NYAMYUMBA SECONDARY SCHOOL
Mabawa arrived in Nyamyumba in January 2005 almost by chance, having "in her 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, February 2006, the kids were already at school in the new structure and 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 (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 until winning, in 2019 the first prize for the best school in the southern province.
Today the secondary school offers:
- 20 classrooms including 4 computer rooms,
equipped and connected to the web
- 3 science laboratories: physics, chemistry, and biology
- a library
- a sports ground with covered stands
and a changing room with stock
- two refectories with kitchen and bread oven
- 3 dormitories (1♂︎ and 2 ♀︎) with services
- two guest houses for teachers
- one house for the principal and one for the director of studies
- three offices for the administration
- an incinerator
- a dedicated aqueduct for the water supply
- a project to improve student nutrition with optimization
of the terraces dedicated to the school, a stable with cows
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.
With things done, we realize it was needed and we are glad we did it!
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.
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-10 rules) that, according to government guidelines, we had to install to make it possible for the school to reopen after the lockdown.
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.
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 having to accommodate them to sleep, an emergency solution was found.
In fact, in Rwanda, with rare exceptions in the capital Kigali, 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 to live/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.
A situation finally resolved in 2018: the final men's dormitory with huge capacity in addition to the necessary facilities was 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).
New 2022: The "friendly toilets" adjacent to the girls' dormitories.
During the year 2020 an on-site nurse, Alice Umulisa, held workshops on the topic open to anyone who wanted and could attend.
What emerged, to our surprise, was little knowledge about anything related to menstruation, its management, pregnancy, and prevention.
We are currently working on an extensive "women's empowerment" project and decided to start with providing girls with the appropriate infrastructure.
After finding sponsors, the construction of two "friendly toilets" has begun:
night toilets equipped for menstrual hygiene, allowing girls to use the toilets at night without having to leave the dormitories and to provide their own intimate hygiene without having to go to the showers.
PROJECT IN NYAMYUMBA PLANNED FOR 2023
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.
This is as part of a project that is not just about building: giving access to suitable infrastructure will promote awareness and education of girls on the issues around this topic.
What we would like to achieve will be a change of mindset not only of female students, but also of teachers and school management.
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 is and property of the secondary school.
Il progetto strutturale comprende anche la costruzione di un inceneritore per lo smaltimento dei “sanitary pads”,che ad oggi vengono gettati nelle fosse settiche causando evidenti problematiche alle strutture e all’ambiente.
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.
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.
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!
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.