Building the Library

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Rwinkwavu Community Library and Learning Center

Ready for Reading (RfR), has built and opened the 7800 sq ft RCLLC with the strong support of the federal and local government and the Rwinkwavu community in Kayonza District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Serving a population of 21,000 in a catchment area of 225,000, this project is helping to provide much needed educational improvements in the district.

Ten years ago, PIH Partners In Health (PIH), an international heath care organization co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, began the reconstruction of a full service hospital in Rwinkwavu, the first PIH District hospital in Rwanda, to provide medical and health care for the Kayonza catchment area. PIH has transformed this remote and depressed region by restoring health and hope through their community-based system of health care.

In short, due to the symbiotic nature of the relationship between health and education it became clear that the appropriate site for the Library/Learning center was adjacent to Rwinkwavu Hospital.  An important partnership was forged with PIH in furthering our shared goals for development in the District. With the endorsement of Dr. Paul Farmer,  PIH included us under their umbrella by serving as our fiscal agent, providing administrative assistance and advising closely on the project. We have recently received our own local NGO status in Rwanda, but continue to partner with PIH in collaborating on health education in the community.

As the Rwandan government works to rebuild the physical infrastructure and the human resource capacity of the education system, the RCLLC is helping to bridge the gap in the delivery of programming in language and computer literacy to all segments of the population. This interactive and dynamic central gathering place provides language and ICT literacy, story hours, serve as an information resource, a career planning and skills training center, a site for a preschool, venue for talks and information pertaining to community health and other social and cultural programs and more.

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With President Kagame’s vision to advance Rwanda as an information/transportation hub in the East Africa region, this project comes at a particularly opportune time with its capacity to provide instruction in English and IT.  Coupled with health care, the acquisition of these skills offers individuals, and the community as a whole, the ability to achieve sustainable socio-economic transformation.

Construction:

What’s most amazing about construction in rural Rwanda is that there’s no heavy machinery…all excavation, footings, foundation and slab work are done with hand tools and muscle. One of the things we were adamant about was that the work force all be local in order to support the local economy. There were approximately 150 workers employed, divided into day and night shifts AND 50% of these laborers were women! They dig, lift and transport just like their male counterparts. There was  also a carpentry and welding workshop on-site where the woodwork, metal components and furniture was made by local craftsmen.

Timeline:

  • fund-raising
  • August 2009 – completion of design development drawings and outline specifications and interior/exterior renderings
  • September 2009 – completion of construction document plans submit construction documents and specifications to Kayonza District to obtain required environmental and building permits
  • November 2009 trip to Rwanda to review construction details and update stake holders
  • Ground-breaking contingent upon raising 100% of the funds for construction
  • Pursuing sources for books and learning materials; working with African and International publishers
  • Identifying and developing language and computer literacy programming
  • Internship program utilizing Rwandan university students, sponsored by Generation Rwanda – www.generationrwanda.org to conduct community focus groups in Rwinkwavu ((Spring 2010) to provide input for literacy and IT training and other programs.   The Library/Learning Center
  • Management Committee is also working to gather demographic information to help identify the programming needs of all segments of the population
  • Making contacts with other organizations to partner/collaborate on additional programming in the arts, entrepreneurial skills training, agriculture and trade skills, conferences, preschool, youth counseling and other ideas proposed by the community
  • February 2011 – Break Ground
  • April 2012 – construction completed
  • Stocking and staffing RCLLC
  • July 13, 2012 – RCLLC Opening