Changing Lives in Rwanda – CITW January 2020 Update

Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Rwanda has already made great strides into the new decade. Building on the two highly successful Eco-Clubs – hosting a total of 60 learners at Bisate Primary School, and a scholarship programme for eight students from Bisate Secondary School – 2020 brings exciting new school partnerships, new Eco-Clubs, a YES Club and many more donations and scholarships!

CITW expands from Bisate Primary School to Akayange and Gisunzu primary schools

CITW started in Rwanda in March 2018 with Eco-Clubs at Bisate Primary School. Since then, the partnership with Bisate Primary School has been very strong.

In the last few months, CITW has established partnerships with two additional primary schools.

Akayange Primary School in the Nyagartare District is just outside Akagera National Park’s North Gate. From Magashi this is the first school guests reach when travelling outside the National Park.

We have also established a partnership with Gisunzu Primary School, situated close to Gishwati-Mukuru National Park in the Rutsiro District.

Teachers from all three schools attended a CITW Eco-Mentor training workshop in October last year. The training focused on the successful running of the Eco-Clubs at their schools, including provision of the Eco-Club curriculum, lesson materials and lesson plans. After the workshop, the schools took their year-end break, re-opening for the new school year in the second week of January 2020.

Since the second week of January, all the Rwandan CITW Eco-Clubs have been active, and we are very proud of this achievement, as well as the dedication and motivation of the teachers, school heads and, of course, the learners!

At Bisate Primary School two CITW Eco-Clubs get together every Friday afternoon. The 60 children are divided into two groups of 30 each and have named themselves the Mountain Gorillas and the Lions.

Gisunzu Primary School is active with 64 children in two CITW Eco-Clubs which get together every Friday afternoon. The names are very applicable to the Gishwati area, viz. the Blue Monkeys and the Chimpanzees.

Lastly, there are two CITW Eco-Clubs at Akayange Primary School at Akagera National Park. They also get together every Friday afternoon in their clubs, the Giraffes and the Rhinos, with 30 children in each making up the 60 participants.

The combined six CITW Eco-Clubs ensure that 184 children receive extracurricular environmental education and have the opportunity to learn, discuss, engage, have fun and expand their knowledge on ecological issues.

Eco-Club activity at Akayange Primary School

Donation of internet and school supplies

With the help of repeat Wilderness Safaris Bisate guests Robert and Alison Green we have ensured that the computer learning centre at Bisate Primary School has internet connectivity until 2024! The yearly subscription fee has been settled, guaranteeing successful computer lessons for the next five years.


Guests visiting Bisate and Magashi can make their journeys even more meaningful by using space in their luggage to bring school and learning supplies needed for the CITW programme, thanks to Pack for a Purpose. At the start of the school year donated supplies, including school bags, notebooks, rulers, calculators, world maps and pencils were distributed to the teachers, who made sure the goods were divided fairly between the children in need.

CITW awards full scholarships to 80 Bisate Secondary School learners

In January 2020 CITW Rwanda awarded scholarships to 80 learners (38 boys and 42 girls), for the full duration of their secondary school education. The scholarships include school fees, books and uniform costs. The total value of six-year scholarships for the 80 learners is valued at US $120 000.

The recipients were chosen on the basis of their academic performance and level of participation in the programme’s Eco-Clubs during 2019 and 2018. They were carefully selected by the CITW Rwanda team, Eco-Club Mentors and the Bisate Primary School Headmistress. The prerequisites for retaining the scholarship each year include showing dedication, motivation, good behaviour and maintaining good marks. All 80 students are enrolled at Bisate Secondary School. The school and CITW will share the school results at the end of each term. CITW Rwanda Programme Coordinator Aline Umutoni will follow up on the progress and wellbeing of the children on a continuous basis.

Providing scholarships is an integral part of the CITW programme, enabling children from rural backgrounds to complete their schooling education.

In February an official handover of the scholarships will take place in the presence of stakeholders, local government, Ministry of Education, the school administration, local press, the children and their parents.

Youth Environmental Stewardship Programme

The first CITW Youth Environmental Stewardship Programme (YES Club) Rwanda will start with the 80 students who received scholarships. Monthly environmental activities will be organised to raise environmental awareness in the community, build leadership qualities and provide career guidance.

YES Clubs are a continuation of the CITW Eco-Clubs that take place at primary school, with the YES Club focusing on students at secondary school. All 80 children who received the scholarships are former members of the CITW Eco-Club at Bisate Primary School.

The YES Programme focuses on children from Eco-Clubs who show a particular interest in conservation and/or leadership potential. The programme is an extension of concepts introduced in Eco-Clubs, with a greater focus on career guidance, leadership, team building, communication and further environmental education.

Thank you to our donors!

All the above would not have been possible without the support of Robert and Alison Green, Olympus Cameras, Pierre and Margaret from Classic Africa, Hans and Florence Manger, Hans, Martina, Viktoria and Nikolaus Adenauer, Amanda and Jake Pashelinsky/Kowalski, Armstrong Williams, Jane Berkey, Ack Thompson, Andrea Bolte, Diane Blanchard, Nancy and Ron Garret, Julie Skattum, Alison and Andrew Scott, Tom and Victoria Robertshaw, Anne Ballard, Larry and Kelly Anderson, Viviane and Clarissa Ramponi – and many others!

Report by Ingrid Baas