July marks the end of the Rwandan school year, and all 140 CITW students who are being sponsored for six years of schooling wrote letters to thank their donors for their support. A big pile of letters reached our office this week!
What a joy to read through the letters and realise how much this support impacts the students and the schools.
The scholarship students attend the three secondary schools CITW Rwanda is partnered with. A staggering 108 students are supported in their studies at Bisate Secondary School (close to Wilderness Bisate), while 16 scholarship students attend Rwabiharamba Secondary School in the area just outside Akagera National Park, where Wilderness Magashi is located. Sixteen Kinihira Secondary School students from the community close to at Gishwati Forest are also sponsored.
The scholarships are valued at USD1 800 per student for the duration of the six years. Included in the scholarship are the school fees, lessons and study materials, school meals and school uniforms. Over the years we have noticed that this is one of the most impactful ways to support not only a child, but also their family and the surrounding community.
First of all, the child has the opportunity of a bright and educated future; secondly, the family has financial relief, and these finances can be used for other necessities or to support other children in their education; and lastly, the community at large benefits, especially if more students from the same community receive the sponsorship. We have noticed a positive shift in the villages where the whole community starts to see the importance of education and conservation.
The funding for these 140 scholarships is generously provided by Wilderness Bisate, Sabyinyo and Magashi guests and trade partners. We are hoping to grow our support for the 2023-2024 school year and that we will be able to fund many more scholarships!
Our CITW Rwanda team, the various Community Committees, Eco-Club mentors and the Heads of the schools carefully chose the learners on the basis of academic merit and participation in their Eco-Clubs (CITW’s interactive, fun and educational environmental skills programme for primary school children). In order to retain the scholarship in each grade, learners must maintain good academic results, while showing dedication, motivation and good behaviour. CITW Rwanda Programme Co-ordinator, Aline Umutoni, monitors the progress of each learner on a regular basis.
“It is fantastic to read all the letters and see the appreciation that the children show to their donors. They mention things like ‘you changed my life’ or ‘I will never forget the support and hope to do this for someone else one day’. It shows that the children are willing to work hard to make the most of this opportunity”, mentioned Aline, after reading the thank you letters.
The schools will reopen in September 2023 for the new school year.