News from Rwanda, October 2022

Celebrating the opening of The Alivera Village

Last month, Rwanda Action’s staff and the community involved in our disability programme invited guests to the opening ceremony of The Alivera Village. This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the children and young people who are part of our programme. The Village was the vision of our Founder, David Chaplin, and despite restrictions due to Covid, we managed to complete the construction and welcome its first residents before his retirement earlier this year.

The Alivera Project is based in Nyamasheke district. It comprises The Alivera Centre (TAC), which enables children to access education and provides outreach training to parents and members of the wider community. Adjoining TAC is The Alivera Village (TAV), which provides work experience and training for young people with disabilities in workshops, which are run by local independent enterprise groups and cooperatives. We also work closely with the local primary school in Ntendezi, where some children attend mainstream classes and others learn in the Semi Inclusive Learning Unit (SILU). This was set up to ease children into mainstream classes, although we find that most of these children are better suited to vocational training once they are old enough.

Cutting the ribbon

Entertainment at the opening ceremony was provided by former street children from our centre in Rusizi, who have been learning traditional drumming and dancing, and children and young adults from The Alivera Project, who performed a sketch. In Rwanda speeches are always enjoyed and at the ceremony, these were delivered by Rwanda Action staff, local leaders and there were powerful testimonials from current and former beneficiaries.

Dance troupe of former street children

The Alivera Village is proving to be a powerful tool in changing attitudes towards disability. Businesses are open to customers and visitors from the local community and also travellers from further afield, given the Village’s position on the main road. Some local people were uncertain about the concept when it opened but have been impressed by the talents of the workers and trainees.

Some of the trainees and apprentices

The children returned to The Alivera Centre at the end of September after the long school holidays. Four of the children have graduated and will be either going to boarding school or training at The Alivera Village.

Through training together, parents gain a better understanding of their children’s needs and ways to support them in their learning and development. They also gain support from each other. There was a three-day residential course held in June, for 18 parents of deaf children. We will offer this training to more parents in the coming academic year with one residential course per term.

Building Communities

Our Building Communities project is also making great progress in Kinyaga, where we are working with the community to reduce poverty. Five associations of farmers have been formed and ten members of each group have been trained in organic farming techniques, livestock and managing money. Rwanda Action provided each member with a goat and this has helped to fertilise the land we have rented for each group. With land preparations complete, the seeds will be planted this month. Farmers have also started to breed their goats. Members of the associations contribute a small amount of money each month and this is used to help any members in need, for example to pay school costs at this time of year.

The two school kitchen gardens we established in Kinyaga have had a fruitful first year and are ready for the next crop. The vegetables grown are used to provide lunches for students. Both of these schools have also benefited from our teacher training and mentoring programme.

We have begun working with five newly formed enterprise groups in Kinyaga, which have been created to set up their own businesses in tailoring, shoemaking, hairdressing and welding. We are renting premises and paying trainers to work with them for six months. Rwanda Action will provide the equipment and materials needed to get started, and training in business skills. This has been made possible thanks to funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The former street children living close to our office in Kamembe continue to come to our Saturday club where they are coached in schoolwork and given counselling, alongside a good meal, sports, games, music and dancing. All 20 members are now attending school regularly and seem settled in their families.

Farming Training

We are now basing our farming training at the new farm at The Alivera Village. We are recruiting a farm manager, who will teach our current three resident trainees who are gaining knowledge of preparing land and growing crops and fodder, developing compost and managing the kitchen garden near the cafe.

Trainees have created a kitchen garden

We have also started rearing goats in order to:

  • Breed local crossbred dairy goats for milk and meat, to supply The Alivera Project
  • Train young people with disabilities and local farming associations in animal husbandry
  • Provide advice and breeding recording services to local farmers
  • Provide a dairy buck breeding service for local does to enable more farmers to own animals for milk.

We have two Sanaan bucks which will be crossed with local does to produce kids which are resilient to local climate and diseases. Our trainees are learning to care for the goats.

Education

Our Education team has been preparing for the new school year, in particular producing formative assessments for the students in Primary 4, 5 and 6 to sit at the beginning of the academic year. The results of these can inform teachers’ planning of lessons and will show the progress of schools in our Learning Initiative programme.

We are relieved that there are now very few cases of Covid reported in Rwanda and no deaths for some months. This gives us more confidence in planning our work and setting targets.

A final photograph of the opening ceremony at The Alivera Village, led by our new CEO, Robbie Macmillan, seated to the left of centre and wearing a white shirt.

Formerly Rwanda Aid, we are a charity that is empowering communities to reduce poverty in Rwanda

  • Follow us for updates
Sign up to our newsletter