All posts by Sarah Harrington

Rachel Mahuku

Rachel Mahuku

Meet Rachel Mahuku, Wellspring’s Senior Manager in charge of Community Involvement and Partnerships. Rachel’s been a huge part of our team since 2012 and has seen our work grow immensely under her care and dedication. We’re so thankful for Rachel’s wisdom and joyous outlook, especially as we move into an exciting new season for Wellspring!

Rachel was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and completed her Bachelor of Education degree in Kenya. She moved to Rwanda to work as an Assistant Lecturer at the Kigali Institute of Education (now University of Rwanda, College of Education) before taking her Master’s degree in Education in Uganda. Her experience in education in all of these cultural contexts, as well as her many years serving as a teacher and head teacher, made her the perfect fit for Wellspring in 2012.

When Rachel first joined Wellspring, she served as a Program Manager. She participated as a Wellspring representative in the Rwanda Education NGO Coordination Platform (RENCP – a working group that coordinates the efforts of the many educational NGOs working in Rwanda) and worked closely with the Rwandan Education Board. Rachel spent many hours from 2013 to 2015 working tirelessly with the government as they created a brand new school curriculum. Rachel helped the curriculum shift from a teacher-centric methodology (focusing on lecturing and placing the teacher at the centre of lessons) to a learner-centric one (focusing on active participation and placing the student at the centre of lessons). Now, the Competence-Based Curriculum has been fully implemented into schools in Rwanda. Instead of emphasizing memorization, lessons are focused on creating competencies in students to ready them for life after school. Cross-cutting issues and values are taught regularly thanks to this new curriculum, and we’re proud to say that Rachel and Wellspring were a part of this process.

In 2016, Rachel became a Senior Manager at Wellspring. She now leads our Community Involvement team, which implements Asset-Based Community Development in local school communities, and supports Wellspring’s partnerships. This includes our partnerships with organizations such as AEBR in Rwanda’s Western Province, other educational NGOs through RENCP, and work done in coordination with the National Education Sector.

As Wellspring moves forward, Rachel is excited about the transformation in Gasabo spreading to other districts, such as Rubavu. She sees Wellspring’s work in Gasabo as only the beginning, and is eager to discover innovative new techniques that will improve and grow our impact as we seek to help education be redeemed in Rwanda.

Kanyundo Primary

A Response to a Child

Kanyundo Primary is a place that stands out against its surroundings. With a backdrop of hilly tea plantations and rural dirt roads, the well-kept compound almost looks out of place. A basketball court and small playground give kids a place to play and get out their energy so they can pay better attention in class. The grass fields don’t have a speck of litter on them and small handwashing stations sit outside classrooms, promoting hygiene amongst the school population. Kanyundo Primary stands out because the community has invested. Local parents want this school to provide an education worthy of their children. And, in return, the school is pouring back into the community.

Since Wellspring began our training a year ago, Kanyundo Primary has dramatically improved. Classrooms here were previously full of distrust and fear. Kids were beaten for showing up a few minutes late or getting a math question wrong. Now, classrooms are welcoming and respectful places. The teachers use love and encouragement to promote learning amongst their students. Children used to dread school but now they are eager to learn. This schoolwide transformation is stemming from a leader who has adopted a servant heart.

“I’m not ashamed to testify that I have been transformed by Wellspring. Wellspring has transformed me and now, the school is being transformed too.” – Félicienne

Instead of leading from a lofty, isolated position, Félicienne, the Head Teacher, has eagerly taken to Wellspring’s trainings and now leads the school by example. When you see her around the schoolyard, she is talking with teachers and laughing with students. No longer is she unapproachable. Now, she adopts a humble attitude and speaks with great humility about the success of the school of recent national exams. When she shares her dream for the Kanyundo Primary’s future, her eyes light up and her hands become more animated.

“My dream is to see a 100% transition rate at our school for students moving from primary to secondary. But as a foundation, I want to ensure that we are a school based on values. This school is going to be a place where community members can come to learn values from us. When they visit, they will notice a difference. They will know that Wellspring has come to this school.”

Her passion for Kanyundo Primary is evident not just in her words, but also her actions. Félicienne has been leading groups of teachers and students out into the community to engage with families who pulled their children out of school. After seeing her do this a few times, students at the school felt moved to start a club, which they called “A Response to a Child”. This club provides a framework for the students to do community outreach. They are seeking out their peers who have dropped out of school and are bringing them back to the classroom. The results of this initiative have been astounding. Kanyundo Primary has created a class specifically for students who formerly dropped out so they can encourage and support one another through issues in their home life and work together to make up for the time they missed. The students in this class recently began learning how to write and they are eager to continue moving forward in their education.

Kanyundo Primary is unrecognizable from the school it was a year ago, but there is still work to be done. Other schools in the sector are so hungry for the same transformation that Kanyundo has experienced that they are sending their teachers to learn from multipliers (teachers who have received high-level training from Wellspring) here. This hunger is why Wellspring is committing to move into all 86 primary schools in the Rubavu district. We want to come alongside schools to help them overcome deep-set educational issues just like at Kanyundo Primary. But to do this, we need your help. Will you partner with us as we help improve education in the Rubavu district?

Help improve education

Shauna Cheng

Shauna Cheng

Meet Shauna Cheng, Wellspring’s Operations Administrator. Shauna is the glue that holds our North American team together, as she oversees our daily office operations. We wouldn’t know what to do without her! She’s great at tying her passion for the outdoors into her passion for Wellspring, and even co-created the Peak Week fundraiser. We’re so thankful that Shauna is part of our Wellspring’s family!

Shauna was raised in Matheson, a small town in Northern Ontario before taking the plunge and moving out to the Pacific Northwest, where she now lives in Port Moody. She received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in International Studies, with a focus in international development and cultural change. Her thesis focused on the importance of education in development, which gave her the perfect background for working with Wellspring! Before joining our team, Shauna worked in the Mayor’s office at the City of Surrey. She became a Wellspring team member in May 2013, on the very week of the Wellspring Gala, which is now an event that she coordinates!

“Once I heard about Wellspring’s vision for education and their model of development, I knew there was something special here, and I wanted to be part of it. It’s encouraging to hear stories of all the good work our Rwandan team is doing, and it’s a real privilege to share Wellspring’s mission with local communities here in Canada. This is a great team and I love that I get to be a part of it!”

Shauna works in our Public Engagement department, which means she spends her days engaging with the public about Wellspring’s work! She takes charge of many of our events, coordinates school engagement with local BC classes, and oversees our peer-to-peer fundraising program. Shauna’s yearly highlight is Wellspring’s Gala. Preparation for each year’s gala starts almost as soon as the previous one ends, and Shauna is there for all of it. She loves seeing the details come together throughout the year, watching people be impacted by Wellspring’s vision on the night, and helping them engage with our work afterwards. You can RSVP to our Vancouver Gala on May 11th and be part of this experience!

In Wellspring’s future, Shauna is excited for our move into Rwanda’s Western Province. As this region faces so many unique challengessuch as increased dropout rates, gender-based violence, and high levels of povertyshe’s looking forward to seeing mindsets transformed as Wellspring works to combat these issues.

Vedaste Byombi

Vedaste Byombi

Meet Vedaste Byombi Kamasa, Wellspring’s Community Involvement Project Manager and District Liaison—he joined our family in 2012. Since then, he’s played a major role in many aspects of Wellspring’s work—he even helps our gala films come together each year (RSVP to the Vancouver gala on May 11th to see this year’s films)! We’re so grateful to have spent the past five years with Vedaste and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Vedaste was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he completed his secondary schooling before moving to Rwanda for university. His education experience was shaped by splitting his schooling between these two countries, as one instructs in French and the other in English. Because of this, Vedaste pursued his Bachelor’s degree in both English and French education. After completing his Masters of Business Administration, he’s now pursuing his Ph.D. in Business Administration (Finance). Before working with Wellspring, Vedaste served as the Head Teacher at Rwanyanza School, a school in which Wellspring currently works.

“I remember when we started Asset Based Community Development, it was like a dream but seeing the outcome, it is unbelievable! When I see those changes, I feel this it is not only a job but a ministry of transforming people.”

When Vedaste joined Wellspring in 2012, he began as a Quality Education trainer. Back then, he spent his days in the field, working with teachers to pass along quality education techniques. In 2013, Vedaste was appointed to his current position of Community Involvement Project Manager. He still spends a lot of time in the field, but now he emphasizes the importance of Asset-Based Community Development to parents and school communities, which allows for the growth and sustainability of quality education. Vedaste is also our District Liaison, which means he supports Gasabo district in implementing education policy at a grassroots level, such as the new Competence-Based Curriculum.

Vedaste is driven by his optimistic spirit and faith, both of which reached a new level upon joining Wellspring and seeing the generous spirit of our donors. Vedaste’s favourite Wellspring memory is witnessing the transformation of a parent at Kinyinya School. Previously, this parent focused on what he lacked and could not see a way to provide for his children. With the help of Vedaste and Wellspring’s Community Involvement team, this parent learned to focus on his assets and strengths instead. Through this, he found a way to contribute to the school feeding program to ensure his children could participate in lunch and other school activities. This parent is now motivated to contribute to the school community and provide for his children. In Rwanda’s future, Vedaste is excited about the new generation of Rwandans being shaped through Wellspring’s initiatives, as they receive the legacy of education.

Parents at Shango Primary

Being Part of the Solution

“I’m committing myself to no longer being part of the problem. Instead, I’m going to be part of the solution,” said a parent at Shango Primary’s general assembly meeting. He was referring to the lack of comprehension in parents about the importance of education for their children. Previously, he held the belief that it was the government’s responsibility to educate his children and didn’t want to involve himself in the process. He didn’t contribute to the school community, didn’t visit his children’s teachers to hear about their performance, didn’t help with homework, and didn’t pay school fees, which put his children’s education at risk.

The lack of understanding about why education is important for children is a major problem in Rwanda today. Because parents haven’t been educated about the future value of schooling, they are more likely to pull their child out of school to earn money now. They are less likely to be involved with their child’s education, which manifests in many ways, such as not helping with homework and not engaging with teachers. Parents are key stakeholders in a child’s education and, without their involvement, a child is not supported on all sides, which hinders their path to success. To combat this issue Wellspring has developed our Asset-Based Community Development training to be a key part of our work in schools.

A father at Shango shares

Asset-Based Community Development focuses on empowering people to help themselves. Instead of focusing on what they do not have, this approach emphasizes the community’s assets and strengths. Once the assets of the community are identified, they can be connected to areas of need and mobilized, which results in empowered citizens and improved community life. At Wellspring, we help parents to recognize that they play a significant role in the education of their children. Once this understanding takes root, our Community Involvement team works with these parents to realize how their assets and involvement can strengthen the quality of education at their local school.

At Shango Primary, the impact of Asset-Based Community Development training is abundantly clear. Because parents are engaging more and following up on the well-being of their children, the school leadership are being more responsible. The grounds are kept clean and tidy to protect children. Hand-washing stations have been installed and a barber service is offered by a local parent to promote hygiene in students. A school store has even been set up through the parent-teacher committee to help those in need purchase school uniforms, materials, and food at an affordable price. Parent involvement has transformed the school and the people in it.

Haircuts at Shango

After saying that he wanted to become part of the solution, this parent committed himself to promoting Wellspring’s trainings to other members of the community. He agreed to work with connectors (parents elected by the parent-teacher committee who are trusted to connect the community to their assets) to sensitize other parents to their role in their child’s education. Because of initiatives like this to reach out to other parents in the community, 90 of 108 students who had dropped out of the school have returned to complete their education. The parents are committed to reaching the families of those last eighteen students to bring the dropout rate at Shango Primary to zero. They believe that every child has the right to an education, no matter their circumstances.

The transformation of the parents at Shango Primary demonstrates how Asset-Based Community Development can strengthen a school and the education of every child in that school. Here at Wellspring, we believe in holistic transformation in education, which means working with parents to help them understand how to best use their assets to make quality education practical and sustainable at their local school. We look forward to the future as we continue our work with parents to empower them to become involved in their child’s education. Will you join with us on this journey?

Help Us Empower Parents

Louise Reilly

Louise Reilly

Meet Louise Reilly, Wellspring’s Director of Public Engagement. We’ve been blessed to have Louise as part of our North American team since 2013. We can’t imagine our office without her bubbly presence, hard work, and commentary of Andy Murray’s tennis matches!

Louise was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland before hearing the call of the Pacific Northwest and moving to Canada in 2003, where she obtained her Masters of Christian Studies (with a Missions and Social Justice focus) at Regent College. She now lives in Langley with her husband Phil and their children. Before Wellspring, she served as the Research Manager at CCA (the UK Customer Contact Association) for twelve years, working remotely from Canada while studying and raising her two sons.

“My role with Wellspring is so much more than a job. It’s a daily privilege to play a small part in seeing the real and lasting change that education can bring, both in the lives of individuals and the trajectory of nations. I’m constantly inspired by my Rwandan friends who do this work on the ground, and who bring light and hope wherever they go. And I’m humbled too by our partners here in North America who give so generously in many ways to see Wellspring’s vision become a reality. It’s a complete joy to be part of this story!”

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Beatrice Namango

Beatrice Namango

Meet Béatrice Namango, one of Wellspring’s Quality Education trainers. She joined our team in 2007 and has been bringing transformation to education in Rwanda for a decade! We’re so thankful for Beatrice’s role in the Wellspring family.

“Wellspring has been an incredible friend to Rwanda by playing a big role in creating the new curriculum. This will soon produce critical thinkers, who are capable of solving any problem and are full of positive values. This is why I love working with Wellspring!”

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International Women's Day 2017

Female Empowerment at Bweramvura

At Bweramvura Primary, a game of soccer is underway on a field overlooking the ridges and valleys that give Rwanda the name “Land of a Thousand Hills”. The scenery is stunning, but it is the sight on the pitch that is the most impactful: boys and girls playing together as equals. Not long ago, co-ed sports were forbidden. Girls were seen as unable to keep up with boys both physically and intellectually. Now, as a female student sends the banana leaf ball soaring into the upper right corner of the goal while her headmistress watches, it is clear that schools like Bweramvura are defying this archaic way of thinking. Wellspring is privileged to play a role in promoting female empowerment in schools across Rwanda through our training about the inherent worth and potential of young women.

There’s an old saying in Kinyarwanda that goes “Impamyabumenyi y’umugore ni umugabo we”. When translated, it means “a wife’s degree is her husband”, or that a girl doesn’t need an education, she only needs to be married. A parent at Bweramvura addressed this ideology, calling it an “outdated and wrong way of thinking”, but admitted that he shared this view until recently. After experiencing Wellspring’s training, he understood the potential of his daughter and sought to give her the same opportunities that he had previously only provided to his son. Now, both his son and daughter want to become teachers after finishing their studies. Their father is supporting them equally.

Stories like this are just one example of how Wellspring is working to combat gender-based discrimination in education. By empowering leaders like Primitiva, the head teacher of Bweramvura Primary, Wellspring is helping communities to see a powerful example of strong female leadership. For the young women studying at Bweramvura, Primitiva is a role model. She is a daily reminder of what they can achieve, given the opportunity.

Primitiva, International Women's Day

Primitiva is ensuring her female students receive just as much support as the male students. Her teachers are trained to focus on both genders equally and they distribute classroom care duties without gender bias. Both boys and girls are responsible for cleaning and for leadership within the classroom. Likewise, seating isn’t separated by gender, which allows values and ideas to flow freely. These values are even integrated into lessons through discussion questions about human rights and the importance of education. Students now express that “all children have a right to complete their studies, no matter their gender.”

In this supportive environment, female students are becoming leaders in the classroom, receiving top grades, and placing first in district-wide reading competitions. The old way of thinking about a female’s worth is retreating into the shadows as each of these girls steps into the spotlight and demonstrates her skills, talents, and dedication. Young women in Bweramvura are dreaming big and, in the words of Primitiva, “they can make it happen.” As a P6 student spoke about her aspiration to become a doctor, a dream which came to light after her father fell ill and she saw him struggle with the holes in the healthcare system, Primitiva looked on with pride and spoke words of encouragement to the student.

Dreams like this are why Wellspring works to help schools and communities recognize the importance of girls. We see value and potential in each of these young women. We see the doctors and engineers and teachers they will become when given the opportunity to receive a quality education and, with our training, schools and communities are starting to see this too.

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Striving for Excellence at Cyuga

Striving for Excellence At Cyuga Primary

**Names changed to protect identities**

At Wellspring, we seek to be a catalyst for change in education. This means providing schools and educators with the tools to permanently improve the quality of education available to their students. Peer learning—teachers learning from their colleagues and working together to improve their teaching skills—is one such tool. This allows for our School Development Program to grow and achieve sustainability, which means even more students can receive a quality values-based education. Wellspring promotes a uniquely in-depth version of peer learning by encouraging the transferal of skills not just from classroom-to-classroom, but from school-to-school as well.

A regional model of peer learning is important for school leadership, as it allows for model schools—schools that are achieving a high standard in education—to set an example for others in their district. Head teachers can pass along organizational and team building tips to other head teachers, and visiting other schools can inspire and motivate everyone involved. This is exactly what happened to Mary, the Head Teacher at Cyuga Primary.

Mary has experienced exceptional transformation since beginning her training with Wellspring. She has transformed from a head teacher who did not engage with lessons or provide feedback to her teachers, to a head teacher who puts the needs of her school, teachers, and students first. After attending our workshops, Mary now understands the necessity of helping her teachers consistently improve their teaching skills. Through support from our trainers, Mary has learned how to provide positive and constructive feedback during lesson observations. She now testifies that Wellspring has improved her confidence and equipped her to organize peer learning activities. But it was a peer learning visit to Bweramvura Primary, a model school, that sparked a new vision in Mary. Bweramvura Primary was recently named a model school by Wellspring due to its high achievements in quality education, attendance, and team unity. When Mary arrived at Bweramvura, she saw a level of excellence that she wanted for her own school. She sought guidance from the head teacher at Bweramvura, and returned to Cyuga with a renewed sense of passion for education. Mary is working with her teachers to achieve the same level of excellence as Bweramvura. When the teachers at Cyuga Primary organized a teaching aid fair, Mary made sure she was available to meet with all visitors and listened to their suggestions for school improvement. Mary is demonstrating exceptional commitment and leadership and is leading Cyuga Primary towards a bright future in providing quality education for all students.

At Wellspring, we have a vision of seeing all head teachers in Rwanda undergo the same transformation as Mary. We want to see every school striving for excellence as they seek to become a model school. This hunger for school improvement starts with the leaders, which is why we invest in leadership training with head teachers through our School Development Program. Will you partner with us as we strive for excellence in education alongside the head teachers of Rwanda?

Invest in Rwandan Leaders

2016: Year in Review

Looking back on the story of Wellspring in 2016, God’s presence is clear in every chapter. Our work in Rwanda is now impacting over 92,000 children and 1,700 teachers in 71 schools. This past year also saw the full launch of Rwanda’s Competence Based Curriculum, which Wellspring aided the government in designing. The new curriculum marks a shift in the Rwandan education system towards a learner-centric ideology. Furthermore, Gasabo district, where Wellspring’s School Development Program operates, has experienced great success in the implementation of this new curriculum. This success can be traced to the roots of our training, which prepares teachers with skills for promoting quality education.

In the summer of 2016, we experienced immense joy while celebrating Wellspring Academy’s first graduating class. These students walked with the Academy for their entire school career and grew up with a Christian-values-based quality education. As they enter the post-secondary and working world, we are inspired by their dedication, hard-working spirits, and passion for change.

Our Abundant Leadership Institute, which equips educational leaders with the tools to be catalysts for change in their school communities, experienced a tremendous year of growth. The second cohort of students, a group of leaders with high potential, began the program in September. ALI also signed a partnership agreement with Trinity Western University. This partnership will see all ALI graduates receive a “Certificate of Participation” from TWU.

As we move into 2017, Wellspring is excited to build on our innovative work through new opportunities and partnerships. Our work in the western province of Rwanda is expanding as we move the principles of our School Development Program into the Rubavu district. Our vision is to see the remarkable success in the Gasabo district spread to Rubavu and beyond, and to see thousands more children in this particularly vulnerable region empowered with hope and opportunity for their futures.

In North America, we are excited for upcoming opportunities for new and existing partners to engage with our work through events such as the Wellspring Vancouver Gala (May 11), our 4Stages event in Ontario (June 8), Rachel’s Ride for Rwanda (June 24), the Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda (September 16-17), and our Toronto Gala (October 13). Sign up for our newsletter, The Source, to stay up to date with the latest Wellspring news. 

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From a Village of Scarcity to a City of Abundance

Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI) focuses on providing high-quality leadership training for passionate leaders with a vision for sparking change in their school communities. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have a heart for Christ and a passion for transformation. Florence is one such individual.

Florence is a lecturer at the University of Rwanda in the College of Nursing. In 2015, she joined the flagship student cohort at Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute as she sought to develop her leadership skills. After participating in the ALI Foundations module, which teaches the guiding principles for abundant leadership, Florence felt called to apply and adapt this module for use in a village church. Using the principles of the Foundations module, she taught congregations of two Anglican churches about the importance of abundant (servant) leadership. She trained them in how to move from a mentality of scarcity, which focuses on what they are lacking, to one of abundance, which recognizes what they have to give. Florence used the principles she had learned in the foundations module in an innovative way that could be understood by villagers in all walks of life. She used the concept of the “Village of Scarcity” and compared it to a village of poverty, hatred, jealousy, division, and misery—a situation which resonated in the lives of many of the villagers. She then spoke of the “City of Abundance” and likened it to a place of peace, love, solidarity, and reconciliation—something that many of these villagers wish to achieve.

After this lesson, Florence gave an altar call. Fifty-eight people from the congregations came forward to dedicate their lives to Christ, as He can lead us on the bridge that takes us from the Village of Scarcity to the City of Abundance. Through Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute, Florence was equipped with the leadership skills to coordinate this event and the resources to convey this message in a way that was applicable to the villagers. Fifty-eight people have now given their lives to Christ with the help of Florence, her heart for people, and the Abundant Leadership Institute. We are so thankful for Florence and her innovation, as she used Wellspring’s techniques in a new and exciting manner, and we are grateful to have played a role in the salvation of these lives!

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New Mindset Impacts Entire School

As the 2016 academic year began, Ndera School faced a period of transition as they welcomed a new Head Teacher, Pascal. Previously, Pascal taught at Rugando School, which is also involved with our School Development Program. Despite our best efforts, our training team struggled to get through to him. He held the opinion that Wellspring’s work was a waste of time and introduced unnecessary stress into his life.

When Pascal began his leadership role at Ndera, he continued with this attitude. Our training team was blocked at every turn. Appointments were made and cancelled at the last minute and a negative environment developed in the school. Much of Wellspring’s hard work at Ndera was being undone by an uncooperative leader.

But all this changed when the Pascal was invited to attend a Wellspring training day to learn more about Rwanda’s new Competence-Based-Curriculum (CBC). The workshop focused on the role of peer learning in schools to strengthen the implementation of CBC. Pascal participated eagerly in lesson observations and engaged in discussions. He left the workshop with a transformed mindset about Wellspring’s techniques and a brand new vision for the future of Ndera School.

This new mindset was so transformative that Pascal even took it upon himself to organize a school-wide training day. After the event, Pascal gave a testimony about his transformation in the presence of 48 teachers and Wellspring trainers. He spoke of the change in his heart and mind about Wellspring’s techniques. Before attending the workshop, he didn’t understand the difference Wellspring can make in a school and in the lives of teachers and students. Now, he sees this impact and understands the importance of Wellspring’s training in the implementation of the new curriculum. He even said that Wellspring trainers are welcome at the school any time, a direct contrast to his earlier attitude.

Because of our continued effort, Pascal eventually saw the benefits of Wellspring’s approach. Because we continued this pursuit instead of giving up when times were tough, an entire school is now being empowered thanks to this Head Teacher’s vision.

Will you partner with us as we invest in the lives of leaders like Pascal, equipping them to be agents of lasting change in their schools and beyond?

Invest in the life of a leader

Care Beyond the Classroom

At Wellspring, we seek to empower the next generation. Our aim is to transform the lives of students by equipping them with a quality education. As they move towards their futures, this foundation can make all the difference in reaching their full potential. Transformation occurs when all stakeholders realize the value and potential of each child and band together to ensure their success. This is why our School Development Program focuses heavily on teachers – essential stakeholders in a child’s education.

When we train teachers in providing a quality education, thousands of students reap the benefits. Each time a teacher takes to our training, the students that arrive in their classrooms not only this year, but for years to come, will receive an education centered around their needs and founded on Christian values. Through our program, teachers learn how to treat their students with love, dignity, and respect. They come to care for their students – and this care even extends beyond the classroom.

At one of our Gasabo Schools, a teacher recently noticed a student shifting in her seat during the middle of a lesson. The student couldn’t focus on the teachings. Her shoulders dipped forward and her head hung low over her notebook, but she wasn’t able to lift her hand to write. She was clearly in an extreme amount of pain. When the lesson finished, the teacher approached the student at her desk to ask what was wrong. The student confided in the teacher, explaining that her mother had beaten her back so badly that she could barely sit up. She said that this wasn’t a one-off, but something that her mother did frequently. The student expressed a desire to run away, leaving her education and family behind, so that she could escape her mother’s brutal beatings.

But this teacher didn’t want her student, a girl of incredible value and potential, to sacrifice her education and future.

The teacher brought her student’s story before the school leaders and asked for their support. The mother was called into the school to discuss the situation. When she arrived, the Head Teacher counselled her and helped her to understand the problematic nature of her actions. The mother asked her daughter for forgiveness, changed her ways, and now they have a good relationship.

Because this teacher was trained with our program, her student can continue her education and be empowered with new skills that will serve her in the future. This student may have dropped out of school and never have completed her education without the intervention of her teacher. This is just one case. Wellspring’s training currently impacts over 1,600 teachers, who in turn impact over 91,000 students.

When you partner with Wellspring, you are not only investing in life change today, but in lasting transformation that will have ripple effects for years to come. Will you join us as we work together to empower the next generation in Rwanda and beyond?

Empower a New Generation

ABCD: School Future in Parents’ Hands


Musave School is located in a rural part of Rwanda’s Gasabo district. The surrounding community is riddled with poverty, yet the parents are working with the little they have to ensure that Musave School can provide the best possible education for their children. This motivation is a direct result of Wellspring’s empowering Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) training. ABCD involves counselling communities to recognize their own assets and skills in problem solving. With this program, communities like the one surrounding Musave School can ensure the sustainability of quality education by using their own strengths to support their school.

Parents have begun a number of initiatives to support Musave School. Part of the school grounds that previously sat empty now houses a banana plantation. The parents take great pride in this project, tending the field and harvesting the fruit themselves. Parents also started a vegetable garden and raised the money for a dairy cow. All of these initiatives are improving the environment of the school by providing ingredients for the school feeding program, ensuring that students have a balanced diet and can focus on their lessons without the distracting presence of hunger pangs.

musave-bananas
musave-cow

Because of our ABCD training, parents also realize the positive impact of their own involvement in their child’s education. They visit the school to meet with teachers, and parents now provide time and help at home for their children to complete school work. When this approach is combined with our teacher training, students are supported from all sides, which guides them towards success. In the most recent school year, 100% of students at Musave School passed their exams. Many of the students received the highest possible level of merit and gained admission to some of the best secondary schools in the district.

But the parents have a dream of seeing this positive transformation spread beyond the school boundaries. They have a vision to bring this lasting change to their entire community. They’re beginning on this journey with a new initiative. Parents contributed the money to buy a pig for the school, who has recently given birth to piglets. The leader of the Parent Committee shared with us his vision for the school piggery:

“Our hope is to give a pig to each of the poorest families in the community. We want to help develop the community by providing assets for those who are poor. Wellspring’s training empowered us to take the future of our community into our own hands.

The sense of pride and ownership that the parents have in the piggery is clear. With the little they have, the parents are utilizing the techniques taught by Wellspring to begin the process of solving the issue of poverty in their community by themselves.

At Wellspring, we wish to create lasting change and self-sustainability, which means holistically transforming and empowering school communities. The parents at Musave School are actively participating in this transformation. We look forward to the future as we continue to partner with them and provide the necessary support as they continue on this journey towards self-sustainability.


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Claudine lacked passion for teaching

At Wellspring, we seek to make a lasting and sustainable impact on students, teachers, schools, and communities. We believe permanent transformation can occur even in the hardest of hearts when shown a little love and support, and change in one life can lead to hope and opportunity for many more. This is exactly what happened with Claudine, a teacher at Munini Primary.

When we first began our training, Claudine lacked passion for teaching. She was often absent from work, didn’t care for her students, and used physical punishment. Little was taught or learned in her classroom. Despite the enthusiasm of other teachers, Claudine actively fought against our program.

But Wellspring’s trainers didn’t give up.

Claudine clearly had potential—but something was holding her back. Our team approached Claudine about her attitude and, to our surprise, she opened up. She divulged that her husband would regularly beat her, which affected her mood and behaviour at school. Our trainers prayed with Claudine and offered to support her through this difficult journey. This moment marked a turning point in her life and in the lives of her students. Claudine decided to commit herself to God, and promised to make an effort to change with the support of Wellspring’s trainers.

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Many months later, Claudine is one of the best teachers at Munini Primary. She loves her students and shows great passion when teaching. Recently, leaders from the District Education Office visited the school to observe lessons.

They identified Claudine as the best teacher at the school, citing her commitment and care for students as superb. She also received the Umwalimu w’indashyikirwa award recognizing her as one of the most excellent teachers in the district!

Because Wellspring did not give up on Claudine, her life has undergone lasting change. She is now providing the children she serves with the kind of quality education that will change their lives too.

Transformation is being experienced in schools and communities across Rwanda, and is being made possible through your partnership!

Claudine is one of 1,700+ teachers benefiting from our School Development Program, which now impacts 90,000+ students in 71 Rwandan schools. Lasting change is also taking place beyond school walls as we empower exceptional leaders to deepen their impact, equip communities to develop innovative solutions, and partner with government to see systemic change.

Will you partner with us as we work to see lives transformed, in Rwanda and beyond? Together, we can be part of changing the future for tens of thousands of children in Africa.

Change the future of Rwandan children

Teaching Aids Key to Quality Education

Active participation is a key part of education. When students actively participate in their learning instead of just observing passively, they grasp concepts with greater clarity. That’s why Wellspring trains teachers to build teaching aids—materials that illustrate learning concepts and encourage students to engage with the lesson. With our methods, teachers help students to enjoy their lessons and get so much more out of their education.

Wellspring shows teachers how to make teaching aids with local material, which ensures that these methods can be used anywhere. Instead of relying on shipments of materials from North America, schools can be sustainable by using items from their environment. Maps can be drawn on rice sacks, size comparison balls can be made from banana leaves, and shapes can be cut from locally-made fabric. We encourage teachers to come up with their own ideas for teaching aids with one simple question: “what makes teaching aids effective?”. Not only does this encourage creativity, but when teachers consider this question, they produce their own unique teaching aids that are aimed specifically towards their students and lessons.

Recently, Bweramvura Primary, a model school in the Gasabo district, held a teaching aid fair. Members from education non-profits came to see teaching aids that were constructed using our training. Science teachers proudly showed off electric circuits that students could connect to illuminate a light bulb. English teachers demonstrated the use of different word puzzles for students to comprehend language. Math teachers showcased cut-out shapes for students to understand geometry. Every subject was represented with a variety of unique teaching aids. Teachers were proud to show off their creations, demonstrating to visitors how they use these materials to make learning fun in their classrooms.

Teaching aids also encourage teachers and students alike to think about the practical applications for their lessons. A pulley in science class teaches students about weight and force, but once this information has been understood, it can be applied to the student’s life outside of the classroom. Students have even come into school and told their teachers that they made pulleys to help them with daily chores at home!

Teaching aids are just one method that we use to encourage teachers to invest more in their lessons. With our training, teachers learn how to care for their students and provide quality education in their classrooms. But this training can only exist with your support. People like you are helping us bring lasting change to Rwanda by investing in the lives of teachers and students. We’d like to invite you to become a School Partner as together we pursue the implementation of quality education across Rwanda.

Become a School Partner

Kibara Students Benefitting from Transformative Teaching

Kibara Primary School lies over an hour down a dusty and bumpy road, yet its rural location doesn’t affect the school’s quality. The grounds are decorated with vision gardens and the walls are adorned with educational murals. The students are well behaved and friendly, waving to visitors as they organize themselves in neat lines to enter their classrooms. The impact of Wellspring’s School Development Program is evident everywhere you look. The educational murals were painted by a teacher trained in the importance of visual teaching aids by our team, and our trainers showed the school the benefits of positive behavioural management.

But Wellspring’s impact is reaching far past just the appearance of the school and is creating lasting transformation within the classrooms and lives of students.

A new teacher, who recently transferred here, identified what sets Kibara apart from her old school: Wellspring’s training. Our training team ensures that teachers know how to apply the subject of their lesson to the real world, which provides students with the resources to extend their education beyond the classroom. This skillset is particularly important given Rwanda’s new Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC), which is partially based on real-world applications of lessons and on turning students into competent citizens (click here to learn more about Rwanda’s new curriculum).

“At Kibara, teachers know how to integrate cross-cutting issues and values into their lessons. Their teaching results in competency and values being instilled into the students. At my old school, teachers were still learning how to teach the values of CBC, but here it is being implemented successfully thanks to Wellspring.”

The students at Kibara are experiencing the benefits of this transformative teaching style. When asked about his favourite subject in school, Grade Six student Jean Paul answered that he enjoys science class because of its application to the real world.

Jean Paul, student at Kibara Primary School.
Jean Paul

“Science is my favourite subject because it is practical. My teachers help me to understand how my body operates and the importance of hygiene and health in daily life.”

Thanks to Wellspring’s training, Jean Paul’s teachers have taught him how to apply his education to real world situations and are preparing him for his future. During our conversation, Jean Paul shared with us his dream of becoming the President of Rwanda.

“This school has provided me with a good environment and is giving me the skills and knowledge to pursue this dream. When I look at my teachers and when I look at the leadership, I see good role models who will support me on this journey.”

The teachers at Kibara Primary are creating lasting impact in the lives of students. Wellspring is honoured to play a role in this transformation, and we’d like to invite you to be part of this journey too. Click below to learn more about our School Partner program and how you can partner alongside students like Jean Paul.

Learn about our School Partner Program

Peer Learning: A teacher at Gatsata Primary taught a wonderful lesson after learning Wellspring's techniques by observing other teachers.

The Transformative Nature of Peer Learning

A teacher draws a chart on the chalkboard, writing different units of measurement along the top. There’s a flurry of movement as students open their notebooks, grip their pens, and get to work copying down the chart. Each student collaborates with their neighbor to complete the questions, discussing the conversion between milliliters, centiliters, and liters in hushed tones. When they finish, they eagerly raise their hands for the teacher to check over their work. She does so with a smile and a tick of her red pen on their workbooks, praising those with the right answer and encouraging those who have yet to master the math problem.

This was the scene during an early morning visit by our training team to Gatsata II Primary School. We sat in on a mathematics lesson in order to provide feedback for the teacher on her lesson plan and teaching style. As we sat there, it became evident that this teacher truly cared for her students. She encouraged each one and helped those who needed it. She knew them all by name and called for them to actively participate in their learning. She even applied the concepts of the lesson to real life situations so the students could understand why it was essential for them to learn these skills. Needless to say, our training team was impressed, especially given this teacher’s early resistance to our program.

And the best part?

This teacher wasn’t even directly trained by Wellspring. She learned the techniques through peer learning with a “multiplier” at her school.

Our School Development Program relies on people we call “multipliers”, who are teachers that we train directly. We invite these “multipliers” to attend training days and give them principles that guide them in teaching a values-based quality education to their students. They learn how to effectively use teaching aids, how to encourage active participation in their lessons, and how to organize their class with positive behavioral management, along with many other principles. We then support these teachers by conducting follow-up visits to their schools, encouraging peer learning by providing opportunities for other teachers to sit in on their classes, and teaching model lessons at the schools. We encourage the “multipliers” to pass their skills along to other teachers at their school through peer learning so that true transformation can take place.

We want our program to be sustainable, to be able to expand past the limitations of our organization, and to have impact beyond our direct training. Wellspring is achieving this by making peer learning a core component of our School Development Program. Thanks to this system, the students at Gatsata II Primary have teachers who understand the importance of a quality education and are actively working on delivering it in their classrooms.

We want you to be part of this system too, for you to have the chance to play a role in the pursuit of quality education across Rwanda. Consider becoming a School Partner and joining with a school just like Gatsata II Primary on this journey to empower the next generation of leaders in Rwanda.

Become a School Partner

Expansion into Rwanda’s Western Province

Rwanda’s Western Province is where the nickname ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ truly comes to life. Running along the shores of Lake Kivu and the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rolling green hills covered in tea plantations, farms, and villages stretch as far as the eye can see. Most local schools lie hours away from the nearest city, only reachable by dangerous roads. It is here, in this hilly and rural region, that Wellspring is expanding our School Development Program.

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Last year, Wellspring and the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR) began working together in AEBR-led schools in Western Province. We took the basic principles of our School Development Program from the Gasabo District and applied them here. Leadership training modules ran throughout the year to provide school leaders with the skills necessary to promote quality education and to implement Rwanda’s new Competence-Based-Curriculum. These modules followed themes such as Servant Leadership, Worldview and Values, and Positive Behavioural Management. For the seeds of training to take root, our team also conducted follow-up visits to the fifteen schools and provided support to teachers and leaders. So far we have seen great success with this strategy. Leaders are confronting their past shortcomings, schools are moving away from physical punishment, and teachers are encouraging active participation by the students.

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However, a quick visit to E.P. Nyagahinika, a rural school located hours down a dusty and bumpy road in the Rutsiro district, reveals that while officials, school leaders, and teachers are eager to implement the learned techniques, there is still room for growth. Locally made teaching aids line the walls of classrooms here, demonstrating that our training has certainly planted seeds within the school leaders, but more training is necessary in order to grow the school’s capacity for quality education. This is why we’re thrilled that our program will be continuing during the upcoming year—so that we can provide the necessary support to transform these schools completely. Our vision is to see the remarkable impact experienced in the Gasabo district expanded across the districts of the western province.

But the work won’t stop there. Our goal is to support the implementation of quality education in these fifteen schools in the western province, but we want to take it one step further. We want to build the internal capacity for these leaders to go forth and influence all AEBR-led schools in Rwanda. To do this, we need your help.

Help us continue our innovative work

Kristie Voth

Meet Kristie Voth, Wellspring’s Public Engagement Coordinator. She’s been part of the team since April 2016 and we couldn’t be happier!

Kristie hails from the thriving metropolis of Crystal City, a small farming community in Manitoba of about 400 people. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Ministry at Prairie Bible College, she felt the call of the west and has since lived on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan Valley. She now calls Langley home and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Education Degree at Trinity Western University. When she’s not busy planning events for Wellspring, Kristie enjoys hiking and sewing.

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Competence-Based-Curriculum

New National Teaching Curriculum Creates Buzz

There’s a buzz in the education community in Rwanda. Teachers and students alike are excited and enthusiastic about the positive changes stemming from the new national teaching curriculum. Competence-Based-Curriculum (commonly referred to as CBC) was first introduced in 2015 and is arriving in Rwandan classrooms on a rolling basis. A key feature of CBC is its learner-centric nature. Teachers are now encouraging students to fulfill their potential and develop new skills through active participation in lessons. CBC also promotes values-based education in order to create a strong learning environment.

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because Wellspring has been working with our own version of CBC for years! Our School Development Program (SDP) emphasizes the importance of learner-centric methods and values integration into teaching. The encouragement of students to actively participate in lessons has been a key foundation of our program. We promote these values by training a select group of teachers, who become “teacher-multipliers”. These multipliers then pass their new skills along to their colleagues through peer-learning, which ensures the sustainability of the program. The national implementation of CBC means that our School Development Program is more important and relevant than ever as we seek to equip teachers with the skills they need to succeed.

Grade 6 student David (All rights reserved)
Grade 6 student David

The positive effects of the new curriculum are already showing. David, a Grade Six student at GS Musave, shared with us about the positive social changes at school thanks to newfound encouragement by teachers.

There was a time when some students would view their colleagues as adversaries. We were all self-centered and we did not care about slow learners. But our teachers now encourage us to work together and support one another, especially slow learners, in groups. This has made our school friendlier. Our teachers also encourage us to apply what we learn in the community and to display an exemplary behaviour and attitude at home and in the community. I am excited about the future and the opportunity of using what I learn to serve my community and my country.”

Teacher Immaculate
Teacher Immaculate

Immaculate, a teacher at GS Musave, shared with us about how the new curriculum has shifted her perspective on teaching. Wellspring’s work has helped her to realize that teaching is a partnership between students and teachers.

“Wellspring’s approach has been a great relief to our teachers. Before we began training with Wellspring, teaching felt like a burden. We thought that we had to be at the center of the lesson. We thought that children had nothing to do with their learning except receiving the content delivered to them. Completing the curriculum was our only concern. Now, we realize that involving a child in the learning process by using teaching aids is the proper way of impacting the student. Furthermore, it brings a feeling of relief since teaching and learning are done as a team. It’s not about the teacher anymore. It’s about the teacher and the students working together.”

Here at Wellspring, we’re enthusiastic about the impact Competence-Based-Curriculum is already having, and we can’t wait to see the continued positive changes it will bring to education in Rwanda!

Help us continue our innovative work