Continuing our series of articles from our Annual Report 2022/23, 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 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and of the continued plight of survivors 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 Samantha and its dedicated teachers.
Sandhurst School Sixth Form students and local community volunteers have made eight visits to Rwanda through the project. An enduring relationship for survivors and the school is now in place with regular skype calls between the students and the survivors. Students have been so moved through their experience and have supported the project raising approaching £300,000 for genocide orphans.
Devoted to improving education and livelihoods across Rwanda the project has in particular supported ‘Ntarama Survivors Village’ in Bugesera, Eastern Province.
After two years of planning, finally the long-awaited seventh Reaching Rwanda visit arrived in Kigali in July 2022. SURF Chair, Sam Hunt MBE, who developed the educational programme and led the first visit in 2010 in her professional role as Deputy Headteacher of Sandhurst School, was accompanied by 23 students and teachers from the school, as well as members of the local community who have long–supported SURF and the Reaching Rwanda project.
Each person brought with them gifts donated by other students and well-wishers, including toys, educational materials, and toiletries which were distributed to hundreds of children that the project supports. As well, the group visited Philly’s Place, a unique children’s centre which has been made possible through the funding and support of donors to Reaching Rwanda. Philly’s Place offers free tuition in Kinyarwanda, English, maths and science, as well as weekly programmes in art, dance, music, sport, drama and clothes tailoring to approximately 600 local children of all ages. The centre is over run every week and is becoming an important community hub.
The success of the visit, can be summed up by the testimonial of one of the participants, Alfie:
“Rwanda was one of the most unfathomably phenomenal experiences I have had in my life. The things we witnessed, the things we did, and the people we met, were so incredible that I can’t use words to adequately describe it. It didn’t hit me, until soon after we arrived back, that we had changed so many individual lives, and affected so many people to the extent that we did; I can definitely say, without hesitation, we made an important difference to these people, and those people have made an enormous difference to us.”