Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What you've all been waiting for...

I finally made it up to visit the new and improved library at G.S.Kiruli, and boy was I amazed by what I saw!  Not only was the library organized and user-friendly, it was huge!  It really is amazing how proper storage can open up a space.  When I walked into the library I couldn't believe that all of the books were there!  It was so open and only about half of the shelves were full. Although, I quickly realized that, sure enough, the books were all accounted for.  With proper shelving, there is now room for more than twice as many books as before- it's fantastic!

It was a Saturday morning when I visited, and I only stayed at the school for an hour or so.  In that time I talked to a student that I have known well these past 2 years- Janvier.  He is now in Senior 3 (the last class at this school) and he said that he loves the library.  He is a serious student and his English has gotten quite good as his studies have progressed.  Janvier told me that he thought the improvements made to the library were really helpful and that it is now easier for everyone to use.  

The headmaster pulled me aside and asked me to be his photographer for a moment.  There was a small group of students due to receive shoes and bags from the school, and the headmaster wanted some photo documentation.  These primary (elementary) students come from extremely poor families and chronically have problems finding proper supplies for school (including shoes and clothes) so the school/ local government decided to step in and help them out.  When I came to take photos it made them feel special, but they knew me so it wasn't something so strange.  These are the kids I would talk to in the road every day.  The kids I would playfully chase away from my classroom windows mid-lesson. I've included a photo here so you can see how happy these little munchkins were that morning.

I have great confidence in the future of the library.  I think that Jimmy is taking great care of it and that the shelves will fill up (possibly with the help of the new volunteer- Taylor Harveycutter) and that students and teachers will benefit immensely.  If you were to go into an average school that has not had the benefit of a volunteer (more specifically, a volunteer with willing colleagues and generous friends) you would likely find boxes of books sitting in the head office, still packed from the ministry.  So the fact that now G.S.Kiruli has a nice, functioning library really is something!  I'm so happy that I've been able to see this project reach the goals we set and I feel very lucky that I was able to help in the accomplishment.  Jimmy and I had a fun time with the project, and even the headmaster enjoyed drawing up different designs and helping with measurements and other logistics.  Taylor is hoping to find a way to get more books for the teachers and students, and those same students and teachers are learning that working together and combining various talents can breed great results! 

I hope you enjoy the photos and the update, and please let me know if you have any questions!


Site visit photos!

Student readers

Secondary textbooks

Primary textbooks

More Primary textbooks

The current support staff! (From left: Taylor, Jimmy and the Headmaster)

Allison and Jimmy- the old team

New shoes and bags provide plenty of smiles

A beautiful, healthy, new baby boy and his happy, new father.  Jimmy and baby Yannick. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Straight on to November

Thank you.  Thank you to those who donated, thank you to those who shared LIP information with friends and colleagues and thank you to those who “liked” my blog posts and videos and pictures on facebook. 

The time for donations has come to a close and I can happily share with you that we have a total of $1,503.  We did not get entirely as far as we wanted, but that’s the only half-complaint you’ll hear from me!  With this 1.5k we’ll be able to do almost everything we want to do!  Also, folks at the school have pledged to raise the rest of the money by way of the PTA and school funds from the gov’t, so we may just get to where we need to go. 

What will we do now?  Well, as soon as possible, we will begin building the Library shelves!  A carpenter will come and build them on-site, and I have no idea how long he plans to take to complete the project.  I hope it’s no more than two weeks, but I have also learned not to hope too hard when it comes to things like this.  The job will get done and it will be well done.  I will be supervising every step of the way, and I’ll hopefully paint the shelves with inspiring, bright hues before it’s all said and done. 

After the construction of all shelves is complete, I will help organize all books and get them to their new homes.  We will do another inventory of the books and arrange the system so that it is easy for Jimmy, the Librarian, to use and maintain.

What have I learned so far? 
  •            My school really is deserving of such a “facelift” and all of the staff I’ve been working with are eager to work and thankful to be able to.  I know that this sort of project is going to greatly benefit the school
  •             Fundraising is difficult! So, to those of you who did donate, thanks again!
  •       With enough patience you can accomplish almost anything on the internet, even from East Africa.
  •       I have some great people in my life, both near to me and far, and without them, this project would (quite literally) never have been made possible.

young Primary students crowding around the Library door

Some of the best Kindergarteners this gal will ever meet.

Kids getting enthusiastic

Beautiful young ladies of G.S. Kiruli

Be on the lookout for more posts updating you on the LIP progress.
Have a great day and, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Donation Deadline Extension!

Wow! Since my last blog entry our total raised has climbed to $1,417! This is FANTASTIC folks.  I never thought we could get this far, and seeing that we're SO close to where we want to be, I've extended the donation deadline through this weekend.

That's right, you have until Monday, November 5th to get your donation in!  I know a few people have expressed interest and the desire to donate, but have not yet been able.  To those lovely friends, here's your chance!

Remember, I'll be rounding up some excellent students to write personal thank you letters to each and every person who donated.  I'm also toying with the idea of including a photo or two with each letter so you have some small thank you from all of us here.  Let's say, it's going to be a surprise, and one that's coming your way right around Christmas/ Chanukah time.  There will also be another video or two made before this thing is all said and done, so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

Since we started this entry talking about donations, let's end full-circle.  We are less than $600 away from our dream budget, but the better news is that we're less than $200 away from our "bare-minimun" budget.  I am sure that we can get $200 more over the next three days- what do you think?

All of the Primary School books, stored in the back until our new shelves arrive!

Taking a break (from lugging around dirty, heavy books) with my favorite Kindergarteners. 

Sorry for the low photo quality.  Sometimes the connectivity out here dictates what I do.  Wait, did I say "sometimes?" I mean ALL the time.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One More Week!

Here at LIP we are approaching the final stretch.  Only one week left to make a LIP donation.  But LIP isn't the only thing over here that's nearing the end.

My intake group and I just celebrated our two year anniversary in Rwanda!  We arrived in Rwanda on October 21st, 2010 and now that we've hit two years, it's time for people to start returning to America.  I am one of the few volunteers (5 out of nearly 60) who has decided to stay in Rwanda to do a third year of Peace Corps service.

This means that I have to watch a significant chunk of my Peace Corps family move back to the other side of the world.  I also have to start saying goodbyes to the people in my village; the people I've lived and worked with for the past two years.  But I'm lucky that I'll be able to visit my village from time to time next year in order to check-up on people and projects.

It's true what RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) say about their service: the two years go by in a flash!

In preparation of my move from the village to Kigali, I am going to help make LIP a smashing success! Consider it my final hoo-rah.

Even though we've raised less than half of our target amount, we are going to work with what we've got and make magic happen.  If you want to get in a final donation, you are more than welcome to do so!  Even 5 or 10 dollars can help us- we certainly appreciate all support you're willing to give.  If you're not into the "donation of money" angle, but still wish to help us, let me know!  I'm sure that we can think of creative ways that you can aid us in our endeavors!

Our donation total is at $765 currently.  Our goal is $2,000.  Is it possible to raise the remaining $1,235 in the next week? ...You tell me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Debut of the official LIP video!

We never thought it was possible, and even now I feel like I may jinx us to say it, but- WE’VE GONE DIGITAL.  Yes, you’re right, having a blog means that we were digital to begin with, but now we’ve gone and made ourselves a video.  Living in a village means technology struggles.  It’s amazing that I can even get internet via my USB modem, but it crawls.  Half the time I can’t load html format g-mail, so uploading a video was OUT OF THE QUESTION.  However, I had some work to do in the capital on a Saturday morning, and lo and behold- I found a speedy connection.  Well, it was speedy enough to upload this video in about 2 hours…

What will you see in the video?  Well, I should say you must watch it to find out.  But, here’s what to expect: Rwandan students (ranging in age from 3 to 20 years), the librarian at G.S. Kiruli, limited footage of our current library, a view inside a Primary 2 (equivalent of America’s 2nd grade) classroom and more.  The video is less than four and a half minutes; so take a break form your demanding work, and catch a glimpse of Rwanda.

Also, feel free to give me your feedback! This is my first foray into video creation and it was quite fun! I plan to do this again in the future, so ‘tis the season to share your thoughts. 

Official LIP video