Archive | February 2011

Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center Ground Breaking Celebration

We were thrilled to share in the excitement of Rwinkwavu residents who gathered along with our Partners In Health family, the Ministry of Sports and Culture and other local officials and community leaders on February 7th to celebrate the ground breaking for the Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center.

It was a warm but thankfully breezy day.  We set up chairs and a PA system to the left of what will be the main entrance, under the welcome canopy of an Umuvumu tree, which in Rwanda, is considered a symbol of healing and peace.  What a wonderful spot it will be for a bench, providing a shady outdoor space to read on the library grounds.

Speaking at the event, Emmanuel Bugingo, Director of the National Library and Public Reading for the Ministry of Sports and Culture, encouraged Rwinkwavu residents “to come to this Center and make use of it.” He went on to say that the Center is in line with the government’s plans to educate people, to increase their knowledge and encourage them to read for pleasure

Dr. Peter Drobac, Director of Partners In Health in Rwanda, spoke about the connection between health and education as the foundations of prosperity, “Once people are healthy they ask, Now what? How am I going to have a brighter future?  The answer is, education.”

As we scooped up shovelfuls of red earth, cheers and applause went up from the crowd.  Curious children inched closer, looking on from the front edges and people walking by on the main road wandered up the path to see what all the fuss was about.

At the close of the ceremony, with a sweeping view of the Rwinkwavu valley as a backdrop, we were treated to the beautiful music and dancing of a local dance troupe and we joined in with our less rhythmic but just as joyous style.

The 7800 square foot Center will open its doors in approximately a year. The construction fence and shed and other site preparations are in the process of being set up.  We’ll have some photos soon and will continue to keep you posted as there is more to report.
Attached are links to the press release that appeared in the Partners In Health, March 2011 e-Newsletter and in The New Times, the most largely circulated daily newspaper in Rwanda.

Breaking ground on a new library and community learning center in Rwanda.

Meeting the Generation Rwanda Interns – February 6, 2011

One of the highlights of this trip was meeting the six Rwandan university students who did such an amazing job working with Katie to conduct our 19 Focus groups in Rwinkwavu last spring. They are sponsored by our partner organization Generation Rwanda, formerly Orphans of Rwanda, providing each student a university education and coordinating internship opportunities with professionals, businesses and organizations.

For 2 months last April/May the students traveled out to Rwinkwavu with Katie once a week to meet separately each time with 2 or 3 different groups of community members from different villages in the sector. In addition to gathering feedback on programming needs, they served as Ambassadors for the Library/Learning Center giving us the opportunity to introduce the project, build trust and encourage local buy-in.

L-R Betsy, Yassin, Diane, Katie, Console, Justine, Tharcisse, Simon

L-R Betsy, Yassin, Diane, Katie, Console, Justine, Tharcisse, Simon

We gathered at the Laico Hotel in Kigali for some Mutzig, the local beer on tap, and Fanta. It was wonderful to finally meet the students and thank them for a job well done in person, get to know their stories and hear their plans for the future. We have one lawyer in the group, Yassin Nsabimana, who graduated in December and is now working in a Kigali based law firm. However, with the government’s push to advance Rwanda as an information hub in the region many of the students are majoring in computer science/business. We are planning to offer internships to computer science students in their final year of study to help do training in this area at the Center when it opens.

I found that the girls were just as ambitious and confident as the guys, which really impressed me. Rwanda is a country where 51% of the Parliament is comprised of women. The Rwandan government recognizes that girls and women are a powerful force for change. Harnessing this valuable resource will be a key factor in helping to break the cycle of poverty. We are very committed to developing girls and women specific strategies and programming.

I look forward to our continued collaboration with Generation Rwanda. One thing for sure, with young people like these, the future of Rwanda is in good hands!