Chance for Childhood: The Rwandan deaf school
2nd Jun 2021
Have you ever heard of Chance for Childhood? It’s an incredible charity working in Africa to help protect and educate vulnerable children. For over ten years, thinkmoney has been proud fundraisers for the cause and we are currently supporting a deaf school in Rwanda.
The story so far
It all began back in 2007 when we helped to build houses across the country for child-headed houses after many children lost their parents due to genocide.
Over the years, we have raised funds to help the cause in many ways. Here are just a few things that have been made possible thanks to our thinkers donations:
- In 2009, we helped to build a deaf school for children in Musanze, providing funds for the construction. Up until 2016 we also funded their meals, teachers and accommodation for 65-70 children.
- In 2011, 57 goats were distributed to child-headed households with supplies to start vegetable gardens.
- In 2013, 41 deaf adults were supported to leave the school and integrate into mainstream society.
- In 2016, we helped build another school in Nyabihu which opened in 2018, and we continue to support the school and the children who attend.
- In 2017, new school uniforms were provided, and 23 teachers were trained on how to teach Rwandan sign language.
- In 2020, the children were supported with distanced learning during the pandemic.
Catching up with the deaf school
Recently we had a lovely catch-up with the school, where we were able to chat with the students and teachers, see how they’re getting on and find out how Chance for Childhood has changed their lives.
The headteacher filled us in on what has changed since thinkmoney last visited them in 2016. So much has changed over the years and the school is in a much better condition to help more vulnerable children.
On talking about the changes, the headmaster said:
“We are now a very established school with 79 students. We have four kitchen gardens that produce fresh and organic vegetables for the children and the cow that was donated in 2016 by thinkmoney has now reproduced three calves. This gives us enough milk to give the children a good mixture of porridge and milk for breakfast.”
Like it has for everyone, COVID-19 brought about a lot of challenges for the school. The children spent nearly nine months at home, and although the teachers tried to teach them remotely, due to their hearing impairments, this was naturally very difficult since they couldn’t listen to the radio and 98% of the children come from very poor households and do not have access to a television.
When the children returned to school, the challenges didn’t end there. Since they had to wear masks, it goes without saying that this made it very difficult for them to lip-read.
Despite these challenges, it was heartwarming to see the beaming smiles of the children and the hopes and dreams they have for the future.
We had the chance to catch up with some alumni students and current students who opened up about their stories and how the school changed lives.
Alumni student, Tailor
“I had no hope or vision at all. I believe that I would be living in misery and extreme poverty with no food, no clothes, no shelter. I would not be able to provide for myself. The school enabled me to have knowledge and skills that are still vital to my day-to-day life. Thanks to this school I am now a tailor and am employed by the school. Today, I am not only able to support myself, but also my parents and siblings. Also, I am very passionate about my work here because it gives me a sense of giving back to the school that gave me so much. I am no longer the lonely and hopeless child from thirteen years ago.”
Alumni student, Matron
“Attending the deaf school for children changed my life. Before then, my only occupation was to be with my mother and help her out with housework all the time. Apart from signs my mother and I used at home, I had no other communication skills, I was isolated. I had no skills at all. I had no friends to play with. Thanks to communications skills, such as reading and writing, I am now an independent person. I really like the children very much, and whenever I am working with them, I recall moments that I had with matrons that helped me at school. With the salary and my savings, I plan to have a small business house back in my village.”
Student, primary 3
"Being here at school has been very important to me and my family. What makes me happy the most about being here is that I have realised that I am capable to succeed just like every other child my age. My teachers are very nice and caring towards us and I think that’s why I find it quite easy to learn and be successful in my class. My favourite lessons are science and English. I am very motivated about school. I would like to continue my studies and get as far as university. I have a dream of becoming a successful civil engineer."
Student, Primary 4
"I think we’re a privileged school because before COVID-19 we had visits from overseas, so I think we are a very special school. When I go home with good marks it makes my parents very emotional, happy and proud. My favourite lessons are mathematics and Kinyarwanda because I find it easy to communicate with my friends who are not hearing impaired through written texts. I hope to continue my studies and become a veterinarian. In my home village, we have a lot of animals and I think taking care of them as a profession will make them productive and earn me a decent living."
Student, Primary 4
"I am very happy to be here at school as it develops my growth significantly. Also being with children my age with the same problem encourages me, as no one marginalises here. We speak the same language, play the same games, say the same prayers and crack the same jokes. I hope to one day graduate and move into a school of tailoring. I dream of being a self-employed lady with a good family. Thank you to everyone who has supported our education here. We now hope of becoming men and women just like anyone who is not disabled."
If you want to find out more about the amazing work that Chance for Childhood do, check out their website: https://chanceforchildhood.org/
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