Jennifer ‘s work summary in Rwanda Kigali , summer 2010
The Kuki Ndiho Foundation, founded by Marie Claudine Mukamabano, is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of underprivileged and orphaned children in Rwanda.
During my stay in Rwanda, I worked closely with Kuki Ndiho’s coordinator in Kigali, Pacifique Gashirabake, who helped me plan my schedule, meet with people who would help me in my work, and of course carry out the work.
One of the three main locations I worked at while I was in Kigali is the Gisimba Memorial Center, which is an orphanage housing more than 150 children. At the Gisimba Center, the other Kuki Ndiho volunteers and I had the privilege of being able to distribute the sneakers that had been sent to Rwanda only weeks earlier as a result of the shoe drive that Marie Claudine held in New Jersey.
The children were ecstatic to receive those gifts! Not only did these sneakers provide them with a nice new pair of shoes, but it also gave them the idea that there are people who care about their well-being and happiness as far away as in the US. Pacifique and I returned to the Gisimba Center to conduct interviews with the children, in which they were asked their name, age, interests, and dreams for the future. I created a photo album with all of their pictures, and the children enjoyed leafing through the album and admiring the photos of their friends. During my last week in Rwanda, I also helped a returning Kuki Ndiho volunteer Stephanie, distribute the T-shirts
she so generously bought and donated to the children at the orphanage.
Another place where I worked while in Rwanda was the Muhima Primary School.
I was pleased to learn that many of the people involved in the Kuki Ndiho Foundation actually attended this school in their youth.
In recent years, the national languages spoken in Rwanda have undergone some changes; although Kinyarwanda remains the national language, English has replaced French as the other national language. So at this point in time, schools all over Rwanda are beginning to implement a stronger infrastructure to encourage the learning of English. The Kuki Ndiho Foundation believes that students will be able to gain a higher proficiency in English if their teachers are provided with the resources to improve their own English skills.
At the Muhima Primary School, I gave hour-long lessons to the teachers on staff. The headmaster was very enthusiastic about encouraging the teachers to take advantage of these lessons. I found that although the teachers had a relatively strong background in speaking and verb conjugation, many of them lacked confidence and practice in speaking, listening, and dictation exercises. The lesson plans I made focused on strengthening their abilities in these areas by making them read aloud, present their ideas, and respond to questions about a selection I had read. Little by little, the started to become more comfortable expressing themselves in English, and I am eager to hear about future Kuki Ndiho volunteers’ experiences with this wonderful group of enthusiastic learners.
My favorite part of each lesson was to teach them a song in English—and they expressed to me that this was their favorite part of the lesson as well!
I also had the pleasure of working with the students at Muhima Primary School who are sponsored by the Kuki Ndiho Foundation. Before departing from New York, I bought thirty recorders, which are small instruments that are played like a vertical flute. Once I met these children in Rwanda,
I distributed the recorders with the help of Pacifique and we began teaching them some American children’s song melodies.
The children are fast learners, and
I hope that their experience with the recorder will open doors for them to have the opportunity to learn other instruments in the future.
On weekday evenings, I also rehearsed with the music group at the Sainte-Famille Church in the center of Kigali. It was a pleasure to work with these musicians, and I was happy to participate in a mutual learning experience with them. They taught me all of the songs that they play for events in the church and for performances outside the church, and I taught them some of the things they were interested to know about music theory and transcription.
I was very happy that I had the opportunity to perform with them and with the church choir for a ceremony to ordinate new priests. The exchange of musical ideas that I shared with the group was a special part of my experience in Rwanda.
The time that I spent in Rwanda working for the Kuki Ndiho Foundation made me truly appreciate Rwandan culture and the country’s people, who have shown such resilience in the face of the hardships resulting from the genocide of 1994.
Rwanda’s people continue to build strength in Rwandan identity, shedding divisions over ethnic tensions.
The main problem I faced in Rwanda was the lack of availability to high-speed Internet connection, and I am aware that the country is currently trying to build and finance an infrastructure more conducive to the implementation of technological advancements.
The people’s motivation to create a brighter future for themselves is admired around the world!
I thank KUKI NDIHO Foundation for being proactive in bringing poeple’s attention to the needs of children in Rwanda. Our help is vital to providing them with the tools they need to succeed in the future. Jennife