Category Archives: Stories

Physical punishment is still a very real issue.

Physical Punishment: A Very Real Issue

In the midst of the rolling hills of Rubavu District, between the shores of glistening Lake Kivu and the forest slopes of Volcanoes National Park, lie 75 primary schools. Each of these schools has a unique story, but they are all bound together by one thing: their use of traditional teaching methods—specifically physical punishment as a tool of behaviour management.

Physical punishment is still a very real issue in this area of Rwanda and it has been for some time. Our trainers who grew up in the Western Province vividly recall stories from their childhood where their teachers would slap them for simply answering a math question wrong. They remember how this pain bred distrust and all the times their friends dropped out of school because they would rather spend their days helping their families earn a meagre sum of money than being beaten with a stick in the classroom. This is why our trainers have such a heart for this region that they are willing to traverse flooding rivers and hike steep slopes just to reach the schools we work in—because they don’t want these kids to suffer as they did, because they know it can be different.

And they know this because they’ve already been part of making it happen in Gasabo District.

Eleven years ago, Gasabo was just as reliant upon physical punishment as a tool of behavioural management as Rubavu is today. The teachers themselves grew up being beaten by their teachers and didn’t know any other way to control their classrooms. Today, this is entirely different. Our Wellspring trainers have introduced the teachers to positive behavioural management, and the transformation in the classroom has been astounding.

In a recent English lesson at Sha Primary, we were privileged to witness this in action. As soon as we stepped into the classroom, it was abundantly clear just how much positive behavioural management has transformed the lives of these students. Instead of a classroom filled with distrust and fear, the kids arrived with smiles on their faces and eager to learn. Instead of beginning the lesson by being yelled at and threatened with the stick in order to behave, the students were greeted by name by the teacher. Together, they wrote the classroom rules on the chalkboard. The teacher then drew a smiley face, and told them that each time they behaved well and participated in their learning, he would put a star under the smiley face. After they received five stars, the teacher would reward them with a song. The students immediately perked up with excitement, eagerly participating throughout the lesson in order to earn their stars. For every right answer, the students were rewarded with ‘flowers’—a Wellspring-taught technique that sees the teacher and other students praise the speaker with a flower-type hand gesture. There was no punishment for a wrong answer, just encouragement to try again. And when the students earned their five stars, the students and the teacher cheered together before launching into song. The love and respect in the classroom was overflowed as they sang together. There was no misbehaving, no acting out, and no talking out of turn throughout the whole lesson. The kids were attentive. They showed the teacher love and respect, because he showed them love and respect first.

We know this can happen in Rubavu too. Every child, no matter where they are in Rwanda or in the world, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Using positive behavioural management techniques in the classroom is the first step in providing a quality education that will empower these students to fulfil their God-given potential. With your help, we’ve seen this transformation happen in Gasbao. Will you partner with us to see this change spread to Rubavu too?

Help Us Transform Heartache Into Hope

By providing Quality Education for Rwandan children

The first $100,000 given by December 31st, 2017 will be matched 1:1 by generous donors.

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Help Us Transform Heartache Into Hope

Help Us Transform Heartache Into Hope

A SHORT WHILE AGO, I visited a school in Rubavu, one of the poorest regions of Rwanda, and my heart ached.

Why?

Because I found eight hundred students in six ramshackle classrooms. They had no books, no electricity, and were huddled so tightly around the room’s few desks that they were almost sitting on each other’s laps. Teachers beat the children with sticks and lessons were rudimentary at best. By no definition was this a quality education.

As I walked through the classrooms, stunned at the sights before me, I saw fewer and fewer girls. Our Rwandan trainers explained that families traditionally prioritize the son’s education over the daughter’s. Many girls are pulled from school to care for younger siblings while parents try to make enough money for that night’s simple dinner. Without an education, these girls are left without hope for their future. Teenage pregnancy rates are astronomical and families are disowning their daughters, leaving the girls homeless and at high risk for sexual exploitation and trafficking. Without a family or any means of income, many of the girls turn to prostitution in a district that has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the country.

Yet in the midst of this, I still saw hope.

In a classroom riddled with holes in the ceiling and floor, I saw a ray of light coming through the crack in the shutters. The sunbeam fell on the face of one little girl. To me, she represented everything I was seeing: the pain, the struggle—and the hope. In that moment, I sensed Jesus had been in that room all along, and He was inviting us to join Him.

Why?

Because He loves these kids and wants to see them afforded the same dignity and worth as every child across the world. Every one of those girls on the edge of dropping out, dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, and at danger of being disowned is adored by Him. Every one of those children being beaten is loved.  Every. Single. One.

And that’s why, for the next five years, Wellspring is committed to transforming the seventy-five primary schools in Rubavu. We want to see these schools flourish and reach for the same exceptional standard we have seen in the forty-nine schools in our current program near the capital of Kigali.

I want to ask, will you stand alongside usalongside these children? Your gift will help us to change these schools into vibrant communities of learning that teach dignity, worth, and value to all—especially the girls. Together, we can change not only the lives of tens of thousands of children, but through them, the very future of their nations. Together, we can transform heartache into hope. And that is a beautiful thing.

With appreciation,

Andy Harrington, CEO


Help Us Transform Heartache Into Hope

By providing Quality Education for Rwandan children

The first $100,000 given by December 31st, 2017 will be matched 1:1 by generous donors.

2017 YE

 

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Rise to Shine

Humble Start at Rise to Shine School

A few years ago, a story of transformation began in the humblest of place—underneath a tall tree, sitting upon dry grass in a tiny village. It was here, in the dappled sunlight streaming between leaves, that Rise to Shine school held its first classes.

Upon returning to Rwanda from Burundi, her birth country, Beatrice Bamurange felt a calling from God. She travelled to the remote village of Rusheshe and found a community of people who were discouraged, but still willing to work hard to see a better future for their children. The kids had no access to quality education and most of them came from broken homes with parents who didn’t complete their own schooling, and thus didn’t understand the value of education for their children.

When she recalled this time in the community, Beatrice said, “I wanted to stand…for these children, but I didn’t know where to start and whom to speak to about this vision.”

Even though she felt unsure and unprepared, Beatrice knew that the call on her heart was from God. She needed to do something to give hope to the children of the village.

And so Rise to Shine school was born.

Beatrice began Rise to Shine under a tree in the village, offering classes to anyone who wanted to attend. As word spread, more and more children began to join them. In 2011, Beatrice and another teacher moved the school into a small house, hoping to accommodate all of their new students. Still the demand for the school quickly outgrew the small two room house and they had to split into two shifts. Nursey children came in the morning and Primary in the afternoon.

Young Students at Rise to Shine School

As they continued to grow in size, the community saw the value of Beatrice’s teachings. The future of hope they had dreamed of for their children was beginning to be realized. Eager to seize this opportunity for their children, the parents banded together. Working with Beatrice, the community raised the funds to purchase land for the school and build new classroom blocks. In 2014, Rise to Shine took ownership of their new home.

But finally having their own space to grow brought new challenges for the school. Beatrice felt she needed support and training in order to properly lead the school in its phase of growth. In 2015, a friend introduced Beatrice to Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI). Here, she found an answer to a prayer.

“I found a learning environment that was safe and felt connected with everyone, despite our different experiences and cultures. [ALI] encouraged me and introduced the ‘Lead Like Jesus’ model, which has helped shape my life and also the lives of those I work alongside. We have adopted and modelled this concept in our school and the community.”

Beatrice began using the principles she learned through ALI, such as self-leadership and modelling Jesus as an example in her daily life as a leader. Working with the community and teachers, she crafted a vision and values for the school. These are now displayed prominently throughout the school and village, reminding everyone to be intentional about their actions.

Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute empowered Beatrice to lead her school as a servant leader. She has the skills to serve and lead others like Jesus. Using techniques learned through ALI, Beatrice has built trust and togetherness between staff and leadership in the school, as well as between the school and the wider community. Teachers and community leaders have even begun to adopt the ‘Lead Like Jesus’ model through Beatrice’s teachings and examples. Love and togetherness is promoted throughout the community. The village is now unrecognizable from the discouraged group of people that Beatrice came across when she first arrived.

Values Signs at Rise to Shine

And through it all, the children have benefited. They are reaping the rewards of having a servant leader at the helm of the school. Not only are they seeing a model example of the type of leaders they should become, but they are also benefiting from having teachers who truly care for them and community who want to see them succeed. This year, eleven students are sitting Rise to Shine’s first national exams. They have the whole school and community rooting for them.

Beatrice has since graduated from our Abundant Leadership Institute. With her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, Beatrice finished near the top of our pioneer class. The tiny school that began between the roots of a tree has bloomed into something truly brilliant, and is empowering the children from the village for a future that will see them fulfill their God-given potential.

Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute works with leaders in education who have a heart for transforming their communities. We empower them with the skills to spread their vision to others and to lead by example. You can be a part of their journey too! By partnering with Wellspring, you can help us empower passionate leaders like Beatrice to become models for servant leadership in Rwanda. Will you join with us today?

Help Empower Leaders

Students in class at Kacyiru I Primary.

Kanyamibwa is a Transformed Teacher

One of the joys of our work is seeing transformation happen in all lives—from parents to leaders, teachers to students, and even lives beyond those of whom we directly work. When one person experiences transformation in the way they act and see the world, their new attitude has ripple effects on everyone they encounter. They spread their light to others.

And that’s exactly what happened—and is still happening—with Teacher Kanyamibwa at Kacyiru I Primary.

When Wellspring first began working with Kacyiru I Primary, our trainers were unwelcome in the school. Teachers regularly demonstrated how little they cared for their students. They didn’t lesson plan, used physical punishment in their classrooms, and sometimes wouldn’t even show up to teach. They were unwilling to change their ways, which made them hostile to our trainers. Teacher Kanyamibwa was no different. When Wellspring staff arrived to offer training and support, Kanyamibwa sought them out to discourage them from returning. He did not want to put any effort into his work.

But our trainers were not discouraged.

Whenever Kanyamibwa tried to drive them out of the school, they took the opportunity to share how values-based techniques, such as positive behavioural management, can drastically improve a classroom. They planted the seed of transformation in his mind. Little by little, these interactions became the time for Kanyamibwa to learn and change his teaching practices. Each of these interactions watered the seed a little more.

Last year, during a Wellspring workshop, a group of teachers began questioning the merit of a quality education. They wanted to know why they should pour more effort into their work and why the kids of today deserve a better education than the one the teachers themselves received in their childhood. Instead of egging the teachers on, Kanyamibwa immediately supported our trainers. They explained that the role of teachers is to educate the next generation, to equip the students for future success. Kanyamibwa’s support not only of the trainers, but of these ideas, came in stark contrast to his earlier actions.

Kanyamibwa is a transformed teacher.

With help from our Wellspring trainers, Kanyamibwa learned how to provide his students with a quality education. Today, locally made teaching aids line the wall of his classroom. His students work together in groups to grasp lesson concepts with deeper clarity. Kanyambiwa even establishes classroom rules at the start of each lesson to manage the students with positive behavioural techniques instead of physical punishment. Kanyamibwa has expressed his gratitude to Wellspring for helping him become a teacher who cares for students and he is demonstrating great commitment to empowering the future generation with a quality education.

But that’s not all.

Other teachers at the school saw that Kanyamibwa, the teacher who had been the most hostile towards Wellspring, had wholeheartedly embraced our techniques. They saw his joy in teaching and how much his students now loved their lessons and their teacher. They realized they could experience this transformation too and could have a lasting impact educating the next generation. Now, many more teachers are embracing Wellspring’s techniques. Kanyambiwa, in expressing that Wellspring helped him become a teacher who cares for students and empowers the future generation with a quality education, has brought transformation to the other teachers at the school as well.

Kanyamibwa’s story illustrates that persistence is more important than force. Sustainable change does not happen overnight. Instead, it is the product of continued effort. This is why Wellspring is committed to continuing to support schools until they can sustainably provide quality education to all of their students. But we can’t do this alone. Your partnership is key as we seek to work with schools in Rwanda. Will you partner with us on this journey and be part of Rwanda’s education story?

Help transform teachers

2017 Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda

Why We Ride

81 riders • 220 kilometers  • $101,000 (and counting) raised

This past weekend eighty-one cyclists came together to ride for quality education in Rwanda. They pedalled nearly 18,000 kilometers in total, which is more than the distance from Vancouver to Kigali! The route ran through British Columbia’s beautiful North Okanagan. We started by Kalamalka Lake, rode to Shuswap Lake for an overnight stay, and did it all again the next day!

Many of our riders not only biked 220 km, they also fundraised to support Wellspring’s work in Rwanda—donations can made until October 15 . While the ride was tough, every push of the pedal was for a good cause. It’s easy for us to cite stats, but the truth is that behind each number is an individual. A leader who is learning how to push their school towards success. A teacher who is receiving the training to equip the students in their classroom. A child who finally has access to an education that matches their God-given potential and gives them the future opportunities they deserve.

And that’s why we ride.

We may have only just passed the finish line on this year’s Lake2Lake ride, but we’re already thinking about next year and we hope you join us!  Sign up for our email updates to make sure you stay up to date with news about next year’s ride.

Learn about the difference quality education is making in Rwanda, and how you can be involved. Sign up for The Source:

Teaching Real-World Values at Akimitoni School

Teaching Real-World Values at Akimitoni School

In a small classroom, with barely enough desks to fit all of the students and no light except for the few sunbeams that make it through the small windows, a wonderful lesson is being taught. Florence, a Grade Three teacher at Akimitoni School in the rural Nyabihu district, has made a commitment to providing her students with the best education possible despite such a lack of resources

And she’s succeeding

In 2015, Wellspring entered into a partnership with the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR) to launch the Christian Foundations in Education (CFE) program. This two year program saw Wellspring provide quality education training in fifteen AEBR schools (with leadership training in an additional seven) across three western school districts. Akimitoni is one such school, and Florence is one of the teachers who was selected to receive high-level training from Wellspring and equipped to pass her newly acquired quality education techniques along to her colleagues. Florence took her training to heart and applied these new skills with an eager spark.

As part of the final stage of our CFE program, Wellspring conducted surprise visits to schools to see if teachers were utilizing these quality education techniques every day, not just when they knew they would be observed. When our trainers arrived at Akimitoni School the day before the program ended, Florence was not expecting them.

But that didn’t matter because Florence has consistently been using Wellspring’s techniques to the fullest extent.

Florence, a Grade Three teacher at Akimitoni School in the rural Nyabihu district.

We were welcomed into her classroom with open arms and greeted by the smiling faces of students, beaming at their teacher and eager to begin their lesson. Immediately, our trainers knew that Florence had used her new skills to create a home of trust and learning in her classroom. As the lesson progressed, Florence seamlessly integrated all of her skills to create an engaging and informative lesson. Most importantly though, she infused real world values into each child’s learning. The integration of values and crosscutting issues is new in classrooms across Rwanda, stemming from the recently adopted Competence-Based Curriculum. This initiative focuses on creating competent citizens and helping students learn how to apply the concepts they learn in school to their lives.

Florence has mastered this.

In her math lesson about currency, Florence taught the students how to identify the difference between 2000RWF and 5000RWF notes. As a group activity, they studied the two bills and wrote lists of what they could buy with each at the local market. Another teacher may have finished the lesson here, having already achieved the learning outcomes, but Florence wants her students to be equipped for success in their lives. And so she continued the lesson by teaching them the value of money. Her Grade Three students learned about the importance of budgeting and saving, as well as the necessity of respecting the bills by keeping them clean and not writing on them. The kids followed along eagerly, excited about a lesson that provided them with real skills and knowledge they can use outside of the walls of their classroom.

All of this is because Florence used her skills learned from Wellspring and applied them to her lesson. She cultivated a classroom of respect where her students trust her to speak into their lives. We are so happy to see the wonderful teacher that Florence has become and we know that she will continue in her growth as she spreads these skills to other teachers.

Though our CFE program has recently wrapped up, Wellspring has been encouraged by the success seen in these Western Province schools and we are excited for our next step in this region. We learned a lot through this program and are now preparing to launch our entire School Development Program in all 86 primary schools in the northwestern district of Rubavu. To learn more about this expansion, check out our recent gala videos. But for this new project to be successful, we need your help and partnership. Will you join with us on Wellspring’s most ambitious journey yet as we seek to bring quality education to 91,500+ new students and 86 new schools?

Help provide quality education

Adrian Bizimana—a student in our second ALI class who leads Gikonko School in Huye, a southern region in Rwanda.

Empowering Others With A Biblical Perspective

Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI) exists to partner with passionate leaders in the education sector, all of whom have a vision for transformation in their school communities. Through workshops and mentorship opportunities, we come alongside these leaders and empower them with the necessary skills to lead their schools towards a bright future. We work with leaders like Adrian Bizimana—a student in our second ALI class who leads Gikonko School in Huye, a southern region in Rwanda.

Even though Gikonko was one of the top performing Protestant schools in Rwanda, Adrian found the school in a corrupt state, Teachers were divided and struggled to work together as a team, which echoed down to the students as well, causing low morale throughout the school.

During a recent field visit, Adrian shared with us how demoralized he felt upon uncovering these problems, and how he knew that he needed to increase his leadership skills to address these issues properly:

“Before joining the second cohort of the Abundant Leadership Institute, my school was in a devastating place in terms of its leadership. Teachers were divided and students were rebellious … I felt a need to seek assistance. That’s when I heard of ALI training.”

After participating in ALI’s Biblical Worldview module, which teaches leaders how to integrate biblical values into their school classrooms in order to instill wisdom in the next generation, Adrian felt that his prayers had been answered. The lessons and values taught in this ALI module helped him craft the solutions to the problems facing the school. Adrian taught his team of educators about infusing lessons with biblical values and emulating Jesus as their role model. This helped teachers come together as a team of educators instead of divided individuals. He also humbled himself and acted as a servant leader by creating room in his busy schedule for interacting directly with the students—something that is rare for Head Teachers. Adrian adapted the Biblical Worldview module to fit the needs and issues facing the students in his school and crafted a two-day workshop for them. Together, they discussed biblical worldviews on topics such as love, sex, and family, as well as many others. As a result of spending time directly with the students and discussing values with them, the students are now quelling their rebellious acts and are respecting their school.

Through Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute, Adrian is being shaped with leadership skills that empower him to serve with love and humility. By acting as a servant leader and understanding that his success as a leader comes from the success of those he leads, Adrian has cultivated a community of trust and spiritual support at the school, as well as a newfound sense of enthusiasm for learning amongst students and teachers. Adrian is leading Gikonko School towards a bright future, which is also encouraging the teachers and students to their own paths towards success.

Adrian’s story is just one of the many tales of transformation that come from our Abundant Leadership Institute. Each one of our students is sparking change in their school communities and in the lives of teachers, parents, and students. Engaged, servant leadership is essential for a quality education, which is why Wellspring is committed to continue partnering with emerging leaders in the education sector to see the transformation at Gikonko School spread across Rwanda and beyond. We want to invite you along on this journey as well.

Will you partner with leaders like Adrian and the rest of our Abundant Leadership Institute students to bring quality education to the school communities of East Africa?

Help provide quality education

Vision for the Future at Gikomero

Vision for the Future at Gikomero School

To look at Gikomero School and the surrounding village today, you would never know that this area used to be considered a prime example of division and poverty. Today, students and community members are happy and hardworking. They are motivated to serve as an example for other struggling villages as a testament to the value of transformation that comes from a quality education and a school that provides it at the heart of the village.

Under our School Development Program, Wellspring has been working with Gikomero since 2011. When we first arrived, teachers would not lesson plan, they did not properly evaluate students, and they used physical punishment as a method of discipline. The leadership did not have a vision for the school to improve, and so they let this tumultuous situation continue. For the past six years, our trainers have worked with the leadership and teachers to help them combat these issues. Performance has improved dramatically and now the leaders have a vision for the future. They are working towards seeing Gikomero become a model school for its entire sector. Now that teachers understand the importance of a quality education and are well-versed in the techniques necessary to implement it, this goal is within reaching distance.

In a recent Grade One English lesson, a teacher developed activities and teaching aids that would help the students learn different job titles.

In a recent Grade One English lesson, a teacher developed activities and teaching aids that would help the students learn different job titles. But the teacher did not only teach the students about the vocabulary surrounding careers, he also spent time engaging with each student about their dream job for the future. He encouraged each one in the pursuit of these dreams and helped them to write and tape it to the wall so that they could remember what they are working towards. During a secondary lesson, students conducted experiments using weights and water to learn about buoyancy. They worked as a team and respected each other and their teacher. Both of these classroom lessons would have been unthinkable when we first encountered Gikomero.

We have also been working with the local Gikomero community using our Asset-Based Community Development methods. After sensitizing parents to their role in their child’s education and helping them to identify their assets, our trainers have seen a huge improvement in the community’s investment in the school. Parents have undertaken many initiatives, such as rallying around families who struggle to keep their children in school due to a lack of resources and bringing dropouts back to school.

All of these efforts, both in the school and surrounding community, have borne fruit.

Constructing new classrooms at Gikomero.

Recently, Gikomero was selected as a model village for the Gasabo district. In this new government initiative, each district in Rwanda is constructing a model village to serve as an example of what all communities should be striving towards. The model villages will feature, among other things, access to electricity and clean water, play areas for children, and housing for vulnerable individuals. As education is at the heart of development, so too are the schools at the centre of these new model villages. Gikomero School is already working to build new classrooms, including four smart classrooms that seamlessly integrate technology, and bring water and electricity to the whole school. Other improvements are being made at the school as well, such as investing in early childhood education materials and revitalizing the use of technology. The leaders, teachers, and students are excited to see the leaps forward that are being made in their school and community.

Wellspring feels blessed to be part of Gikomero’s story as they move forward into this exciting new phase. We are excited for this model to serve as an inspiration to others, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this school and this village!

Help provide quality education

Trust: The Foundation for Improvement in Schools

Trust: The Foundation for Improvement in Schools

**Names changed to protect identities**

Trust is key in any relationship, especially within the realm of education. For a school to succeed, there must be a strong cohesion within the team of educators. Only when all stakeholders in a school come together to support each other can a quality education exist in the classroom. Wellspring knows that trust is the foundation upon which strong teams are built. Through our trainings, we help leaders embrace their team of educators by promoting healthy relationships between teachers and leaders. Once trust has been established, team members are more willing to receive feedback from each other and can begin the cycle of continuous improvement that comes through peer learning. Trust is the catalyst that pushes schools towards success.

After attending a Wellspring workshop on the importance of trust in education, John, the Head Teacher at Gasabo Primary, realized this was the missing competent in his team of educators. In order to see his school succeed in the future, he knew this issue needed to be fixed quickly. He began to brainstorm and soon realized that trust is earned through relationships. He organized a daily tea break with the teachers at Gasabo Primary and, as a sense of community began to emerge through this daily shared experience, John started to see an improvement in team strength, open-mindedness, and trust amongst team members. Each department meets during this break and discusses how they can help one another to achieve more. The Head Teacher sits with each group, never setting himself apart, to provide support. He encourages lively discussion about ideas for surpassing the challenges faced by the school and reminds the team about the school’s vision of overcoming illiteracy in students.

Trust: The Foundation for Improvement in Schools

Trust: The Foundation for Improvement in Schools

With this daily tea break emerged a sense of trust amongst the educators. Because they now feel like part of the same community, they are open to receiving feedback from each other. Thanks to the Head Teacher’s initiative, a culture of shared knowledge and trust has developed at Gasabo Primary. When new teachers enter the school, they are quick to adapt to quality education techniques. The supportive and welcoming nature of other teachers has helped three of the new teachers to improve to the point where they are already giving lessons at the level of those who have received intense training from Wellspring. By humbling himself and supporting his educators, John has helped his team to become strong, unified, and successful, which allows the school to focus on what is important: providing a quality education for students.

In 2017, after seeing Gasabo Primary improve immensely under his leadership, John was transferred to another school to help this success grow to impact even more students. Upon his arrival at the new school, John immediately organized a peer learning session amongst his new team of educators. He made sure to meet with each of the teachers personally to establish a foundation of trust before evaluating their styles and providing feedback for their improvement. He is now spreading Wellspring’s quality education techniques at his new school, and improvement has already begun. Teachers have started to grasp the concepts of active participation through group discussions and teaching aids, and positive behavioral management techniques. John’s success at this new school proves that, with good leadership and a foundation of trust, schools are pushed towards success and quality education emerges in the classroom.

Will you partner with us as Wellspring works to equip more leaders like John to bring transformation to their schools and beyond?

Help equip leaders

2016 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2016 was a year packed with activity as we worked with over 1,600 teachers, 92,000 children, and hundreds of parents and leaders. We impacted 484 communities through our Asset Based Community Development work. We expanded our reach into schools in the Western Province of Rwanda, increased our work to build sustainability and excellence into our School Development Program in Gasabo, and built on the success of our first year of the Abundant Leadership Institute. 

View our 2016 Annual Report

Here are few highlights from our Annual Report:

  • 2016 Annual Report Cover

    Competence Based Curriculum: 2016 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. Gasabo district, where Wellspring’s School Development Program operates, has experienced great success in the implementation of this new curriculum, which can be traced to the roots of our training, which prepares teachers with skills for promoting quality education.

  • Abundant Leadership Institute: Our ALI, 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.

  • Wellspring Academy: 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.

  • North American Events: We experienced great success connecting our North American partners with our work in Rwandan schools through a variety of events in 2016. We held our 8th Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda and 3rd Rachel’s Ride for Rwanda. Hundreds attended our Vancouver & Toronto Galas. We also held our first 4STAGES in Rotation—a truly unique experience of Art, Drama, Music & Food.

 

The First Graduates from Wellspring's Abundant Leadership Institute

First ALI Graduation

It’s a joyous time here at Wellspring! On June 9th, 2017, the first nine graduates of our Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI) walked across the stage.

At the start of the program in August 2015, these students came from various education communities across Rwanda. Though many of them didn’t know each other, they all shared a passion for increasing their leadership abilities to equip their schools—and the next generation of Rwandans—for success. The past year-and-a-half of trainings saw this cohort work through modules covering everything from empowering mentorship to self-leadership. They’ve learned to assess their goals and adopt a servant heart. They know that to lead effectively, others must be put first, and that the success of a leader comes through the success of those they lead.

Each of these nine graduates worked tirelessly to finish this program. We are in awe of their dedication and hard working spirit. The impact of good leadership is immeasurable, as are the number of lives of students, teachers, and members of the wider community that will be changed due to the new mindset and techniques adopted by our alumni. We’re excited to see the transformation that our ALI graduates will bring to the education community in Rwanda and beyond, and look forward to continuing to engage with them as alumni.

Richard Taylor, Wellspring’s Rwanda Country Director had the following words about this historic moment for Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute:

“The graduation of our pioneer class is a big milestone for the Abundant Leadership Institute. We are excited about how these Christian leaders are applying what they have learned in their schools and look forward to seeing them empower a new generation of emerging leaders in Rwanda and beyond.”

The First Graduates from Wellspring's Abundant Leadership Institute

What is the Abundant Leadership Institute?

Founded in August 2015, the Abundant Leadership Institute is a Wellspring Foundation for Education program that combines quality values-based education and advanced leadership development. The most promising educators from across Central Africa come together to learn how to increase their leadership abilities so that they can transform their school communities and empower the next generation of leaders.

To learn more about the Abundant Leadership Institute and see the very real impact that this training has upon schools watch Tite’s Story, a film featuring one of our new ALI graduates, Tite Siborurema. Using Wellspring and ALI techniques, Tite transformed Kabuye School from a place of dysfunctional educational practices to a high performing place of respect and learning. After reversing its decline and setting Kabuye School on a path towards success, Tite was moved on to Rugando School to spread this transformation to a new school community.

Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute exists because we know that transformation starts with leadership. Will you partner with us as we strive to equip Rwanda’s current educational leaders with the skills to empower the next generation?

Help empower Leaders

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

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

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.

Invest in our Innovative Work

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. 

Partner with Wellspring in 2017

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!

Invest in Rwandan Leaders

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.


Invest in our innovative work

Ray was passionate
about education in Rwanda

Return to this page on #GivingTuesday, November 28, to give you gift and it will be TRIPLED!



This year, #GivingTuesday is dear to our hearts because we’re celebrating the beautiful life of Ray Olafsen. Ray was passionate about education in Rwanda and we were grateful to have him serve on our Board of Directors. He was a hilariously funny guy who always kept us laughing and who always wore the brightest socks. He kept us focused on the issues of poverty and the marginalized children in Rwanda that we work with. He never quit and he never surrendered and he inspires all of us at Wellspring to do the same.

Ray passed away a few weeks ago, but before he died, with the generosity that defined his life, he decided to offer $25,000 to match the funds we are raising on #GivingTuesday.

On #GivingTuesday wear your bright socks loudly and proudly and know that every dollar you give will have three times the impact! It will be matched first through Ray’s kind gift of $25,000 and it will then be matched again by our year end matching grant. Join us next Tuesday to help Ray and Wellspring change the future for tens of thousands of young Rwandans…and send a smile Ray’s way at the same time!

Return to this page on #GivingTuesday, November 28, to give you gift and it will be TRIPLED!

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.

web-photos-claudine-students

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

New ALI Year

On September 5, 2016, Wellspring Foundation’s Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI) started its academic year with a new cohort of students. Education leaders and school entrepreneurs from Rwanda and across the region are participating in the course this year. For a week, students were taken through a series of topics known as the “Foundations of Abundant Leadership”, which is an introductory overview of the core modules that will be taught throughout the course.

“Here at the Abundant Leadership Institute, we seek to join together a cohort of leaders who have a vision to transform the education sector. We want to help them bring that vision to a reality. Today, we’re beginning our Foundations module. This course guides our students on a journey from a scarcity mentality of leadership to an abundant mentality, which will ultimately aid them in changing their schools and their communities. In addition, this module works to bind the students together in a cohort of leaders who can support each other on this journey of transformation”

– Richard Taylor, Wellspring’s Rwanda Country Director and a key ALI facilitator.

New Partnership with Trinity Western University

Wellspring is delighted to announce that we have entered into a new partnership with Trinity Western University (TWU), focused particularly on our Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI). This partnership will see all ALI graduates receive a “Certificate of Participation” from TWU, beginning in January 2017 when the first graduation takes place. This certificate will be given in recognition that our ALI program is becoming a leading contributor to leadership capacity building in the African educational arena, which fits well with TWU’s mission and vision. The program will have TWU involvement through guest speakers and contributors, and shares a similar leadership philosophy. In addition, TWU brings a great deal of knowledge regarding distance learning, online learning commons, and the development of digital libraries, which complements Wellspring’s experience in the area of hands-on practical training in a Rwandan context.

Signing the new partnership agreement with TWU.

On September 1st, Wellspring held a reception at our Kigali offices where 40 representatives from different schools and institutions had the opportunity to hear about the various programs offered at Trinity Western University. Our Rwandan team also enjoyed participating in a signing ceremony (pictured) where our partnership with TWU was both sealed and, most importantly,  dedicated to God. We are all very excited about the encouraging impact this will have on the future of our Abundant Leadership Institute, and are so thankful to TWU for their enthusiastic support.

As Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Director, Phocas Ngendahayo, shared: “What a blessing to work with like-minded people who want to serve God’s agenda and serve His people around the world!”

Learn more about the ALI

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

2015 Annual Report

As we look back on 2015, we are filled with gratitude for the many ways we have seen God at work, and for the change that is taking place at an individual and systemic level in Rwanda through quality values-based education. As you will read in our Annual Report below, we have the privilege of working in the 49 schools of Rwanda’s Gasabo District, as well 22 schools in the west of Rwanda, where we equip school leaders, teachers, parents, and community leaders to play their part in developing vibrant learning communities where 90,000+ students can thrive and fulfill their God-given potential. 

View our 2015 Annual Report

Here are few highlights from our Annual Report:

  • 2015 Annual Report

    Increased Impact in Rwandan Schools: Our School Development Program continues to turn schools into vibrant communities in Gasabo District. Through partnership with the Association of Baptist Church Schools (AEBR), Wellspring began providing technical and advisory support to AEBR schools. The SDP is now directly impacting 1700+ teachers, 90,000+ students, and their families, in 71 schools.

  • Recognition by the Ministry of Education: Wellspring received an award for School Leadership and Management from the Rwandan Ministry of Education at the Innovation for Education Conference.

  • Abundant Leadership Institute: The ALI officially launched in August with the first cohort of students—a wonderfully gifted group of Christian educators who are deeply inspiring.

  • Wellspring  Galas: Over 450 guests joined us in Vancouver, BC for the Wellspring Gala. We premiered three new short films which highlighted our work, and over $250,000 was raised. We also held our first Wellspring Ontario Gala in Burlington, ON with over 150 guests. 

  • JustUs: In partnership with Youth Unlimited, we held our first two JustUs Training conferences in Vancouver, BC and Hamilton, ON and partnered with the Canadian Youth Workers Conference to roll out a national training initiative in 6 regional locations.
    More info at:
    thereisjustus.com

  • Cycling Events: The Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda, Rachel’s Ride for Rwanda, and the Ride for Refuge were great successes engaging partners in North America with our work in Rwandan schools.

 

Gasabo District’s “Open Day”

Once a year, each Rwandan school district organizes an “Open Day” for district partners to showcase their activities, products, and services. As usual, the 2016 Gasabo district’s “Open Day” is being held at the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali. From June 28 to June 30, the Gasabo community will have a unique opportunity to learn more about the various development partners active in the school district.

And we’re one of them!

As a key education development partner, Wellspring Foundation is honoured to participate in “Open Day”. Each year, this event provides us with the opportunity to showcase the nature of our work in public schools to the Gasabo community, as well as the chance to explain why we do what we do. We love sharing about our passion to be a catalyst for transforming education for hundreds of thousands of African children and fostering vibrant communities that address poverty in all its forms.

open-day-2016-vedaste“We commend the district of Gasabo for giving such an opportunity to all its partners to share what they do with the Community but also to build the synergy between different stakeholders. There are great initiatives and innovative solutions developed by many actors in the districts but that remain untold. So this event allows us to openly say to the community of Gasabo : ‘We do all this for you’” —Vedaste Byombi, Wellspring’s Program Manager: Community Involvement

Quality education trainer Daniel DUSHIMUMUREMYI explaining Wellspring's Teaching Aids to Gasabo Mayor Mr. Stephen RWAMULANGWA and to other districts leaders
Quality education trainer Daniel DUSHIMUMUREMYI explaining Wellspring’s Quality Education Philosophy to Gasabo Mayor Mr. Stephen RWAMULANGWA and to other districts leaders.

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Daniel exhibiting one of Wellspring’s designed teaching materials.

Community involvement trainer, Marie Jeanne Tuyisenge explaining the asset-based community development concept. The community, she says, should have a "half-full' glass mentality rather than an "half-empty" one...
Community involvement trainer, Marie Jeanne Tuyisenge explaining the asset-based community development concept. The community, she says, should have a “half-full’ glass mentality rather than an “half-empty” one.

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More than 70 organizations attended “Open Day”.

Teachers’ Perspectives

It is said that “good teachers are costly but bad teachers cost more”. Therefore, empowering teachers is a nonnegotiable requirement in the process of establishing and sustaining quality education in schools.

In line with the Rwandan Government education strategy, which emphasizes the importance of developing qualified and competent teachers in order to achieve great learning outcomes, Wellspring’s team of trainers strives to ensure that teachers in public schools receive the right care and support to help them grow as highly skilled and competent teachers.

The journey toward transformation can be long. Yet, the significant impact of Wellspring’s investment in schools can be felt and assessed on the progressive and genuine change in attitude and practice of trained teachers at schools, in classrooms and in their communities, as reflected in teachers’ living stories from different schools.

 

Bosco NDABIKUNZE

Teacher | Groupe Scolaire Kinyinya

Bosco NDABIKUNZE, Teacher

“Few years ago, the only thing I cared about in my teaching was to ensure that I complete the curriculum. The way I would do it didn’t matter. But following the trainings I received from Wellspring, both my teaching mythology and my interactions with students remarkably changed. I gained a better perspective on effective lessons planning by realizing that the student should always be at the center of my teaching. I also understood the importance of improving the collaboration with parents to encourage them to get involved in their children’s education”

 

Jeannette MUKARUNANIRA

Teacher | Groupe Scolaire Kinyinya

Jeannette MUKARUNANIRA

“Despite my 20 years of teaching experience, I learned from Wellspring that quality education includes proper students’ behavior management, and building the child’s self-confidence in the learning process. I learned how to build real and good relationships with my students in order to ensure that they enjoy my lessons. I also realized that teaching aids should be designed in a way that will allow and encourage group works and students’ active participation”

 

Samuel UWAMAHORO

Teacher | Groupe Scolaire Kagugu

Samuel UWAMAHORO

“In my 15 years of experience as a teacher, my teaching philosophy in a classroom could be summarized in one sentence: ‘You do what I say or You fail!’. Unfortunately, this attitude established an environment of fear and it destroyed my students’ self-esteem. I am thankful to Wellspring’s trainers who challenged my teaching approach by helping me understand that great teachers are not student’s bosses. Instead, they are catalysts that help students tap into their potential. When I started to work on my negative approach, students’ interest in my lessons considerably increased because they felt valued and loved. But most importantly, because they realized that I genuinely allowed them to actively participate in what was happening in the classroom. Following the launch of the new teaching curriculum by the Rwanda Education Board, I strongly believe that Wellspring’s experience is what teachers need to be able to deliver the curriculum consistently”

Help us invest in teachers

Help Wellspring Impact a Generation

Wellspring exists to see lives, schools, and communities transformed through quality education.

Your support enables us to work towards this vision, as we empower those who teach, lead, and raise Rwanda’s children with the tools to give them the best education possible.

And the result? Students are witnessing significant change in their parents, teachers, and leaders, which is in turn impacting their entire learning experience. Wellspring’s training is truly making a difference, as students share here in their own words:

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Watch our new animated short, ‘A Revolution in Education‘, that explains the impact of our work.

In the lives of Teachers: “Our teachers help us to understand the lesson, and they teach with love and care. In class, students ask questions when they haven’t understood and teachers explain with kindness. Before the training provided by Wellspring to our teachers, we were afraid of asking questions because we were afraid of being beaten. Now the teachers care for students. They teach us how to respect ourselves and respect others. They give us class rules and school rules, and lead us by example.”

In the lives of Leaders: “Now, our Head Teacher loves students. Before the training from Wellspring, students could avoid them because they were not kind. Nowadays, they have become friendly; they give advice to our teachers and our parents on how to respect our rights; they listen to students, especially their complaints; and now there is good relationship between the Head Teacher and the teachers, and even with students and parents.”

In the lives of Parents: “My parents now care about my learning and I can communicate to them and tell them everything – failure or success – without fearing to be beaten.”

Your partnership is making this possible. Together, we have the opportunity to invest in the lives of thousands of Rwandan children, by continuing to empower teachers, leaders, and parents to play their unique part in bringing lasting change.

Will you join us in impacting a generation by making a financial contribution toward our work in Rwandan schools?

2017 YE

 

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Tite’s Story

In 2012 Tite Siborurema was appointed as Head Teacher at Kabuye School to reverse its decline. Today, there is unity and new life at Kabuye. Watch Tite’s Story to see how this transformation took place.

3 years ago, Kabuye Groupe Scolaire was experiencing major dysfunction and conflict due to poor leadership, overcrowded classrooms, scarce resources, and high dropout rates. Today, Kabuye is an award-winning school that truly embodies Wellspring’s vision of a Vibrant School Community. What’s been the catalyst for this dramatic change?

Meet Tite Siborurema

Tite is a student at Wellspring’s Abundant Leadership Institute and, since 2012, the Head Teacher at Kabuye. Tite, who had recently completed Wellspring’s Servant Leadership Training, was appointed to Kabuye to reverse the school’s decline—and immediately began demonstrating the principles of Christ-like leadership that he had learned in his new school setting.

As Wellspring trainers began to work with Kabuye’s teachers, Tite was building strong relationships with those teachers, developing a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration. He brought primary and secondary staff together to enhance cooperation, and coached teachers who had been causing conflict.

Tite encourages teachers to share knowledge and experience through regular in-service training—an  initiative that was recently recognized with a national award!

Wellspring’s training in Asset Based Community Development also created a paradigm shift as parents and teachers began developing solutions together at Kabuye. A kitchen, school fence, hygiene room, and modern latrines have been built as a result. They have also launched a feeding program and supplemented teachers’ low salaries.

Today, there is unity and new life at Kabuye

Students receive a holistic education (with more students than ever now excelling in national exams), while developing character, and building community. Tite credits this transformation to the investment Wellspring has made in his life and his school.

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Something Changes Everything

Get involved by joining Team Wellspring! Use your creativity and passion to take an active role by fundraising, donating or spreading awareness for our work. Choose from the options below to get started in a few short minutes!


Fundraising for Wellspring

Birthday

Make this birthday one to remember. Celebrate your birthday and Wellspring at the same time.

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Sports

Whether you’re hiking a mountain, skydiving for the first time, or anything in between, use your next ‘thing’ to transform education in Rwanda.

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In Honor Of

Celebrate the memory of someone you love by raising support for a cause they care about.

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Be Creative

Grow a mustache, shave your head, play a video game, dance all day. Do your thing, just do it for Wellspring. Go ahead. Get creative!

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People Matter

At Wellspring, people matter. Our trainers invest in the development of teachers, school leaders, and the wider community of parents, ensuring that people are empowered from the inside out so that their lives and communities can be restored and transformed.

Within the framework of our School Development Program, our trainers share their experience and expertise with teachers to ensure that positive attitudes and practices are not only acquired, but that they are also multiplied and sustained. However, Wellspring’s support is never limited to the development of technical skills and the acquisition of knowledge. A real and deep inside out change from those being empowered is what makes this journey special.

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This is reflected in the words of Mary Nankya, one of our passionate teacher trainers. Mary has participated in this transformational journey with schools leaders, teachers, local government officers, and parents in Gasabo district since 2008.

Mary believes that building vibrant relationships is core to our program’s success:

Teaching aids, learning materials, time management, lesson planning are important quality education concepts. But I always resist the temptation to see them as an end. Our ultimate goal as trainers is to witness a genuine transformation of relationships between students and teachers, or a deep change of attitude from parents regarding their involvement in the education of their children.”

Mary admits the journey is not always easy or straightforward—tough challenges and obstacles arise, and progress needs to be sustained:

All days are not the same. Sometimes we celebrate our success. Sometimes we learn to listen so that we can understand why we are facing resistance. And in all circumstances, we have come to understand that people’s lives matter and that our action should always start with building relationships that are conducive to great learning environments. Our priority should always be to restore broken families and to care for the people we support, since it is always about people. And this is what makes Wellspring’s work great and always enjoyable.”

People matter to us. And by partnering with Wellspring, you can help us continue to put people first as we invest in seeing lives and education transformed.

Help us continue our innovative work

Remarkable change at Gisozi

Most of the schools supported by Wellspring are characterized by overcrowded classrooms. Gisozi Primary is no exception. With just 23 teachers for 1846 students, the average class size is roughly 80. Yet Gisozi’s teachers have displayed a strong will and commitment to ensure that all the children are cared for accordingly, and that quality education is the priority of the school.

The effort to improve school standards through the development of quality education and strong leadership at Gisozi has captured the attention of the community, and local government partners.

So what is happening at Gisozi that is causing people to take notice?

Meet Mamille Mukangemanyi and Immaculee Twendeleye

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Mamille, the headmistress, and Immaculee, the deputy headmistress, are vibrant leaders whose greatest passion is ensuring that quality education is in place.

Immaculee shares that, “Wellspring has really played a transformational role in our school. Before we received Wellspring’s training, we believed in corporal punishment as the most persuasive way to manage the behavior of our students. We were wrong. Instead, we realized that positive behavior management based on authentic love for our students is what is needed. Inclusive education has also been an important area that needed to be developed. Wellspring has also taught us how we can help students work together with love and respect. This has synergized students’ relationships to the point that some proactively raised funds to buy clothes and soaps for their needy colleagues. We have also seen a change of attitude from our students, who are now voluntarily involved in the cleaning of their classrooms. This is the result of the integration of values in our lessons.

We learned to care and to love our children in a very deep way so that they can joyfully collaborate in their own learning.” —Mamille

Another important component of the remarkable change the school has experienced is the adoption and implementation of sound teaching practices that foster quality education:

Unlike in previous years where our teachers could come start a lesson without having planned it accordingly, today lesson planning is a key and non-negotiable activity of all our teachers. We ensure that all the lessons are planned consistently and that values are integrated in the lesson. This has helped our children have a clear understanding of what is taught, so that they can relate to it in their own lives. This has raised our students’ performance in a significant way. The journey is still long but we are determined to make it a culture in our school,” Mamille notes.

You can help Wellspring see schools like Gisozi become models for quality education in Rwanda, by partnering with us today.

Help us continue our innovative work

True Change Is Possible: A Parent’s Perspective


For a decade, Wellspring has been actively and passionately engaged in transforming the lives of Rwandans through our innovative School Development Program. A key component of the program focuses on equipping the community, and particularly parents, to deepen their involvement in the development of their schools, and in the learning and teaching of their children.

Florence Mutuyemungu is one of the parents that Wellspring has been privileged to train. As a result of our training, Florence developed a great passion for early childhood education, and is now a caregiver in one of the community nurseries. During recent training, she was eager to share how helpful Wellspring’s involvement has been to her and to many other parents as well.

“I am so thankful to Wellspring for their great involvement in empowering us … The increased parental awareness to be involved in the development of schools has allowed substantial and positive change in many ways. As a result of Wellspring initiatives, parents developed healthy work relations with school leaders. This ended the recurrent conflicts between parents and school head teachers. We also witnessed a growing attendance of parents in schools meetings. Many parents got involved in the development of school infrastructures like fences, refectories, public latrines, and hygiene rooms. Parents proactively supplemented teachers’ low salaries through voluntary and regular financial contributions. But on top of all that, students’ performance and quality education were highly improved. We hope that these kinds of training will continue to be accessible to as many parents as possible, to ensure that the community involvement in education is fostered.”

For Florence personally, the impact of Wellspring’s training has also been significant:

“Although we were elected and entrusted by our fellow parents to assist our community schools [through General Assembly Committees], some of us had no idea about what was expected from us. Wellspring helped us understand the nature of our role, as well as our relationship with teachers, school leaders, and students. So this training is very important and relevant since it helps the participants earn a deeper understanding of what it takes to be involved in the development of their schools. I strongly believe that if the lessons learned are consistently put into practice, schools will be positively impacted, and our students’ quality education will be deeply improved.”

True change is possible – and is happening – when parents are equipped to play their unique part in ensuring the best possible education for their children. Will you join us in making this transformation possible?

Help us equip parents

Parents Equipped to Bring Change

In each of the school communities in which Wellspring works, we conduct training in Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) for parents. The aim of this training is to empower parents by leading them through a process in which they reframe their understanding of what they have to contribute in their community. The process is as follows:

  • They share successful stories in their lives
  • They discover their role as “citizens” who have something to contribute
  • They get to know how they can use what they have (their “assets”) to secure what they need, personally and for their community
  • They discover and share individual gifts – of heart, head, and hand
  • They become more aware of the power of community, and of working together
  • Then as a community, they discover their concerns, their dreams, and their gift-giving opportunities

Parents who have participated in this training talk repeatedly of how much it has helped them, particularly as they understand their roles in their school, and in their children’s education. Traditionally, many parents have seen their role as simply providing supplies to their students, and have left everything else entirely to the teachers. But now, parents are increasingly realising that their engagement with the school is key to their children’s learning experience.  Head Teachers speak of how, following ABCD training, a big change has been noticeable. Parents are visiting their children at school to find out how they are getting on, and many are taking initiatives for the development of their school.

For example, in one of these schools there was a parent who, following ABCD training, decided to follow his child’s progress more closely, as he had been performing poorly at school. It soon came to his attention that his son was neither taking notes at school, nor doing his homework – hence the issues with his progress. This parent met with his son’s teachers, and they decided to work together to follow the child’s progress at school, encouraging him and working with him to ensure he was completing his work each day. After only a month, there was a big change and improvement in this child’s progress. He had seen that his father cared, that his teachers cared … and this completely changed his attitude to school.

Wellspring’s Program Manager, Rachel, reports that, “this particular parent, together with many other parents, thanks Wellspring for having trained them, awakened their minds, and helped them to find solutions to their own challenges. They assure us that they are going to continue working together, thinking of more things they can do to improve the learning of their children.”

Help us equip parents

The Impact of an Empowered Leader

The journey towards school transformation is not one that happens overnight – but when the change begins in one person, the ripple effects can be enormous. At Nduba Groupe Scolaire, one of the K-12 schools that we work in, this has been particularly true.

Nduba is a very large school (with 1783 students & 37 teachers) that had experienced a time of stagnancy in its progress towards quality education. Conflict among leaders and a lack of collaboration among staff left teachers and leaders unmotivated, and unable to move forward. Recently though, following the transfer of some local school leaders, a new Head Teacher was sent to Nduba School. This Head Teacher had not only benefitted from Wellspring’s School Development Program in his previous school, but was committed to applying all he had learned in the context of his new school. The results have been incredible.

The Head Teacher began by working, in partnership with Wellspring trainers and the school leadership, to set strategies for the school. He also focused in on trying to rebuild the team of staff, particularly by showing each member how much they are valued, and how important their role is. As a result of this Head Teacher’s example – as he models the good practices he is encouraging in the school – the change has impacted both students and teachers. For example, he turns up early to school to demonstrate the importance and benefit of punctuality, and now students and teachers are increasingly arriving at school on time. Teachers now take their responsibilities seriously, and can be found either teaching their classes or in the office preparing quality lessons for their students.

Wellspring Trainer, Jean Claude, reports that “a spirit of unity is reigning” at Nduba Groupe Scolaire! Teachers now work together with a transformed leadership to achieve a common goal: a quality values-based education for the 1700+ students they serve.

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From Addicted Past to Hope-Filled Future

Sometimes, the lives of the students we serve are changed through the quality of the education they receive. And sometimes, very often in fact, the change comes when relationships are transformed, and when teachers are equipped to journey with students through even the biggest challenges.

In one of the schools we work in, there was a Primary 6 student who had dropped out of school. Though he would return occasionally, his attitude was poor, and his behavioural issues caught the attention of one of his teachers. This teacher was in the midst of his training with Wellspring, and at that point was being trained in student management. Teachers who have been steeped in Wellspring culture understand that every single child has value and potential, and this particular teacher was no exception. He felt compelled to befriend this student who was often absent from class, or who caused disturbances when he was present.  Over time, the teacher and the student built a relationship based on trust and respect, and it was in the context of that trusting relationship that the student confessed his addiction to drugs and alcohol – a common issue in many urban schools.

With support from his teachers, this young student was able to break away from the addictions that were controlling him, and he began to attend school regularly. As the effects of the drugs wore off, his behaviour in class changed dramatically. He realised that the teachers cared about him and loved him, and he began to reciprocate this affection both to his teachers and peers. Eventually, this student was named class mentor, which meant that he was responsible for opening and closing the school. He also became one of the top performing students in his class, and recently passed the exams that allowed him to progress to senior high school!

Transformation is happening in remarkable ways – in schools, in classrooms, and in the lives of students who could so easily have been left behind.

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Thank You & Merry Christmas!

angel

At this special time of year we want to thank you, and celebrate with you. We look forward to what 2016 will bring, and we have many exciting plans. But, most of all, we’re thankful for the peace and grace that is demonstrated at this time of year.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

From Street to School

Wellspring exists to see lives transformed through quality values-based education. Sometimes this transformation begins in a classroom. Sometimes it begins on the streets of a Rwandan community. It always begins with the belief that every child has value and potential, and that no matter the challenges, there is always hope.

In this 6-minute video, we share the story of a child who (along with almost 40 others) is now experiencing the hope that education brings, thanks to an empowered community leader who has been a catalyst for change in each one of these lives.

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Experiencing Vibrancy at Kinyinya School

“It’s amazing to see how both the students and the teacher were motivated despite the few available resources like textbooks and the bigger class size!”
– Emmanuel Niyirora, Teachers Union.

“It’s impressive to see how multipliers [teachers trained by Wellspring] can empower their fellow teachers by sharing even the little that they have. It was amazing to see how values are integrated in the lesson.”
– Catherine Mercy, Save the Children Rwanda.

This week, the Wellspring team in Rwanda had the opportunity to share how our work in one local school is impacting teachers and students alike, through a study visit. This event was organised for a group of people who form part of the Rwanda Education NGOs Coordination Platform (RENCP) – a group that fosters collaboration & encourages experience sharing among organisations working in Rwanda’s education sector.

The Study Visit allowed participants to see the impact of Wellspring’s work in Kinyinya Groupe Scolaire, one of the K-12 schools being equipped through our School Development Program. They had the opportunity to participate in some lesson observation sessions, and to share in a catch-up meeting where best practices and perspectives were shared. Perhaps most meaningfully, they heard from teachers at Kinyinya about how Wellspring’s School Development Program has helped them overcome the serious challenges they face in their profession.

Click here to read the full story, and to hear more feedback from our visitors!

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Transformation at Mbandazi Primary

Wellspring exists to see lives and communities transformed through education, and infused with vibrancy and life. Mbandazi Primary is one of the 49 schools we are privileged to work in that demonstrates in amazing ways how this vision is becoming a reality. Not only are more children than ever passing national exams and progressing to secondary level – a stark contrast to outcomes prior to Wellspring’s involvement – but teachers, leaders, and parents are now working together to provide the facilities their students need. Watch a short 7-minute video below that tells the incredible story of Mbandazi Primary School.

Leading the Way

Baptist Church in Rwanda develops a compelling vision to transform their schools

Since May 2015, Wellspring Foundation for Education has embarked on a new partnership with the Association of Baptist Church Schools in the Western Province.

AEBR started its missionary and educational activities in Rwanda since 1964. With more than 52 schools in the whole Country, the Association is regarded as one of the leading Christian Organizations involved in Education. But despite its impressive visibility, Baptist have not been as successful in making sure that quality education and Christian based values are consistently integrated in to the learning and the teaching. Hence the need for a strong partnership with Wellspring Foundation.

Through this partnership, Wellspring will provide technical, advisory and financial support to 22 AEBR schools in 4 districts of the Western Province: Nyabihu, Karongi, Rutsiro, and Rubavu. It is expected that AEBR master trainers will be empowered so that they can be able to deliver the Quality Education Programme into their schools. The Program is essentially composed of 8 Core Modules that Wellspring has been using in its Gasabo School Development Programme (SDP) since 2008. It includes key concepts like active participation, Teaching Aids, Values, Inclusive Education, Behavior Management, Cognitive Skills, Lesson Planning, and Group Work.

The programme will be implemented by AEBR trainers Anselme Masengesho and Cyprien Bunani under the supervision of AEBR Director of Education, Mr. Justin Uwubuntu. They will be equipped accordingly in order to help them adopt the required capacity, the perspective, the skill, the philosophy, and the culture that will allow them to bring sustainable change in their schools.

One of them, Anselme Masengesho, has taught and led in two of AEBR schools for up to 7 years. A father of 2 children, this middle-aged educator has been burdened by the painful conditions of their schools and the challenges related to quality that have been affecting their students for many years. This led him to eagerly apply for a trainer position to give his best to the Baptist schools. “We are very excited about this opportunity, he said. “After the years of struggles and a lack of innovative solutions, we are now confident that this partnership will increase professionalism in our schools and that teachers will love their jobs. As a Christian body, we especially expect to see Christian values integrated in our teaching and learning.

A deeper transformation

According to Wellspring Programme Director, Kirsten Mucyo, the expected impact is not only towards transformation and quality. “It is also expected that value-based Christian education will be integrated into these schools. Indeed one of the challenges with these schools has been the difficulty to have Christian values implemented and integrated into their culture and into their classrooms. So one of our key goals in this programme is to have Christian values integrated in a way that transforms the lives of the students towards dignity and integrity and in honoring God in their society. We also hope that this will enable the AEBR educational leadership to lead a process of change onwards”, said Kirsten.

Fostering ownership and sustainability

The partnership will be implemented in a sustainable way in order to foster ownership. As Kirsten put it, “the longer term goal is that they [AEBR educators] would then have the capacity to move things forward towards transformation across their network.”

It is encouraging to see the Baptist Churches lead the way among churches in Rwanda to ensure quality Christian education in their schools.  Wellspring hopes that this will be a model for other churches that will also help them to develop a vision for improving their schools.

Welcome to our 2014 Annual Report

2014, the year in which we celebrated our 10th anniversary, was a banner year for Wellspring – something that was particularly evident in the outstanding results of reports compiled in partnership with both the British and Canadian Government development agencies. In our Annual Report below, you will see some of these results for yourselves, while also encountering stories from the people we serve that bring these statistics to life.

View our 2014 Annual Report

Here are few highlights from our Annual Report:

  • 2014-annual-report-coverWellspring turned 10: We celebrated 10 years of God’s faithfulness in bringing so many dreams for Rwanda to fruition, and building a strong community around our work. We are so grateful for all that this milestone represents.
  • Evaluation of the School Development Program: A recent report to CIDA established just how effective our SDP has been. Highlights of important results are on the following pages of this report.
  • Increased Impact in Rwandan Schools: Our School Development Program continues to thrive in Gasabo District, and is helping to turn schools into vibrant communities. The SDP is directly impacting 1600+ teachers, 82,000+ students, and their families, in 49 schools.
  • Wellspring Imagine Gala: Over 500 guests joined us in Vancouver, BC for our Imagine Gala. We premiered three new short films which highlighted our work, and over $200,000 was raised.
  • JustUs: In partnership with Youth Unlimited, we developed a
    curriculum for youth leaders, youth groups, and schools, to explore God’s heart for justice. More info at:
    thereisjustus.com
  • ACSI Rwanda: We worked with other stakeholders to establish the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Rwanda and pilot a relevant accreditation process and standards.
  • Abundant Leadership Summit: 200+ Christian leaders with a passion to transform education attended our First Annual Abundant Leadership Summit in Kigali.
  • Burundi Expansion & Rwanda Transition: We established work in Burundi according to our strategic plan. Jeffrey Komant is our Burundi Country Director. Richard Taylor is our Rwanda Country Director.
  • North American Team Development: We added to staff, and created a partner engagement program focused on transformational activities for those who wish to engage with our work.

 

Download our 2014 Annual Report

Cape2Kigali: Halfway!

Halfway!

Dear friends,

Well the first stage of the ride is over. We have arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe. which was the first and longest of the three legs. We’ll stay here for a rest day before heading for a stop near the Mozambique  border,then across Mozambique in to Malawi. All is going well and it is an amazing adventure.

Incredible people

We’ve met some incredible people. Thsembu, a bushman who showed us how to find water in the middle of the Kalahari desert. Bronwyn and Haydyn who have created an amazing rest stop for missionaries in Botswana. Susan and Sheunesu, working with HIV Aids children in Zimbabwe. So many more besides.

We also held  a meeting for youth leaders in Bulawayo and then I spoke  at a schools assembly about our trip, and the adventure of faith with God. I have a lot to say about that after these last two weeks!

Every person counts

One of the things I have realized yet again is that every person counts, that they all have a story, that they are loved by God and deserve the same dignity and respect from us as though Christ were here himself. It’s also been a deeply humbling thing to experience the power of His creation and to see that reflected in the size of an elephant, the grandeur of a Savannah sunset and even in the eyes of a child who has a short life expectancy due to a terrible virus.

I’ve reached 75% of my target

I’m also so pleased to be able to say that we have now raised nearly $12,500 for Wellspring, just $4,300 left to go to support a whole school and the educational opportunities our work provides for an entire year. I want to thank each one of you who have donated so far. It’s making a huge difference. Help me raise the last 25% by making a donation to Wellspring’s work.

Join us on the ride

For those of you who would like to join the ride, you can go to cape2kigali.com where you can read about these people and the ride in more detail as we post blogs and photos. You can also track us on route and see exactly where we are.

Where in the world is Andy?

Thanks so much for joining the journey.

Peace and grace,
andy-sig

Today I'm being looked after by Josephine. She thinks I'm hilarious. #cape2kigali #thekindnessofstrangers

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Half way. #cape2kigali

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We took the road less travelled. Kalahari Desert Botswana.

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Hope from Exploitation


One of the amazing privileges we have at Wellspring is seeing how investment in the lives of teachers has a ripple effect far beyond the school walls. As these teachers experience change in their hearts and minds, the impact is seen in remarkable ways – in classrooms, in the lives of students, their families, and even in their wider communities. Every life touched is a life full of value and potential. And every story of transformation is a story that matters. Stories of teachers like Antoine*, and students like Violet* (*names changed), for whom a change of approach in the classroom has led to freedom and renewed hope for the future.

When Wellspring’s Teacher Trainers began working at Gatsata Primary School, they encouraged teachers to think meaningfully about their motivation for teaching, and how they are loving, valuing and instilling values in their students; while also equipping them to discipline children in positive, constructive ways. For one Primary 3 teacher, Antoine, this new perspective brought about radical change in his classroom. One day, having built a positive, trusting relationship with his students, he asked them to reflect on the importance of values in their daily lives – and they began to open up and share. Among the stories shared that day was a devastating confession from Violet, who revealed that she was being regularly abused by a P6 boy. She had been left at home alone, and the boy had moved in and treated her as his “wife.” On that day in class, this young girl found the courage to share with a teacher she could trust, and with a school leadership team who were committed to taking action. School leaders shared the situation with Violet’s father, who committed to returning home to care for his daughter. Together, they ensured that the P6 boy was removed and placed in rehabilitation, and that Violet could receive counseling, while living safely with her father in her own home.

The training Antoine received from Wellspring brought new meaning to his work – but it also allowed a learning environment to be created in which students like Violet can receive a quality education, while being respected, cared for, and protected. Gatsata Primary is only one of the 49 schools in which Wellspring is currently privileged to serve, and for every school, there are many more stories of transformation and hope!

Help Transform Students Like Violet

There is just us. And that is enough.

As I write this, our aircraft has just accelerated down the bumpy runway of Bujumbura airport, capital of Burundi, and lifted off into the night sky. We are heading for “New York”. That’s what people in Burundi call Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

It might be hard to believe that you would compare the capital of a country that has a per capita income of $650 a year per person to the shining lights of the Big Apple, but it gives you an idea of the depth of material poverty there is in this nation. It’s a beautiful country, full of natural resources and fertile land, but it’s also one of the poorest places in the world. Yesterday we passed villages and homes, many of them seemingly cobbled together from whatever was available, where it was plain the people were clinging on to the very edge of existence.

We also visited a school in Kibuye in the center of the country. It’s a place that Wellspring hopes to start working in soon, training teachers in how to provide children with a quality and Christian values-based education that will give them opportunities that will change their lives forever. If all goes to plan, we’ll be partnering with the mission hospital run by Hope Africa and working alongside the Free Methodist church as part of a wider work into the local community that we hope will bring true transformation in years to come.

During my visit there, I was surrounded by children who ran into the rough dirt field that passes for a playground to meet Jeff, my friend and Wellspring Burundi Country Director, and myself. We laughed and joked with them, took their pictures and watched them squeal with delight as they looked at their images on the screen. They didn’t have uniforms because they couldn’t afford them, they didn’t have text books because they weren’t available. And as for laptops and iPhones? Well that is an impossible dream.

Yet they were wonderful human beings, loved by God, full of joy, laughter and the mischievous grins that every child we meet here seems to have. Just like any child anywhere in the world really. These kids could be any kid you see at home, it’s just that they happened to be born here, into this existence.

It brought to mind the name that we have given to our “JustUs” project – a project developed in partnership with our friends at The Elevation Project. We chose this name because there is no other, there is just us. The “otherness” that exploded into an orgy of violence in 1994 just across the border in Rwanda and that spilled over into Burundi, where over 200,000 people died in the same ethnic conflict, allowed people to view those from different groups as “cockroaches” rather than human beings. The world looked on because it wasn’t happening in their backyard, it was happening to those “others” over there.

This is the same otherness that we may feel every time we see a homeless person, someone from a different country or tribe, or someone who doesn’t meet our social norms. Someone who is not the same. Someone who is less than ourselves.

Just because it’s a different degree of other thinking from that which causes genocide is no excuse. It’s all part of the same continuum. Every time we allow that otherness to infect us, we take away the dignity that God gives to every human being. We pronounce a judgment that is only available to Him. We damage not just those we should care for, but inject our own souls with toxicity. We can do better.

As we fly over the border, I look down, knowing that thousands of refugees have crossed from Burundi this week. The same otherness is rising here once again as ethnic and political divides rear their ugly heads in the run up to an election. The youth militias are marching again and the world is once more ignoring the danger. So please pray for Burundi. Pray that they will not stagger once more to the edge of the pit of hell, and will instead choose peace and reconciliation as their neighbours in Rwanda have done. Pray that they will know that there is no other, there is just us, loved together by a Holy God.

And pray for yourself today. That God would give you the ability to view everyone you meet with the vision that He has for them, no matter what your human self has been conditioned to think.

There is no other. There is Just us. And that is enough.

Help Support our work in Burundi