Interview: Meg from the Kinamba Project

Meg from the Kinamb Project

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Another interview, this time with someone whose amazing work I’ve seen first hand. A friend of mine was interning at The Kinamba Project when I arrived in Kigali and I got a chance to hang out at the school and see what kinds of great things can happen when someone listens to what the community they’re trying to help wants and builds on existing ideas while offering expertise of their own.

For more information, check out The Kinamba Project website or read this post by Ken from Better Life Cycle who recently stopped by to help out (and also took the photo above). If you’re looking for somewhere to volunteer while you’re in Kigali, check them out.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a retired Primary Headteacher from the UK, interested in many things – travel, conservation, human rights.

When did you first come to Rwanda?

I came to Rwanda after retiring to work on a 2 year contract with VSO as an education management advisor.

What happened on that trip?

I was here for two years 2006/2007 and was privileged to see many parts of the country and work with many teachers.

When did you get the idea to start a school?

I did not start the school; I do not think it is my place to do that. I joined in with two Rwandan people who were trying to do something about poor children who could not get into education.

Why Kigali? What is it about this city that made you want to help with the school?

I was in Kigali, there is obvious need here for poor and vulnerable people.

Did you encounter a lot of bureaucracy or barriers?

There is some bureaucracy, the main problem was understanding the system and being sure to have all the information required.

How did you raise the funds and how do you continue to fundraise?

Initially I was supported by friends, teacher colleagues in the UK and family. We eventually set up a registered charity in the UK. We raise funds through sponsorship, donations, events, talks to groups etc.

What sort of gap in the Rwandan education system do you think your school fills?

The very large majority of children in our school do not have the very basic funds to pay to go to school. We are principally a nursery and there is no free nursery provision that I know of – we make no charge and provide all the materials and equipment.

Can you tell us about the school?

At our place we have nursery and primary preparation classes and we support a growing number in local primary schools. Many of our children are older than would normally be expected because this is the first chance they have had to get into education. We have a feeding programme, which helps the under-nourished children. We have a small adult programme also – teaching literacy and basic income-generating skills.

We make no charge, but parents who have the means make a voluntary donation which we use for the feeding programme.

What advice do you have for anyone else who might want to do something similar?

  1. We are a locally registered NGO with local people as founder members. This is important.
  2. Make sure you research all the regulations and requirements to start.
  3. Be sure you have a carefully regulated and secure system for how the money is spent and how the accounts are kept.

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.