As I’ve mentioned many times before – the best part of this fellowship is meeting the borrowers and Beatrice is one heck of a borrower! She won the ‘greatest impact’ award globally for the whole Hope International Group, which Urwego is a part of. So we paid her a visit to tell her the great news and to see all the amazing work she has been doing.
Rwandans know that education is key to their country’s success but reaching villages in the country side still remains a struggle. Beatrice recognised this and decided to do something about it – she founded a school!
She started small – building one house for a nursery school… The locals did not have enough money to pay tuition fees therefore Beatrice had the parents help out in the garden, in the kitchen, with repairs, with uniforms – anything to make sure the kids can come back the next day.
Over the years her school has grown and she has received much praise and attention – even the Australian prime minister went to visit her!
It was fascinating to see the learning materials around the school – hand made posters of numbers, letters, sentences to recite, animals to learn. My favourite was ‘sources of light’ – of course this concept seems completely alien to us, folks with abundant electricity – but it is important to know as a kid in Rwandan countryside with 12 hours of pitch black darkness every night!
The kids of course were brilliant – extremely excited to meet us and show off their skills, so they sang a few songs for us, one of them being: “Clean my car again… oh oh again… oh oh again… oh oh again…” I must say, keeping a straight face throughout that was extremely hard – just check out their dance moves – these kids are the best!
Beatrice didn’t stop with the kids though… She saw that many of the parents had difficulty earning money and many of the female siblings of her students had dropped out of school and had little to look forward to in the future. So she decided to take action again – she began sowing and knitting classes for adults.
Seeing all the sketches and cut outs of clothes took me back to my mum’s work bench as a kid, with the hum of the Singer sowing machines in the background… I walked around and stopped at each lady so they could show me what they’re working on – mastering a new stitch technique, putting more yarn on the machine, unknotting a lump in the sweater… These women knew their stuff!
So not only does Beatrice provide a strong educational foundation for the kids in the community; she is also lifting young adults out of poverty through vocational training. We finished our visit with a long prayer, for Batrice, for the school, for strength to carry on, for a brighter future – she is a truly remarkable woman !