Bonheri standing upon the first porridge order of the year
Hello everyone! It's Shaun here and I am back from my trip to Rwanda. I have wonderful news and updates for everyone. First, I would like to apologise for my absence but I hope this blog makes up for it. To set things straight first, the answer to your question is that, "Yes," the kids have been and will continue to receive their porridge at school for the rest of the school year. But before I begin about how that all went about, I would love to tell you about how the porridge fared from 2011's "A Walk for Porridge."
2011's "A Walk for Porridge" was not as big as 2012's event but it was the first one we had attempted and it was a success. Obviously, it is good to help to feed kids who need it, but we also had made some bold statements about how it will help with attendance and better grades and participation and such. Basically, the 2012 school year for Muhumurize was the test to see if the porridge would be able to do all of that. I am grateful for the generosity from all for the "The Run for Porridge," because it still wasn't possible at the time to return to Rwanda and give a proper report and the effects of the porridge. Regardless, everyone was willing to support.
So thank you for your patience. I have good news for you. The porridge has helped to quite a lot. For instance, the total number of kids at the school in 2012 was roughly 230 kids. However, now Muhumurize is teaching over 300 vulnerable children! I am not saying that the porridge is the only thing that has caused this jump, but it is definitely part of that. The school now operates like many schools do in Rwanda where they have broken the students into two groups. Group 1 will study in the mornings one day, and the next day, they will go to school in the afternoon. the groups alternate like this in order to keep the classroom numbers more normal. However the Level 3 kids continue to study all morning and afternoon to get ready for their big exams at the end of the year.
My personal favorite noticeable change for the school is the results from the Primary 6 Test Results for 2012. Allow me to explain the difference in education in Rwanda so you can understand the significance. Unlike my personal elementary schooling where I finished 5th grade and didn't have a care in the world, as I rolled in to middle school, it is VERY different for the kids in Rwanda. Your last grade is 6th grade or Primary 6. They will all take exams at the end of Primary 6 and their scores will directly influence the rest of their lives. Those who score exceptionally well, are considered Division 1, and are accepted into government boarding schools around the country. Those who do good, get Division 2, and are accepted into good secondary schools within Kigali. You can still pass with Division 3 and 4 too but it is much harder to get into a good school, and if a school is nearly full, you will have a hard time to get accepted over a kid with Division 2. And if you fail the test, then you failed Primary school and cannot go to secondary school at all. Obviously, and especially for the street children, the best option is to get Division 1 and go to a boarding school. In the past two school years, only 2 kids got Division 1 (One from each year.). However, the 2012 school year at Muhumurize brought us 6 Division 1 kids! 6 division 1 kids out of 30 is actually very impressive, especially for a Catch-up School. Again, the porridge cannot be considered the sole hero of this, but it definitely can be patted on the back for helping. The teachers taught better, and the kids learned better.
PORRIDGE EVENTS FOR 2013
So when I returned to Rwanda in early January of this year, honestly to set it up the porridge again wasn't too hard really. Last year held the difficulty of fine tweaking our ways of cooking and serving the porridge, so we felt a lot more confident this time. The biggest challenge was understanding the mass amounts of kids the school had now. I was happy to see all of them studying of course but all I can say is that I'm so grateful that we raised $10,000 because we are going to need every bit of it to keep the porridge cooking for the entire school year.
With number of kids increasing, and the price of maize flour increasing as well, I can't say thank you enough to everyone for helping us to raise so much money. Luckily, we have more than enough and everything is running smoothly. It didn't take too much to get it rolling. All we had to do was crunch the new numbers and collaborate again with Rwandan Orphans Project (ROP) again to get a better wholesale price. That's it basically. The beginning of February brought us our first load of supplies to all of the kids' delight.
You could see that the younger, new kids, that were not there from the year before did not realize that they would all be getting porridge so many would run and fight in line at first. It was good to be able to teach them manners and other
like that. They learned quickly that the porridge was for real and that there was no need to panic either as they knew they would be getting their cup. Another thing I noticed this year that I absolutely love is that many of the kids will leave to use the toilet or for any other reason and when they do, they have no problem to leave their cup on their desk unattended. Maybe that seems simple to some, but its actually a very big deal because if there is any extra porridge left over in the big bucket when the serving is done, if it is not handled well, it can create a big problem for kids looking for extra porridge. So for the kids to have learned the respect to not touch another kid's cup even if they walk out for a minute is a really good thing.
The teachers are more appreciative of the porridge than anyone else possibly. With the increase of kids and the schedule for the day, the classes now end at 4:00 PM and not 1:00 PM like before. they receive porridge and a small lunch to keep them going strong for the day.
UBAKA U RWANDA
Don't forget that by raising $10,000 like we did, we also received $10,000 as a matching donation. This donation was sent to Ubaka U Rwanda which is a home for street children. It is where I live when I am in Rwanda and within the home are the kids that I consider family. As per our donor's requests, they had to send $5,000 at two different times. As of now we have received half. That half has gone directly into our land buying account. Currently Ubaka U Rwanda is working hard to find a plot of land we can buy to build our future. Our plan is to build our very own purpose built center for street children. As of now, we pay rent on our home, we pay for water and food etc. We want to have our very own place that will allow us take in more kids and be more self sustainable. We are getting closer and closer. We want to thank our donor again, and everyone who donated for the porridge that helped make it possible.
We have a boy who lives with us that is deaf. His name is Emmanuel and he is quite the painter along with his best friend named Tabero who is supported as well by the center but is not a resident. They took the time to make two paintings to thank some of the folks who helped make the run possible. One painting was made for the Arroyo Grande Hotshots who were the bulk of the runners for the event that made all of this possible, while there were other runners as well, not from the Arroyo Grande Hotshots, this was the best way to give a group thank you and I hope when they see the painting, they consider themselves as part of that. The other painting was the logo for Ubaka U Rwanda. This will be given to our donor for all of the support she has shown to them. Thank you so much
Tabero and Eammanuel with their paintings they made for the Arroyo Grande Hotshots and Ubska U Rwanda's donor to say thank you for their efforts.
STILL SAYING THANK YOU
It's possible you are tired of hearing it now, but I want to give you my biggest gratitude one last time (until next time of course). We had an amazing time doing this fundraiser as it brought us all closer together here. At the same time, it continued to do so many good things for kids who truly need the help not-so-far away. Everyone should feel part of that.
Later this year, we will conjure up another idea that will sacrifice our bodies and time to try and continue the good things we've begun. I hope you will choose to join us on the ride again so we can make big things happen. Truly humbled by it all. Keep them in your thoughts.
Yves (13) cooking porridge for the boys at Ubaka U Rwanda
FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOOKING TO DO MORE
The best way to make a truly lasting impact on these kids is to sponsor one of them. I am the one who handles the sponsorships and I like to make it a very personal thing for the sponsors. The biggest reason I travel every year to Rwanda and back is try and be that bridge between Rwanda for the sponsors. The door swings both ways as the child is supported and learns about how someone who doesn't even know him is helping him. At the same, the sponsor learns about the kid, their past, and their bright future. I've seen the positive effects from both sides. It is something I'm proud to be a part of and help support.
to get more information about it. Also please feel free to contact me about any questions you may have about anything at all directly related to Rwanda and these causes.
Until then, see you soon for the next adventure! Enjoy the photos.
The first order arriving
Niyonkuru and I happy with our catch
One of the cooks dishing out the porridge
Benda and Gile
Teacher Emmanuel helping out as well
Superman needs porridge too
Trying to fill them up as much as possible, but then walking awkwardly back to class trying not to spill
They make it last for a bit, like a nice cup o' joe
Porridge makes you strong
Relocating Niyonkuru and Rafiki to a center for street children. We miss them but they are doing even better now.
Bonheri was also relocated to Rwandan Orphans Project, another center for street children. He is near by though and we visit him much.