School visits

School visits

Nyamirambo is known as one of the poorer areas of Kigali and where Mission Rwanda first started work. The main street is a bustling thoroughfare of clothes shops and beauty parlours. It is marked by a mosque at one end, and as the road heads south out of the city, a football stadium at the other. Most of the commercial activity takes place along the main street but the Nyamirambo area itself stretches several miles around the hillside.

Since 2010 we have been sending a group of children to school. Two have completed their education and have now been trained in welding and motor mechanics. Four are in secondary school with one at an elite boarding school for the brightest children.

Today we did the tour of Nyamirambo to visit the six children still in primary school. Cyivugiza school is our first stop and within easy walking distance of the main street. Here we meet three of the boys, Kuzungo, Seth and Tharcien. In the good old days P6 pupils stood no more the four feet six from the ground. Nowadays they seem to be anywhere from there up. We hear good things from the teacher who is giving these boys extra tuition for their national exams in November.

In another classroom we meet Alice. A year ago she was walking five miles each way to school each day and was looking thoroughly fed up with life. We arranged a transfer for her at the beginning of this school year to Cyivugiza and she is looking a lot happier and more confident.

Next stop is Portugal school and to get there, a choice between motorbike taxis or walking several miles up the hill in what is turning into fierce heat. We go for the taxis.

At Portugal school, we find Patrick and Gakera. Patrick's teacher is a small woman with a weary smile that can only come from spending all day every day in a classroom. She explains that Patrick could try harder as she takes a ruler from her drawer to read off his marks from her class book.

Next year, all but two of the children will be in secondary school and their marks in the upcoming national exams will determine what grade of school they go to. The brighter ones will find themselves at boarding schools. The others will have to find one of the scarce places at a local secondary. That will be one of the main jobs on our list when we visit next January.