the great news that we will be breaking ground on February 7th!! Though it’s taken longer than we anticipated due to the uncertain economic environment, we have used that time well in preparing for what will take place in the building once we open the doors.

We see the seeds of the vision we planted two and half years ago spreading its roots through our network of new and existing partners. The Rwinkwavu community continues to rally around the Rwinkwavu Community Library/Learning Center (RCLLC) and the promise it holds.

Last March, Katie Uher, RfR Program Director, and our Rwandan university student interns conducted a series of 19 focus groups in Rwinkwavu to help determine the programming and scheduling needs of the community. It was a great opportunity, through these students, to connect with the leaders of the villages (umudugudus) in the sector to encourage local buy-in, build trust and make it clear that the success of the project relieves heavily upon Rwandan participation.

We got so much valuable feedback from all the groups and they were amazed that we took the time to ask what they want/need. The Grandparents we interviewed, as is the case with the majority of older people, hadn’t gotten past Primary 2. They hope to learn enough English to be able to give directions to tourists on their way to Akagera Game Park and said “…most of us have eye problems, it would be helpful if we have reading glasses at the library to help us during literacy training.” Primary 6 girls were adamant that we educate their parents about birth control and the importance of girls going to school. To echo that, the older out-of-school girls are yearning for educational and job opportunities. As one girl said,” We are facing many problems caused by poverty and ignorance. So I would like to ask you to emphasize programs designed for the youth to help us improve our conditions of life.” The community women were unanimous in their request that the RCLLC “…should train us how to become an entrepreneur…how to earn income through small jobs.”

The RCLLC is the only facility in the area suitable for housing the programming we plan to make available. True to our belief that collaboration not duplication is more efficient and effective, we continue to lay the groundwork for building solid partnerships and programming.

Katie has researched African sources for books, learning materials and programming. In December, while taking a month-long Cambridge University certified ESL literacy training course in Cape Town, South Africa, she visited many of these sources: publishers, programming, audio books, educational toys and learning aids and more. Additional sources have been identified in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Purchasing in Africa presents literacy in an African context, supports the African publishing industry and cuts down on the cost of shipping.

In October Katie met with the top Clinton Foundation people in Rwanda. They are collaborating with Soyco in building an oil processing plant and cultivating soy fields near the Library/Learning Center, which will bring 1600 new jobs to the District. Soyco and Clinton Foundation plan to provide job skills and financial management training and are very interested in using the Library/Learning Center for this training and collaborating on programming.

While the Library/Learning Center is under construction Katie will implement a pilot literacy program in Rwinkwavu in March. We will be able to assess, fine-tune and tailor the programming to best suit the needs of community, so we are ready to roll out the programming when the RCLLC opens its doors.

To that end we recently met with LitWorld (www.litworld.org) head-quartered in New York, who has developed and executed excellent community-based literacy and literacy leader training programs in New York, Kenya, Liberia, Ghana and Iraq. They educate community members to become literacy leaders/trainers through easy-to-use programs and materials.

We have identified several areas to start off our work together: preschool planning and curriculum, Girls Club/mentoring and on March 9th we will be participating in LitWorlds second “World Read Aloud Day”. Katie will be organizing Rwinkwavu community-wide participation.

Allen Moore and I are heading over to Rwanda January 28th in preparation for our February 7th groundbreaking celebration. We have a lovely program organized and representatives from the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health will be attending as well as the Mayor and other local officials and the community.

We’ll be sure to post pictures of the groundbreaking on our website blog as well as updated photos as the building goes up.

Thanks to all who have supported our efforts! Stay tuned……..