Back to school

24-04-2010

On Monday the children here returned to school after the break, and so did I. Like the primary 1 and 2 classes I did not arrive until after lunch. The school is in Kinamba, near the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and about 45 minutes from the house. It is situated in a very poor part of the city and many of the children would not get the chance of an education if it did not exist. It is jointly run by a Rwandan NGO and a UK charity and is part of a project which is also involved in training women and income generation. You can read more about it at http://www.kinambaproject.org.uk

There are around 200 children at the school, and the number seems to be increasing daily. Almost all the classes are now at full capacity and soon there will be no room for any more. In the morning there are 120 nursery children split into three age-related classes and in the afternoon, from one o’clock until 5.00pm, a primary 1 and a primary 2 class. Primary 3 are at school from 8.00am until 2.00pm.

I am primarily involved with the nursery children, helping a young Belgian volunteer, Karen, organise games. This week I have had great fun playing with the parachute, throwing a ball, building with duplo and doing jigsaws. As each class is so big, we divide the children into four smaller groups and rotate around the different activities, approx 15 minutes at each. As well as being a break from the classroom situation it is a chance to help them improve their English as we issue simple instructions. I have also spent some time with nursery 1 helping to teach them their numbers and letters. There is a large sweetie jar full of bottle tops which the children use to help improve their counting skills. The staff at the school are certainly resourceful. These classes are taught in English.

I have also given a little help with some of the other class’s English lessons, correcting grammar and pronunciation but the teaching standard is very good. Karen is also involved with the teaching of English to primary one.

Meg, the school’s founder is currently in the UK, so Karen has been dealing with any issues as they arise. On Tuesday shortly before lunch, one of the boys fell and split open his forehead. After cleaning the wound, accompanied by the guard, she had to take him to the local clinic, to have the wound stitched. It was quite a bad injury and the skin had to be eased back into place. Apparently this was done without any pain relief! And then the child returned to school for his afternoon’s lessons.

Talking of lunch, as well as the primary 3, who are at school for a full day, a substantial number of other children are also fed rice and beans at around noon. Many nursery children stay to eat and others arrive early in order to fill their stomachs before their afternoon classes. On Thursday the list of names on the feeding program was 69. Having tasted her meals, I can highly recommend the cook. She lives on the premises and prepares meals for whoever is staying at the school. Her vegetable meals are very good. Porridge is also provided for the children mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Until we leave for Scotland at the end of May, I will be at Kinamba three mornings a week and some afternoons, depending upon my other commitments. Hopefully I will be able to return later in the year.