We are looking to build five Innovation Centers in rural villages in Rwanda, beginning with Mayange,. These centers will serve as spaces that will bring together the over 900 educated young people who work with Seven United each year to use their skills to help fight poverty. They will be able to work directly with community stakeholders and design creative solutions specifically tailored to individuals, including giving access to technology and internet to students, small shop owners, and others in these rural settings.
Mayange Community School Project
Seven United has recently launched a project to build a secondary school in Mayange, a remote village located in the southeastern part of Rwanda. We identified the overwhelmingly low level of literacy as one of the most pressing problems in the Mayange village. The level of illiteracy is higher in this region than it is in any other region of the country, particularly among girls and women. Children from this village and neighboring villages have to walk for up to two hours to reach the nearest existing school, which can only accommodate a small number of students. Currently, some of these children end up staying home because the school is too far or because they cannot afford school fees.
Of these children, 20 percent are orphans and face the risk of ending up on the street. The goal of this project is to establish a village school to give local children a good education and, especially, to give street children and children from very poor families a better chance in life. Mayange Community School will take in 120 boys and girls and will transform the fate of many children in this village. The school will provide children from extremely low-income families with access to quality education despite their poor background. Seven United plans to expand in five years to accommodate 300 children who are in need of good quality education in the Mayange vicinity.
Bugesera District, the region in which Mayange is located, suffered the highest mass killings during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The recovery of the village was hindered by a historic drought that followed from 1998 to 2002 and remains one of the driest areas of the country. As a result, this region has not kept up with the speed of socio-economic growth that the rest of Rwanda has experienced in the past 20 years. The school will employ a revamped curriculum and an innovative model of knowledge delivery that will help students emerge as successful adults and responsible citizens. More importantly, its multi-purpose facility it will serve the community as a ladder through which they can climb out of isolation and poverty. Through Mayange Community School, kids will be well-equipped, empowered and inspired to dream big.
Seven United has already acquired two hectare (nearly five acres) of land for this purpose and is raising funds to kick start the construction. The members of local community want the school and will be involved in the construction process and the running of the school. This will lower the cost of construction and will establish a sense of ownership among students’ parents. In addition, the construction of the school will use locally available materials and will employ local people, leaving over 60 percent of the construction budget in the pockets of the people Mayange.
The level of support for the project from the local community as well as national leaders is very encouraging. Seven United will build on this trust to ensure the viability and sustainability of the school.
Mayange Community School will seek to enable children to become joy-filled active learners, intellectually curious individuals, and proactive and ethical citizens. To accomplish these ends, the school shall focus on the primacy of exploration and discovery and the advancement of skills mastery and shall enable students to shape meaning from knowledge.
In order to sustain this mission, the school will emphasize the following as pillars of quality education:
- Promoting the leadership of teachers and investing in their professional development.
- Equipping children to be independent thinkers who can transform ideas into meaningful actions and can actively participate in their learning and growth.
- Encouraging learning through cooperation and collaboration within the school and with the larger Mayange community.
- Cultivating an appreciation for the power of creative thinking and academic excellence.
- Emphasizing hands-on learning through contact with primary sources and actual materials.
Community Service Projects
Each year, Seven United has mobilized groups of young adults to launch projects ranging from building and repairing houses for orphans and widows to providing poor families with health insurance. Over 500 members of Seven United in Rwanda engage in peer education and raising awareness about sensitive issues. We have created programs through which we have trained local families to prepare balanced, healthy meals and taught rural families how to avoid diseases like malaria and HIV. Our programs have encouraged youth to be the catalyst that educates and serves their communities, an effective and innovative approach.