PORRIDGE IN ACTION
I am happy to announce to all of the people who helped support the Porridge Walk of 2011 that all of the 200 plus students of the Muhumurize Catch-Up School in Rwanda have been receiving a full cup of porridge in the middle of their school day. This will continue for the full duration of their school year of 2012. Countless thank you's from the kids and me. Please enjoy the stories and pictures, and remember everyone of you is responsible for the cups you see in the pictures.
When I got to Rwanda, there were some things we had to do before we could begin the project. First, we had to get our estimated figures down on paper. The primary cost and ingredient for the porridge is maize flour, and annoyingly so, the price tends to change month-to-month. We took into account the best seasons for maize and the worst seasons. Thanks to the generous donations from everyone we had enough money to cover even our worst case scenarios.
Then we took a stroll next door to our friends at Rwandan Orphans Project, ROP, which does very similar work and has many kids of their own to look after. We combined our orders of flour so that we could maximize our wholesale price reductions. It also allowed us to cut logistical prices in half, such as transportation. I want to thank them again for their cooperation. It's good to have friends.
Jean Dodier and Theo of ROP and Muhumurize respectively
These students were studying after school had finished when our trucks showed up with our first order of flour and sugar
The first week had a learning curve. We began to cook on February 7th, 2012. We learned by trial and error the best ways to serve the porridge, how much to cook, and when to serve it. We also had to find the best way to clean up after and account for all of the cups etc. One thing we didn't want, was to make the porridge a big distraction in the school day and take the kids from their studies. The first week brought many new students as the news spread fast about the porridge.
We got into our groove pretty fast though. In fact, without going over our predicted estimates, we were able to make enough porridge for the whole school to have one cup and have some extra for any visitors, to feed the cooks' families who live near by, and to give the Level 3 students a second cup during the second part of the day when the rest of school is finished.
Our two cooks Jean Marie and Augustin
Level 3, is Primary grades 5 and 6 combined into one year. They have a massive syllabus for the year, and they have a very important exam to take at the end of the school year that will decide if and where they are to go to secondary school. For this reason, they are expected to study until 3:00-4:00 most days. This typically has always been a problem for our Level 3 students in the past, especially for the ones living directly on the street, and the ones that live well below the poverty line.
Again, because of the overwhelming generosity of our donors, we were able to spare some money to purchase a small amount of beans and flour to be able to cook a small lunch for the Level 3 kids after the initial school day is done. This was a personal dream-come-true for me.
Level 3 students working hard after school
So when you think about the positives that came of all this, the obvious one is the addition of the lunches to the Level 3 students. It was the teachers who gave us the best pat-on-the-back. The four teachers came together to let us know what they thought of the porridge. They said thank you to everyone who made it possible. They said that they saw a good change in every student because now they are able to focus all day and study better. Their learning experience is much more effective as is the teachers' teaching experience. It is allowing the truly serious students to continue to be serious about their studies because hunger during the school day is not getting in the way of their focus.
Let us not forget the good feeling the school carries, knowing so many people came together to help them when they don't even know them personally. Also good, is the shining light that is put upon the school in the eyes of others outside of the school. I will leave you with more photos of your wonderful deeds. The walk was more than worth it and I can't thank everyone enough for their support.
Before I leave you with lots of great pictures, I would like to give credit to many of these photos to Hanna Stevens who came as an intern for Rwanda Partners. She was extremely easy going but driven to get the best pictures possible. Please visit her website:
I also want to point out that we put much effort to use permanent markers and write the names of all the 100 plus people who donated to the cause on the cups. Unfortunately, the names didn't last long after the washings of a few days. With that being said. the looks on the faces of the kids when we pulled out the list of donors was priceless. It gave them some real perspective on their seemingly simple cup of flour,sugar, and water. OK and Enjoy!
Level 2 heading to get their porridge
The headmaster Theo, unlike any headmaster you've ever seen
Rafiki and others enjoying a cup
Everyone's favorite Bonne
One last thing. For those of you looking for other ways to help out, please remember that there are 22 boys and 4 girls that have nowhere else to go but the street after school. We rent 5 small rooms that house these kids. Rent and school is not an issue but the hunger which brings them back to the street is always an issue. We do our best to keep them fed but we always need help. If you feel you want to help with this, please contact me at
or 603-494-2900. The pictures below are of some of the kids in the homes.
Hakizimana, Yusufu, Manuel
Jean Baptiste, and Atiens
the small boy in the middle is Bonne and was brought to us by a policeman who found him
Niyonkuru was abandoned by his mother when her new husband told him he wasn't his son and to go away. Fortunately, he didn't go to the street because we had room for him.
AGAIN, WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS MY AND THEIR GRATITUDE! THANK YOU ALL