Category Archives: Stories

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 to welcome Laura Church Ferguson, our new Western Development Director. This year will also see 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.

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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

Thank you! On #GivingTuesday we raised:

$13,850.00
OF OUR $20,000.00 GOAL

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Wellspring partners, all donations made on #GivingTuesday towards our new project in Rwanda’s Western Province were TRIPLED!

Read on to learn more about this project, and why we’re so passionate about the opportunity to see thousands of lives changed in this region.


The 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 has the exciting opportunity to expand our School Development Program.

We are passionate about seeing education transformed in this region, because we believe that education has the potential to bring change both within and beyond the classroom walls. This is particularly important in an area that experiences high levels of poverty and a lack of parental engagement, in a location (bordering the unstable DRC) where children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and recruitment into militias or forced labour. In the Western Province, education can mean the difference between a future of vulnerability & exploitation and a future of hope & opportunity.

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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, taking the basic principles of our School Development Program and applying them there. Leadership training modules provided school leaders with the skills necessary to promote quality education and to implement Rwanda’s new Competence-Based-Curriculum, while follow-up visits from our training team provided ongoing support to these leaders and teachers. We have seen great success with this strategy, with leaders confronting their past shortcomings, schools moving away from physical punishment, and teachers encouraging active participation by 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 in the Western Province—so that we can provide the necessary support to see these schools completely transformed.

But the work won’t stop there. Our goal is to support the implementation of quality education in these fifteen schools, 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.

Will you partner with us as we work to see vulnerable children equipped with an education that creates hope and opportunity for their future? Together, we can be part of seeing lasting change in tens of thousands of lives.


Give to Western Province

Claudine lacked passion for teaching

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

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

But Wellspring’s trainers didn’t give up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change the future of Rwandan children

Teaching Aids Key to Quality Education

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

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

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

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

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

Become a School Partner

Kibara Students Benefitting from Transformative Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

Jean Paul, student at Kibara Primary School.
Jean Paul

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

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

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

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

Learn about our School Partner Program

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

The Transformative Nature of Peer Learning

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

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

And the best part?

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

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

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

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

Become a School Partner

Expansion into Rwanda’s Western Province

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

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

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

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

Help us continue our innovative work

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?

Give to Wellspring.

 

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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.

staff-mary

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.

Help us continue our innovative work

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.

Help us continue our innovative work

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.

Help us continue our innovative work

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!

Help us continue our innovative work

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

A photo posted by Andy Harrington (@andyharrington) on

Half way. #cape2kigali

A photo posted by Andy Harrington (@andyharrington) on

We took the road less travelled. Kalahari Desert Botswana.

A photo posted by Andy Harrington (@andyharrington) on

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

From Heartache to Joy

I recently had the opportunity to visit Gasogi Groupe Scolaire located in the rural area of the District of Gasabo (Kigali). With 2,578 students and 36 teachers, Gasogi Groupe Scolaire is one of the 49 schools Wellspring Foundation supports through its School Development Program.  From the moment I reached Gasogi I noticed the positive engagement among the lower and upper secondary students.  People at the school seemed engaged and at peace. I felt that I was really in a safe and warm environment.  The joy and enthusiasm on the playground was palpable. No doubt, these children were in good hands.

What was it that made Gasogi different from so many other schools? In my curiosity to know a little more, I decided to meet some of the School staff and to ask them to tell me what the source of this particular environment is. That is when I met Antoinette and Hyacinthe.

Antoinette’s Story

As the Director of Study of the School, Antoinette has been overseeing the learning and teaching in the school for more than 3 years. With her constant smile, she warmly welcomed me in her office.

Antoinette explained that what I witnessed what the outward manifestation of a deep and real change that took place in this school since the Leadership decided to implement Quality Education Principles offered by the Wellspring Foundation.

“Our school has not been like this until we started to implement Wellspring Foundation’s Quality Education Practices,” she said as I was searching for explanations to help me understand this unusual phenomenon that cannot be easily found in so many Rwandan public schools.

“There was a time,” she recalled, “when no one here understood what key concepts like ‘Lesson observation’ or ‘Lesson Planning’ or ‘inclusive education’ were about. Learning and teaching were done carelessly. Our goal at that time was to make sure the students succeeded at the national exams whether or not they received Quality Education. But since the time we understood the importance to carefully plan our lessons, to diligently observe lessons in classrooms, things completely changed. We understood the importance of considering both fast and slow learners as we plan and teach. We understood the importance of helping the students develop their cognitive skills. Applying these principles eased the teachers’ work whereas before they kept complaining about their work because it was a burden. The students responded very positively to this change and what you see is just one outward manifestation of the inward change our school people are experiencing.”

As I was exiting the school compound at the end of my visit, my attention was captured by a small crowd of young students who were joyfully laughing and surrounding a young woman. Her name was Hyacinthe and she was one the school teachers. Hyacinthe was spontaneous, relaxed, and easily approachable.

Help Transform Teachers Like Antoinette

Hyacinthe’s Story

What could be the cause of such an enthusiasm and bond expressed by this kind of unusual friendship displayed by these teens students on this sunny day? I asked Hyacinthe to help me understand the phenomenon.

“It’s certainly because of the new Student Behavior Management principles we learned from Wellspring Trainers,” she responded. “There was a time when we used to hurt and brutalize our students to make them behave in a way we wanted. But since we learned and understood what true behavior management is about, our students really love the school. They are always happy and real. It’s one of the reasons I firmly decided to stay in this school and to continue to teach my students because not only do I love them but they are also my friends.”  She clearly could not hide her joy and emotions as she was telling her story.

Gasogi Groupe scolaire is certainly not one of the privileged schools in Rwanda or in the Gasabo District. But what one thing is very certain: this rural small school with very limited resources and various challenges has decided to proactively use their assets, strengths, potential and time to move from Heartache to Joy.

Help Transform Teachers Like Hyacinthe

Reposted from our Wellspring Rwanda website: www.wellspringrwanda.org/from-heartache-to-joy-a-story-from-gasogi-groupe-scolaire/

Transformation Across The Generations

In my role with Wellspring, I have the honour of regularly hearing stories that move me – but there are some stories that resonate particularly deeply. Today, one of our team members here in Rwanda shared an incredible story that demonstrated how love across generations can bring deep transformation, and even redemption. As I consider how an elderly woman and two young girls can bring hope to each other’s lives, I am in awe of how God can weave stories together for His redemptive purposes.

Agathe’s Story

Agathe is a dear elderly widow in one of Wellspring’s communities, who has seen much in her life, but who owns very little. As an older widowed woman in rural Africa, her fortune is limited, and she survives on trying to sell whatever she can find. Many would consider Agathe one of the “poorest of the poor,” and yet the truth is that while she may be materially poor, she is in fact rich at a much deeper level – she is rich in her ability to love.

In spite of her beautiful character, though, Agathe was unable to see this beauty in herself. Burdened by life and survival and a world that focuses on material wealth, she no longer believed that she had anything to offer the world, or that she had any value. She would feel helpless when she couldn’t provide money or resources to help others, and increasingly felt that she had no worth to anyone.

One day in February, a wonderful Wellspring Teacher Trainer named Jeanne visited Agathe’s village, and began sharing with her community through a process called Asset Based Community Development. As Jeanne shared, she spoke of “gifts of the heart,” and explained that everyone has a gift worth giving; a gift that can play a part in transforming their community. As Agathe listened intently, she began to feel the truth soaking into her own weary and devalued soul, and for the first time in many years she realized that she did indeed hold a gift of great value – the gift of deep love! As this sense of worthiness began to flood in, her pride and strength arose anew, and she realized that she still had something of great value left to give, even in these later years of her life.

Following the training session, Agathe found herself recalling that she had seen two girls in uniform riding on moto taxis away from school to a house in the middle of a school day. Although she had no phone and was unsure of what to do, she knew that she had love, and she had courage – so she chose to take action. Agathe knocked on the door of the house that the girls had been taken to, and requested to speak to the “Mama” of the house. As she shared her concerns with the Mama about the young men who entered this house with the school girls, the woman showed similar concern and called the police. The police came quickly and rescued the girls, who they discovered were being brought to the home for prostitution. The two girls were taken to safety, and have been returned to school, where they now have the hope of a very different future ahead of them.

As Agathe shared this story, her eyes were bright with love and pride. She shared that although she may be old and poor, she recognizes that she has something of great worth to give. Through embracing the gift of love that she has been given, and displaying her love in a practical way, two girls who were being manipulated and abused have now experienced the gift of redemptive and rescuing love. And in offering this gift, Agathe has felt a new sense of value and worth in herself. In this beautiful tapestry of life, one old widow’s gift to two young girls has brought hope for the future and joy for the present.

Help Transform School Communities

A Personal Reflection on 10 years of God’s Faithfulness

This year Wellspring celebrated 10 Years of God’s Faithfulness. Over those ten years He has turned a dream for Rwanda into reality and built a team of hundreds of staff, board members, financial supporters, and volunteers. We are truly grateful.

In 2004 there was nothing tangible to show for the dream God had placed on our hearts. It was raw, exciting, and terrifying.  Now we have a much more established work with a capable staff and a strong track record. So why does it still feel raw, exciting and a bit terrifying?

Perhaps it is because we are once again stepping into the unknown. God has clearly shown us it is time to expand beyond our borders and he is asking us to trust him. We are facing some uncharted territory: a country expansion (to Burundi), a new Abundant Leadership Institute, and the growth of our impact from 48 to 150 schools through partnership.

We are excited because the potential spiritual and educational impact in Eastern and Central Africa is huge. And we are uncertain because we do not have all the expertise or resources we need to fulfill the vision on our own. The truth is: we never have.

Thankfully in those moments of doubt God prompts me to get out of the office and take a walk or a drive or schedule a cup of coffee. I walk to the sound of 570+ children on a school site that did not used to exist. I drive with our teacher trainers to a poor rural school where God is changing lives. I chat with Rwandan leaders whose leadership is changing their communities as a result of our support. And I worship together with an incredible team of called people who are rebuilding their country: person by person and brick by brick.

Raw, exciting, and terrifying. Would we want it any other way?

 

Be a Catalyst for Changing Education in Africa

 

Reposted from Richard & Ericka’s blog: A Song for Rwanda

Visiting Mbandazi

In June, I had the opportunity to visit one of the 48 public schools benefiting from Wellspring’s work in Kigali’s Gasabo District. A rural school, Mbandazi is situated just over half an hour outside of bustling Kigali, down a bumpy, dirt road lined with small concrete buildings. The primary school is small, five or so rectangular brick buildings in a “U” shape. As soon as our group exited the truck outside the schoolyard, we could hear the voices of students, reciting in unison whatever it was their teacher had asked of them.

We were greeted by the Headmistress and ushered into her small office. She welcomed us warmly and told us a bit about the school. In the three short years Mbandazi had been part of Wellspring’s School Development Program, it had grown leaps and bounds. The Deputy Head Teacher joined us shortly after and shared with us his dreams of seeing Mbandazi, once a poor, ill-equipped school with few of the students moving onto secondary school, become the top school in the district, setting an example for other rural schools. Only a small portion of the school’s teachers are directly trained by Wellspring, but those teachers are so excited about what they have learned that they actively share with their colleagues, helping them to become better equipped teachers as well.

The head of the Parent-Teacher Committee joined us in the headmistress’s office and shared with us a story of how the relationship between parents and the teachers at Mbandazi had drastically changed since Wellspring began working with them. He told us that, prior to Wellspring’s involvement in the school, parents only ever came to the school to complain. They did not get along with the teachers and only wanted to talk to them when they were angry about something. But Wellspring’s work had taught the parents of the community and the teachers to work together for the good of the children, and the parents began getting more involved in the school. Recently, the headmistress had requested a soccer field be built on the school property so that the students would have somewhere to play. After their request had been ignored for long enough, the teachers invited the student’s parents to the school to help them build the soccer field themselves. Eight hundred previously hostile parents showed up to help that day. The children now have a beautiful soccer field to play on at lunch and after school. But the parents did not stop there. Together with the teachers, they have started another project. In the corner of the school property stands a new school building in progress. United by their passion for Mbandazi’s 1,424 students, teachers and parents have worked side by side to expand the school.

The change in the school since working with Wellspring is tangible. Prior to Wellspring’s involvement, only one Primary 6 student each year passed the national exams and moved on to Secondary School. Last year, not only did the majority of students pass and move on to secondary school, in fact last year, only three students did not, but also teachers’, students’ and parents’ hearts are being changed, relationships are being built, and, as a result, so are soccer fields and school buildings.

Annual Report 2013


Wellspring Foundation Annual Report 2013 Cover

Download the
Wellspring Foundation Annual Report for 2013 (.pdf 787 KB).

Why I Keep on Cycling for Kids in Rwanda!

In just a couple of months, I will be travelling to the Okanagan to take part in the 5th Annual Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda, an event I look forward to every year (Click here to register). While this year marks the 5th anniversary of Lake2Lake, it will in fact be the 9th time that I have taken on a major cycling challenge to raise funds for The Wellspring Foundation. So why do I continue to ride year after year? The reason is simple: I truly believe in what Wellspring is doing. I care about education, and about giving children in Rwanda the opportunity to receive a quality education. Having visited Rwanda twice to see this work first-hand, and as a teacher myself, I see the revolutionary impact that Wellspring is having on education in Rwanda, and I’m excited to play a part in this.

How did this all start?

My journey with Wellspring began back in 2005, when the organisation was still in its early stages. I had been volunteering in Uganda, and had the opportunity to visit friends in Rwanda for a couple of weeks. During this time, I visited a couple of the schools in which Wellspring was working, and assisted with some teacher evaluations. I could clearly see the impact that Wellspring training was having on teachers and students, something that was reinforced when I returned there again in 2010.

I have become more involved with Wellspring over the past 7 years, primarily fundraising for their programs through cycling. In 2006, my close friend Ben Farrant, an avid cyclist, was tragically killed while training for the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Ben was a member of the Wellspring Board, and was so passionate about Rwanda and Wellspring’s work there. The following year, I got onto a road bike for the first time, and began training for the Ben Farrant Memorial Cyclathon, from Seattle to Portland, in which our group of riders cycled to remember our friend, and to raise awareness and financial support for Wellspring in Ben’s honour. Including that inaugural year, I have ridden from Seattle to Portland six times with Wellspring.

Why Lake2Lake?

Over these years of involvement, I developed a love for cycling, and so was very excited to hear that Wellspring was planning to host their own ride here in BC. I had always wanted to cycle in the Okanagan, and Lake2Lake provided both the opportunity to ride through some beautiful scenic areas, and to support Wellspring’s work in Rwanda. I have taken part in Lake2Lake twice now as a rider, and once as a volunteer when an injury prevented me from cycling. This event is a fantastic opportunity to spend a weekend riding while sharing the experience with friends, and meeting new people. For me, Lake2Lake is a very stress-free weekend, as the only thing I need to worry about is riding. The volunteers take excellent care of the riders both on the road and at the camp once the first day of riding is completed. All details are taken care of, and so it really feels like a weekend getaway, filled with camaraderie and fun!

One of my favourite things about Lake2Lake is seeing the variety of people who take part . Some riders show up on mountain bikes, having only ridden a handful of times, but choosing to bike this distance because they believe in the cause they are supporting. Other riders don’t know much about Wellspring, but love cycling and being on the open road. These individuals participate in the ride and are introduced to Wellspring throughout the weekend. Whether you are an experienced biker, or new to the sport, you are welcome to be part of this amazing event!

I hope you will come and join us for this year’s ride, and help make a difference in the lives of students, teachers, and entire communities in Rwanda!

The Lake2Lake is a two-day fully supported ride from Vernon to Eagle Bay, in BC’s Okanagan/Shuswap, and takes place on September 20–21. Riders are welcome to participate as individuals or as part of a team of four, and those who fundraise may be eligible for a free jersey or ride registration. In addition, volunteers and riders who fundraise a minimum of $1200 will be entered into a draw for a trip for two to Rwanda.

Join us for the Lake2Lake

Teachers Take Action To Become Agents Of Change

As the sun rises over the mountainous horizon, silhouettes of students can be traced against the rising sun as they walk to school from every direction.

It’s 6a.m. and the morning bell won’t ring for almost two hours, but a handful of teachers gather in a class full of students to offer them extra help from 6-7a.m., Monday-Friday.

Rwankuba Primary School was recently constructed and opened. Located in a poorly serviced farming community, it was built in an effort to provide education to students who previously didn’t have access to a school because of their rural location.

When the school opened its doors, the student demographic surprised teachers. Many of the students starting school for the first time were between 12-15 years old. While most P.1 teachers struggle to teach basic behavioral skills to their new students, Rwankuba’s teachers were faced with overwhelming challenges. Many students were addicted to drugs and alcohol, female students were becoming pregnant or leaving school to make money in prostitution and many students wanted to quit school.

Our quality education trainers are training five of the nine teachers at Rwankuba. As they’ve learned how to implement values into their daily lessons and realized the worth of each student, they collectively decided to help these students reach their potential rather than just harshly punishing them.

The head teacher, who says she used to lead like a dictator, says that it’s the unity within the teachers that makes them effective agents for transformation.

“When you are at the school you see the teachers are like a family. It’s a small family, but they all have good relationships,” she says.

When teachers realized that students who were dealing with addictions were dropping out of school to look for jobs and many female students were becoming pregnant, they decided to take action.

With help from parents, teachers decided to start a bi-weekly after school program for students dealing with addictions. Through dramas, skits and books, students are learning about the effects of drugs and gaining support as they seek to break free from addictions in a non-judgmental environment.

Since the program’s initiation, along with extra help in the mornings, teachers have seen a significant drop in student absenteeism and dropouts. In the last year, there have been fewer pregnancies and many students who previously left school to seek employment have returned in pursuit of education.

“We see the importance of each student and we know we can help them succeed at school and in life,” says the head teacher.

Your support helps equip teachers

Building Foundations with ABCD

When Christine, a teacher at Gasabo Primary, went to work each morning she left her five-year-old daughter home alone.

During the day, Christine worried about her daughter and the other children who wandered aimlessly around the community while their siblings went to school and their parents were in the field or at work.

Christine began envisioning a pre-primary program to provide childcare for these children.

With no available government funding, she summoned the parents and asked them to contribute funds to hire a part-time caretaker for the children. The parents agreed and hired a woman to care for the children in an empty room at the school.

They soon realized their efforts would be more worthwhile if their children could gain skills and knowledge to prepare them for P.1.

Juvenal, a retired primary teacher, was the perfect candidate. He offered to teach as a volunteer, but the parents insisted on paying him a modest weekly stipend.

“I was sitting at home doing nothing,” says Juvenal. “It’s good for me if I can help the children from my society and community.”

In 2013, our quality education trainers began working at Gasabo Primary. Rachel, our Education Sector Project Manager, realized Juvenal was not trained to teach nursery aged children. His methods were too advanced for young children to grasp and he struggled to manage their behavior.

Nonetheless, Rachel could see his potential and was devoted to training him.

“Education is crucial at that early age. If you have the opportunity to teach the small ones, there’s no point in waiting until they’re grown to teach them values and skills. When you teach a child, they will form good habits early on,” explains Rachel.

Rachel and the trainers used a proactive approach as she helped train Juvenal in teaching nursery-aged children.

Through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), our trainers equipped parents to support their children at home and at school.  Parents have donated money for classroom materials and floor mats for story time, while others brought porridge to feed the children and wood and water to prepare the food.

Initially, Juvenal was skeptical about the training and didn’t believe young children could sit still for more than a minute, let alone learn. However, his teaching methods immediately began to reflect the training he was receiving. He was implementing values, using teaching aids and encouraging active participation in his lessons.  Students became more engaged and attentive.

“Now the class and I are also going to change. We have seen that with the training it is possible to have a great classroom.”

Today, more than 20 pre-primary aged students sit attentively on their reading mat, huddled around Juvenal. He asks what unity means to each child. Many hands shoot into the air and Juvenal calls on a female student.

“My mom told me that we’re all made the same. I might look like my dad and you may look like your mom or your sister, but inside we’re all the same,” she answered in Kinyarwanda, proving that deep learning starts at a young age.

Help Equip Teachers & Parents at Gasabo

 

Hope: Rwanda’s New Story

Twenty years on, a new story is being written in Rwanda …

2014 marks the twenty year anniversary of the devastating genocide that robbed Rwanda of as many as one million of its men, women and children, and over the past few months the world’s attention once again turned to the unbelievable horrors that took place there. A student at university in Scotland at the time, I knew little of the horrific events that were unfolding 4,000 miles away. Nor did I anticipate the ways in which my own story would one day intersect with the incredible story of this small, beautiful African nation.

During this time of remembrance, the people of Rwanda have taken time to reflect – they have remembered those who were lost, they have remembered the painful journey beyond 1994 – but this has also been an opportunity to reflect on the new story that is being written in their country. It is a story of healing, reconciliation, redemption … and incredible hope.

When I first visited Rwanda in 2004, as a graduate student from Vancouver, I experienced a country in mourning, a country whose identity was defined by the tragedy experienced only ten years before. There were seeds of hope everywhere, and I was constantly inspired by the joy and selfless love of many people I met there. Yet the sadness lingered, and the weight of the recent past hung heavily over the country.

In February 2014, I had the privilege of returning, but this time with a renewed sense of expectation and curiosity. So much has been written and spoken of Rwanda’s economic progress, of the development of infrastructure, that I was eager to see this change. What I had not anticipated was how the focus of the country’s energy and passion was shifting. There was a sense of hope, and of forward motion; a sense of a new identity being formed.

I returned to Rwanda as a staff member with The Wellspring Foundation for Education, a non-profit organization committed to empowering Rwanda’s next generation through quality education. Based in Kigali, with a support office here in BC, Wellspring staff work alongside school leaders, teachers and parents in 48 Rwandan public schools, equipping them to create a learning environment in which the 70,000+ children in these schools can thrive and fulfil their potential. For ten years now, Wellspring has had the privilege of seeing first-hand how education has the power to change lives, and change the direction of a nation.

As I walked into one of these 48 schools in February, the excitement and hope was tangible. For each student, the genocide is a part of their country’s history, but it no longer defines them, just as it no longer defines Rwanda. Once a tool used to create division, education is now providing children with a new way of understanding themselves, their neighbours and their country.

A new story is being written in Rwandan schools, and a new story is being written in lives across Rwanda. Towards the end of my trip, our team had the privilege of visiting The Village of Hope, a community of 35 homes outside Kigali built in 2005 for widows and orphans of the genocide. These women were given employment through the development of an agribusiness that produces high quality essential oils, as well as homes and a support structure in which to raise their families and rebuild their lives. As they shared with us about their experience over the past decade, I realized that they were no longer defined by their status as “widows.” Their experience of restored dignity, renewed purpose, and hope for the future echoed the longing and the journey of a nation.

It is my hope that Rwanda’s legacy will one day be of genuine transformation – of individual lives, communities, and of the nation as a whole. I dream with the courageous, hopeful people of Rwanda that one day the rest of the world would hear the country’s name and be inspired by the new story that is being written.

Be a part of Rwanda’s New Story

Our School Was Really Fighting To Stay Alive

A few years ago, the principal of Gatsata Primary School couldn’t believe that stories of transformation would ever arise from within her school.

The school, of 750 students, is located on the outskirts of Kigali in an impoverished, densely populated and high-traffic area.

For many years, the school was marked by the challenges it faced.

Over 30 per cent of the student body comes from single parent families and or child headed families. Each day, 30 per cent of the students were absent, 20 per cent of students would come to school without eating and 10 per cent of the female students left school to look for money in prostitution. With the country’s main bus park only kilometres from the school, prostitution and drug use became pressing issues.

Today, she’s singing a different tune.

A few years ago, Gatsata teachers started receiving training from Wellspring’s quality education trainers. The principal, who’s always had a visionary heart and strong leadership qualities, immediately saw the potential of her school and fostered a culture of learning within the teachers.

With all of the teachers eagerly desiring to grow, the principal held meetings and workshops for all teachers. As they grew in their confidence and desire to teach, they began to reap the harvest from the seeds they were sewing.

By the end of the year, not a single student dropped out of school and most of primary 6 students passed their national exam; previously, only a handful of students who would pass.

Many of the female students who left the school to find money in prostitution have returned to school in pursuit of quality education.

At the core of the transformation have been the parents. Together with the teachers, they discuss the importance of their children’s education and help equip their children at home.

On their own incentive, the parents, most of whom are financially impoverished, have pooled their money to increase each teacher’s monthly salary by 50 percent! They’ve also provided money and labor to renovate the school–classrooms, windows, doors, and a playground.

“Our school was really fighting to stay alive, but now we see how much life and potential we have!” says the principal.

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A Love For Learning Emerges From Healthy Homes

Recently two of our staff members, Stéphane and Vedaste, travelled to a rural community two and a half hours north of Kigali. They were representatives for a group Wellspring chairs called, the Rwandan Education NGO Coordination Platform (RENCP).

The purpose of the visit was to join with other RENCP members and organizations to observe how parents are fostering a culture of literacy and reading in their children.

With sprawling hills and lush green fields providing a backdrop, parents and community members welcomed the visitors with song and dance as they prepared for the meeting.

“When we opened the discussion, I was amazed to see that many people at the meeting were farmers with no formal education; they are the disadvantaged people of society. It was astonishing to see how these people had a real passion to see a reading culture established,” shared Stéphane.

In past years, only wives would attend such meetings, but on this occasion couples attended together.

“They were really happy and engaging. What surprised me the most was to see how they were dealing with matters from their inner hearts,” said Vedsate.

Vedaste also said that although the conversation about academics and literacy was remarkable, it was the emphasis placed on the family unit that was profound.

“It’s not only about developing intellectually, but also developing healthy family relationships. Families are learning how to relate with one another. It wasn’t about parents forcing their children to read, but it was about family rehabilitation and restoration. Quality education and a love for learning emerge from healthy homes.”

Parents shared their innovative ideas for engaging their children in learning as a means of providing fun and education outlets for their children. Most impressive was a makeshift “television” designed by one of the parents. Using flipbook animation, children learned how to draw and associate words with pictures in a creative way.

“It was an amazing day to see parents engaged and to see people of all levels, from parents to sector leaders, working in unity,” said Vedaste. ”In Rwanda, we haven’t had a culture of reading, but that is beginning to change!”

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Ready To Call It Quits

After more than 10 years of teaching primary school, Anselme was ready to call it quits.

He was burnt out and losing his desire to teach.

“I followed the “chalk and talk” method,” admits Anselme. “I talked and wrote on the board, I ignored my students. I didn’t think they were smart enough to gain knowledge.”

His mindset began to radically shift more than two years ago when he and his colleagues at Cyuga Primary School started receiving training from our quality education trainers.

Feeling weary, Anselme was open to the training and clung to all of the methods the trainers taught.

He says the lesson planning and teaching methods have transformed the way he teaches. He now recognizes there are different levels of learners in his class and he seeks to help them as individuals.

“My students now see me as a friend and not an enemy. They trust me and I trust them.”

He’s also started using teaching aids, using local materials, such as stones, bottle caps, and rice sacks, to engage his students.

“Since receiving training from Wellspring my work is well done!”

When asked if he considers changing careers, his enthusiasm couldn’t be contained.

“Never!” he said. “My heart is happy teaching. The training I’ve received has changed me. I’ve learned qualities to help me guide and teach learners.”

 

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Martine: Wellspring Academy Principal

Although Martine had a decorated resume, it was her desire to serve that made her the perfect candidate to be the principal at The Wellspring Academy. Martine has degrees in sciences, languages, and business and she has worked in each of those fields. She taught at the primary and post-secondary level. She worked in the National Bank of Rwanda and was a project manager for various government initiatives. In 2012 Martine was ready for a career change and was hired at the academy’s principal. She felt unqualified to lead 570 students and almost 50 teachers. She remembers saying to a colleague, “’I’m good with papers not people!” I immediately felt convicted when I realized that Jesus didn’t die for papers.” Since that realization, Martine has aimed to sew into the lives of each person on campus. She wants an already strong Christian school to become a superb school.

“I thank God to be entrusted to this extent. I have a serious mission to work with these precious people, so the plan God has for their lives can be fulfilled…The work we’re doing is a sustainable work for this life and also for the life to come. When you think about eternity, you become motivated to invest in the lives’ of people.”

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A Time for Transformation

It didn’t take long. Having your heart captivated by Rwanda never does …

Each participant in Wellspring’s 2014 Vision Trip stepped off the plane in the beautiful, humid city of Kigali with different expectations, and different hopes. But each one of us – from young students to retired couples and everyone in between; whether staff members or supporters – came trusting that this trip would prove to be exactly what was promised: A Time for Transformation. And it truly was. As we immersed ourselves in the life of a nation that is being rebuilt, restored and reconciled, we also saw our own hearts and minds change. That was Rwanda’s gift to us.

As a group, we took time early in the trip to understand the country’s history, which gave context to so much of what we experienced there. Having a clearer picture of Rwanda’s past, both ancient and modern, also set the stage for understanding the critical importance of education in guiding the nation into a very different future. Education, once a tool used to create division among a previously united people, is now being transformed into a means of promoting unity and hope. This is where Wellspring comes in.

For me, the greatest privilege of this trip was to see the impact of Wellspring’s work first-hand, and to meet the people who make it all happen. The Wellspring staff in Rwanda love their country deeply, they love the people they serve, and they love the God who has called them to join in His work of redemption and restoration. Each person reflects so much joy as they go about their work, and it was truly infectious to be around them!

In a future post, I will share more detail about this work, and how we were each impacted as we experienced the difference Wellspring is making in communities, schools and individual lives in Rwanda. For now, I want to return to the Vision Trip’s theme, “A Time For Transformation,” and share what this meant for some of our team members …

“I now see that healing and reconciliation is possible. It is happening in Rwanda, and I now have greater hope that it is possible in Canada.”

“I have seen how Wellspring Academy’s motto, “Not To Be Served, But To Serve,” is modeled in the lives of staff.”

“Wellspring has created a culture of love, honour and respect, that is being experienced by all who are involved and impacted by our work. This is central to all we do – in Rwanda, and in Canada.”

“I have come to understand the importance and value of listening. Before we try to make an impact, we need to really hear what people’s needs are, and approach people with a servant’s heart.”

“I have been challenged to be grateful, to grumble less, and to see the blessings in my life for what they are.”

“I realize how often we take education for granted, when so many people have to fight for it.”

“From now on, I will define success differently.”

“Rwanda has been on my heart for many years, but I came here afraid that God wouldn’t have a place for me here. But I realize that I am here for a reason, and that I do have something to give.”

Hope … Servant Hearts … Love and Respect … Vibrant Faith … Vision … Redemption … Community … Humility

These words sum up beautifully both what we experienced in Rwanda, and what we experienced as we engaged with the life and work of The Wellspring Foundation. The organization’s culture is based on these values, and it is such a privilege to be part of this. Wellspring believes that when people around the world partner together to bring change, the transformation that can take place goes both ways. I, along with my 21 fellow travellers, can testify that this is true.

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