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Nourishing minds in Rwanda

The project

Rwanda has made significant progress since the 1994 genocide, but malnutrition and lack of education still remain key challenges. More than two million people suffer from food insecurity and 40 per cent of Rwandan children are chronically malnourished. Furthermore, while primary school enrolment rates are high, completion and retention rates are very low.

In conflict-affected countries like Rwanda, school provides a safe venue to discuss the country’s history, and inspire reconciliation, healing and tolerance. But it’s hard to learn about history and reconciliation when plagued with chronic hunger. Children commonly go to school hungry, making it difficult for them to concentrate on their lessons or participate in activities. During the rainy season, school attendance drops even lower due to more severe food shortages in homes. Children spend their days looking for food, or doing piecework so they can earn money to buy food. By the end of the school year, their absences generally result in poor performances and failing grades.

This is where you come in. Your support has directly benefitted more than 11,000 school children at 9 primary schools in Gatsibo, Rwanda. The goal was this: more children going to school and staying in school because their learning environment was improved and their stomachs were full.

What you’ve done

Your support is bringing a daily meal to thousands of Rwandan children. The incentive of a good meal is strong motivation for children to attend school who might otherwise not have the time (they’re too busy working to make money to buy food) or the inclination (too tired from lack of food energy). With food in their stomachs, the children are able to focus on what children their age should be focusing on: learning about themselves, their people, their place in the world, what they can offer to their communities, their country, their world.

The offering of a meal is a simple and effective way to attract children to school and keep them there. At school, there exists a unique opportunity to teach children other crucial life skills required to grow and thrive: skills such as the importance of clean water and sanitary practices, gender equality, and health, as well as how to be compassionate, confident, and assertive adults.

With your support, food storage areas and school kitchens are being upgraded and school feeding committees implemented to monitor and maintain the project.

This year in Rwanda, you’ve helped:

  • More than 11,500 school children receive one nourishing meal each day at school
  • Increase school enrolment due to the improvement of physical infrastructures, hygiene and sanitation, along with the promise of a meal
  • Equip primary schools with school gardens filled with vegetables, fruit and maize.
Who you’ve helped

The children of one primary school beneficiary used to joke that the school was nothing more than a name. That’s because it consisted of only a very few small buildings, and the “classrooms” were simply the shade offered by nearby trees. But with your help, that has all changed. Now the school is no longer just a name, it’s a collection of 12 classrooms, two latrines, a kitchen, a feeding shelter and a water pump for accessing clean water. The school also has a cow and a constant supply of food.

“I’m really happy for what Plan is doing for our school. There were some children who could not come to school because they were hungry and had no food at home,” says 14-year-old student Kirabo. “Such children are now punctual at school because they know that they will have lunch at school. We no longer doze and yawn in class because of hunger.”

Another student of the school, 12-year-old Joy, says everything about the school is better.

“Before we used to study under the trees and we could not concentrate because of too much sun and wind and rain,” she says. With the construction of 12 classrooms our performance has improved.”

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