Building Schools, Building Hope

Artwork: 

In most other places across the globe, the construction of a new school would not be regarded as a particularly remarkable or noteworthy event.  But in a land still suffering from the damages of a recent and brutal genocide, a new school has the potential to be the remedy needed to elevate communities out of poverty. If successful, the new school being built by Mission Schools International in Rwanda could be the first step in putting the entire Rwandan nation’s economy back on track.

In a devastating genocide during 1994 in this landlocked, sub-Saharan African country, ethnic tensions between the dominant minority Tutsis and the majority Hutus erupted in systematic massacres intended to annihilate the Tutsi population. Mass-murders targeting not only Tutsis but also moderate Hutus amounted to a staggering death toll of over 800,000 victims in less than 100 days, according to the information provided on the Mission Schools International website.

In addition to the psychological pain inflicted on everyone connected to the tragedy, the years following the genocide brought social, economic, and political instability to the country. Estimates conclude as high as 20% of the Rwandan population lost their lives, and millions more survived yet lost their homes. Much of the population has become entrenched in the crippling cycle of poverty. Despite the obstacles, Rwanda has been addressing these issues and is searching for ways to infuse strength, life and vitality back into the nation. 

Mission Schools International plans to use their new school as one of the major mechanisms driving this positive change. The innovative model comprises of boarding for 720 boys and girls grades 7-12, complete with three or more nutritious meals a day for each student and access to professional medical facilities. The school has partnered with medical experts at both at Partners in Health and Massachusetts General Hospital to provide them with appropriate medical exams, immunizations, and treatments. With the effects of insufficient medical attention and malnutrition mitigated, the students will be able to concentrate on their studies in the curriculum developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts focusing on science, technology, business, and entrepreneurship—the areas highlighted by the Rwandan government as most critical for the future development of the country.

Collaborating with the Rwandan Government’s Ministry of Education, Mission Schools International selected a community in Rwinkwavu, the poorest province in Rwanda, as the area that could most benefit from the construction of the first school. Starting in Rwinkwavu with a campus scheduled to open in January 2011, Mission Schools International then plans on expanding within Rwanda at an impressive rate of two new school openings every other year, and then has aspirations of expanding throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mission Schools International has high hopes, dreams, and expectations for its students. If successful, its network of alumni will be in a position to create jobs for others and contribute towards a sustainable economy and a bright Rwandan future.

 

For more information on Mission Schools International, visit their website at http://www.missionschoolsinternational.org/

 

Above picture features Mission Schools International Founder Brendan Kennealey with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. (With permission granted from Brendan Kennealey and Nicole Duffy.)