Continuing our series of articles from our Annual Report 2020/21, we outline here our work on our Reaching Rwanda Project.
Sandhurst School has been running its ground-breaking Reaching Rwanda project in partnership with Survivors Fund (SURF) since 2008. Pioneered by the Sandhurst School Deputy Head Sam Hunt, who is also Chair of SURF, the Reaching Rwanda project has worked extensively in Rwanda by linking UK school students with survivors.
The project has three main aims:
- To inform students about the Rwandan genocide and of the continued plight of survivors of the genocide today.
- To connect students with genocide survivors and enable them to become friends.
- To enable students to become actively involved in improving the life chances of genocide survivors and to see the difference their efforts make.
The young people of Sandhurst School are highly engaged in supporting survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide thanks to the efforts of Sam and its dedicated teachers.
Sandhurst School Sixth Form students and local community volunteers have made five visits to Rwanda through the project. An enduring relationship for survivors and the school is now in place with annual skype calls between the students and the survivors. Students have been so moved through their experience and have supported the project raising over £100,000 for genocide orphans.
Devoted to improving education and livelihoods across Rwanda the project has in particular supported ‘Ntarama Survivors Village’ in Bugesera, Eastern Province. Prior to their involvement only 2 young people from the village had ever attended university, but through the Reaching Rwanda support, 7 additional youths have now graduated. The emergency housing built in the village post-genocide is now dilapidated. The villagers lived a nomadic kind of life before receiving the support from the Reaching Rwanda project, staying with friends and relatives who could not provide for their needs. Reaching Rwanda has organised and raised funding to rebuild and furnish 12 houses securing safe accommodation for over 50 widows and child headed households. The Sandhurst Sixth Form Students and volunteers decorate and furnish these homes for local families during their visits.
Additionally, the project has helped 20 widows and 6 youth members of this village to start their own small businesses. 33 further businesses provide an income to 120 survivors, and the project has helped over 25 survivors to attend university, 13 young people to access vocational training and a further 35 to access schooling.
On the most recent visit in February 2020, Sam led a group of 26 people, including 12 members of the Sandhurst School Sixth Form, 6 members of staff, and 8 local supporters of the project. The group renovated dilapidated houses of survivor-headed households in Kamonyi, and delivered 62 suitcases of gifts, toiletries, and educational materials to beneficiaries in need. The visit culminated in a celebration at the site where a new Children’s Centre is planned to be built through funding raised by Reaching Rwanda supporters in Ntarama, which is due to begin construction in 2021.
In recognition for her work with Survivors Fund (SURF) and on the Reaching Rwanda programme specifically, Sam Hunt was honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List.