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Mabawa arrived in Nyamyumba in January 2005 almost by chance, having "in its pocket" funds earmarked for the construction of a school.

During a meeting with the then Minister of Education, the need for secondary schools and a meal a day to facilitate attendance and school performance was highlighted: the area was then absolutely poor and the children arrived at school with an empty stomach.


On March 8, the first stone of the middle school was laid and in less than a year 4 classrooms, a kitchen, and a dining hall were built: never have I seen such enthusiasm in front of a full plate... we were on the right track!


At the inauguration in February 2006, the kids were already at school in the new structure when the Governor asked "but where do we put the students to sleep?". Amazement... "but the kids go home!". We discovered that they didn't go home because they lived far away, the families didn't have the means to take care of necessities (light, table, food) and above all, it was fundamental in the post-genocide period to learn to live together again.


During these years, our secondary school has made great strides, becoming a school of excellence that welcomes promising students even winning, in 2019 the first prize for the best school in the southern province.


Today the secondary school offers:

- 23 classrooms including 4 computer rooms equipped and connected to the web

  And science labs: physics, chemistry and biology

- a library, with many books to Books For Africa

- a sports ground with covered stands and locker room with stock

- two refectories with kitchen and bread oven

- 3 dormitories (1♂︎ e 2 ♀︎) with services

- Friendly toilets adjacent to the girls' dormitories, equipped for menstrual hygiene

- Two Girls Rooms MHM

- Two guesthouses for teachers

- One house for principal and one for director of studies

- three offices for administration

- an incinerator

- an aqueduct Dedicated for water supply

- a project to improve student nutrition with optimization of terraces dedicated to the school, a barn with cows

Google Earth view
Panoramica della scuola secondaria

The boundary wall

The boundary wall, which was somehow imposed by the government, initially seemed to us to be a non-priority expense.

Eventually, after pressure from the district, which participated in the work by providing the bricks at cost price, the wall was erected around the girls' area.

It gives them great security, especially during the night, and this adds to the vast ongoing project for women's empowerment: friendly toilets , Girls Rooms (MHM) for menstrual period management and incinerator for sanitary material.

To date, the fence covers almost the entire school area and has proven to be truly indispensable.



There are currently 20 classes in use:


- Four were built by Mabawa in 2005, along with the first two administrative offices

- six recovered from the old elementary school and renovated, including the first computer room all provided by Mabawa

- three obtained from the old multipurpose room, now computer rooms by Mabawa

- seven were built by the District on two occasions (2013 and 2020)



The District government has provided for the construction of five new classrooms in 2020. This was to encourage social distancing during classes. At the end of the work, the funds available to them were finished... a classic! Mabawa had to step in with an unplanned expense to finish the beautiful classrooms.


Add to that the WASH station for hand washing (Covid-19 rules) that, according to government guidelines, we had to install to make it possible for the school to reopen after the lockdown.

Stazione WASH per Covid-19


Despite from the library an extra class was carved out, the number of classes for junior juniors as of September 2023 was still less than the demand: there were more than 86 juniors in the first juniors!

After discussions with district officials, who forwarded the request to our association, we decided to start work on the construction of 3 new classrooms. Work began in early October 2023 and was completed in early 2024.


Two refectories with kitchen and bread oven

The first refectory was built by Mabawa at the beginning of the project in 2005 along with the first kitchen.

As the number of students increased, Mabawa built a second refectory adjacent to the first one in 2012 and enlarged the kitchen.

Since 2018, bread has been produced thanks to an eco-friendly oven provided by Mabawa and installed outside.




After a visit by a nutritionist from Ticino in 2015, the nutritional deficiencies of the students became apparent.

Unfortunately given a large number of students and limited funds, school nutrition was lacking and school performance suffered.


5 hectares of radical terraces at the secondary school provide an important part of the students' nutrition, and

Mabawa now participates by supplying eggs, bananas, cheese, and avocados once a week. Thanks to the ecological oven, bread has also been integrated into the students' weekly diet.

DSC_0075 1.JPG

Three dormitories (1♂︎ & 2 ♀︎) with facilities

The secondary school was completed in a short time (2005), equipped with a dining hall and kitchen. At the beginning of the following school year 94 students arrived and discovering having to accommodate them to sleep, an emergency solution was found.


In fact, with rare exceptions in the capital Kigali, in Rwanda high schools are all of the "college" type.

This can be explained because the distances are very long and the means of communication are not very developed, but also because it is a country where the need to learn/relearn to live together is fundamental, after the tragic events of the genocide of 1994.

The first temporary dorms and showers...never seen kids so happy to finally be in school!

Just as we were looking for the funds to build the dormitories with permanent facilities, we were offered help from several quarters and were thus able to accomplish what seemed out of our reach: two dormitories, one male and one female, both with showers, latrines and septic tanks.

At the beginning of the year 2013, the number of students increased exponentially. The multipurpose room, built in the meantime, was "temporarily" used as a men's dormitory (without the necessary toilets) and the two existing dormitories were assigned to girls.


The situation was finally resolved in 2018: the final men's dormitory with huge capacity and the necessary facilities were built by Mabawa.


Currently, the secondary school has one male dormitory and two female dormitories, with modern toilets and showers, equipped with a shower water recycling system for flushing toilets (click here for project presentation).

Nuovi dormitori 2018
Interno dormitori 2018

In 2023, the two female dormitory probationers' rooms and the showers, also in the women's section, are being renovated: the commissioning of the new waterworks allows them to be connected to the water supply, with no longer the need to fill the bucket at the fountain before going to the cubicles for personal hygiene. Showers have also been doubled, given the increase in the number of girls since 2006.

Friendly Toilets

Friendly Toilets

The "friendly toilets" adjacent to the girls' dormitories.

The implementation of the project has greatly impacted the girls by giving them "visibility" and importance and improving the whole context of hygiene and safety: before for intimate hygiene they had to use the showers placed about 60 meters from the dormitory by filling a bucket and making do somehow, which especially at night they did not do (let's not forget that being under the equator, in Nyamyumba darkness lasts from 18:00 to 06:00). Now they have toilets equipped with showers.


Not having to go out at night, in the dark, to the toilets eliminated the problem of using the garden as a fallback and the imaginable inconveniences, and improved the girls' access to personal hygiene.

The system of collecting "sanitary pads" has replaced the habit of throwing them into the septic tank and they are now disposed of in the incinerator. It is a simple but effective system: sanitary pads are collected in containers that are then emptied into the incinerator by a person in charge, who also ensures proper combustion to prevent the release of toxic substances.


Specifically, two friendly toilets were built:

  • The first consisting of 3 sinks and 8 cubicles equipped with toilet and hand shower for hygiene

  • The second consisting of 3 sinks and 7 cubicles, equipped with toilet and hand shower for hygiene


Both facilities have a door on the outside, which is locked during the day to allow access to those responsible for cleaning.


Access to the dormitories during the day is reserved for the sick and any necessities, however, use of the friendly toilets remains reserved exclusively for the night and early morning toilet.


The boundary wall

The boundary wall, which was somehow imposed by the government, initially seemed to us to be a non-priority expense.

Eventually, after pressure from the district, which participated in the work by providing the bricks at cost price, the wall was erected around the girls' area and along the road below the school.

The road has a lot of traffic, especially since the government installed the military camp with recruit school there and they pass through it daily.


When it is done, we realize it was needed and we are glad we did it!

It gives them great security, especially at night, and this is in addition to the extensive ongoing project for women's empowerment: friendly night toilets, MHM room for menstrual period management, and incinerator for sanitary materials.

Sale MHM

MHM Rooms



After the implementation of the friendly toilets, we intend to give girls an intimate space where they can manage everything related to hygiene and menstrual health by building two MHM (Menstrual Health Management) rooms.

Girls Rooms

After the implementation of the friendly toilets, the aim with this project was to provide the girls with tools and infrastructure necessary for the evolution of their empowerment journey: the overall goal was for the girls to feel comfortable during their menstrual period, to have the knowledge and skills to be able to deal independently with both the practical point of view (hygiene and proper disposal of sanitary materials) and the moral and psychological management of everything related to their intimacy, with an eye also turned toward the prevention of diseases and unwanted pregnancies and clearly to the better knowledge of their intimate sphere.


Through this joint infrastructure and teaching work, there was also a desire to promote an overall change in mentality (including school management and teachers), bringing the vision in line with that promoted by the government in recent years with respect to the issues of menstrual health management and sexual and reproductive health.


A physical space has been created where girls discuss the issue, attend trainings and seminars, ask questions and get answers: placed within the "girls' cloister."
In these spaces, in addition to the more theoretical part, the management of the menstrual period is also facilitated by having a dedicated room equipped to allow those who feel the need to retreat, take care of themselves, rest, manage menstrual pain and take care of hygiene. The provision of necessary materials, always present, is another added value.

The dedicated incinerator

The construction of a dedicated incinerator for "sanitary pads" has given the school the opportunity to dispose of the sanitary material in a proper and environmentally friendly manner, which is no longer thrown into septic tanks but collected in containers that are periodically emptied into the incinerator.
The disposal in the incinerator is taken care of by a person in charge, trained in order to prevent the dispersion of pollutants due to the components contained in the "sanitary pads" (100% cotton ones are not easily found except in pharmacies and at unreasonable prices).

Learning and empowerment project

The formation of a team among the girls "mentors" for "women's issues" has been crucial in promoting peer-to-peer discussion, in addition to the educational offerings open to all promoted by Nurse Alice Umulisa, who constantly offers moments of exchange and seminars. Printed handouts have also been created and are always present within the halls, answering the most important questions regarding the issue. 

Male students also have access to awareness and information to all areas touched by the project and willingly participate in trainings held by Alice Umulisa also pertaining to sexual health.


Guesthouse for professors and director's house

To overcome Nyamyumba's isolation and foster quality and continuity of education, Mabawa built a guesthouse for resident teachers in 2007: 10 rooms, sanitary facilities, a dining room with a kitchen, and a living room-meeting room.

The principal' house was built by Mabawa in 2016 and it is property of the secondary school.

The structural project includes the construction of an incinerator for "sanitary pads", that up until now have been thrown in the septic tanks, causing obvious problems the both the structures and the environment.

In 2020-2021, construction began on a second "Home". With the addition of the science section and sports field, the number of teachers increased and one facility was no longer enough.


The entrance to the Home Prof with the three science laboratories for chemistry, physics and biology.


The scientific section - the three laboratories of physics, chemistry and biology

The reputation of the secondary school improves year by year bringing it closer to excellence and the construction of a science section is part of this journey.


In addition, this step allows the school to offer more opportunities to students, with certain and diverse job outlets.

Thus, we have built three laboratories for physics, chemistry, and biology, which have been in operation since 2020.


The first laboratory was co-financed by the Adiuvare foundation, the second laboratory by FOSIT with the federal fund of the SDC and the third laboratory by the Accentus-Symphasis foundation



The secondary school library continues to improve:

in mid-2019 Books for Africa had announced many boxes of books coming in... after delays due to the pandemic situation finally in January 2022 the children received many boxes.

They were so happy with the donation that they proceeded to unload the boxes from the Pick-up truck, open them, and rearrange the books themselves in the shelves we had our carpenter Fabien build for the occasion.

They are books that encompass various themes and are already a big hit with the students.

Many thanks to Books for Africa and those who provided, even with small donations, to support us in building the shelves.


Sports ground

In the plan of the Ministry of Education, it is imposed that children play at least two hours of sports per week and for a long time the school had to "invent" places where to practice some kind of sport.


With the progress of the secondary school, it became necessary to intervene by building an equipped sports field: sport is a necessity for teenagers who work hard and don't move!


Work began in January 2020 (the ground was already prepared in late 2019) and would have been finished in no time but the Covid-19 pandemic situation led to a long lockdown and it was only in November 2020, with the resumption of classes, that the basketball and volleyball court could be fully enjoyed.

Immediately after the implementation of the sports field, a tiered seating area with a canopy, which we call the "stands" or "stadium", was built to allow the pupils to sit indoors when they are not engaged in a game on the field. As you can see from the photographs, it was very much appreciated!


In October 2020 we had not only the rainy season but real torrential rainfall!


A large infiltration of water created damage to the sports field and forced us to take prompt action to secure the slope.


But every cloud has a silver lining: we have protected the ground by building drainage channels and this has allowed us to permanently fix any excess water due to the famous climate changes...

In 2021, the project was further extended with the construction of the two changing rooms and the sports equipment store.

During the construction work, a problem with the ground revealed the need for deep foundations, which were immediately implemented, albeit at a higher cost.


Dedicated Aqueduct

Currently, the secondary school does not have a water supply system but is connected to the main and only aqueduct that serves about 1500 people living in Greater Nyamyumba. In addition to these, there are 870 kindergarten, primary, and secondary school students plus an uncalculated number of farmers from neighboring areas. 


Being located at the end of the pipeline, the school is sometimes without water and often has reduced access and insufficient consumption. There is water during the rainy seasons, but the dry seasons can be very harsh and long, and with climate change, reliable projections can no longer be made.


The discovery of the new Gafumba spring marked the beginning of this new project: a dedicated aqueduct with a connection to it.


The work was carried out in 2021 at a rapid pace, demonstrating the real need! Adrien Ntegeryimana, an engineer, did an excellent job, finding a second spring, Gahama, which collected the water from the first one and with an excellent water supply. Now the school has plenty of water!

Tragitto acquedotto

In order to resume classes after the lockdown, the government mandated the construction of WASH stations for handwashing, which were later connected to the dedicated water supply and provide water for both hygiene and drinking.

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