“It’s overwhelming, but it is a huge blessing to serve this community.” This was how Sarah Damour felt on the first day of school registration for the 2022-2023 academic year at Hope Haven Rwanda.
It is imperative for students to have a sure foundation during their first years of school. As we evaluate older students with learning delays and work to create Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for them, we are frequently reminded of the value of a solid beginning for young learners.
Wendy White, an experienced educator and a consultant for Hope Haven, emphasized the importance of early childhood education. If the “building blocks” for mathematics are not grasped at the youngest levels, a student’s future will be filled with challenges.
When you consider the ramifications of extreme poverty, the future looks even more bleak for potential students in our community. They are saddled with poor nutrition, insecure living conditions and parents who may not value education at all. These factors, among others, are why the first three levels of study at Hope Haven Rwanda are critical.
But how does Hope Haven select new 3-year-old students each year when the need is so overwhelming?
And very carefully.
For several years, we have instituted a fair and transparent lottery process to select the most vulnerable students in our community for this first grade level. To qualify for the lottery, students must come from families in the lowest poverty categories, as defined and validated by the Rwandan government. Then they must complete a thorough registration process overseen by our education and social work teams. Finally, the random selection takes place on a soccer field with everyone watching.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog to see how the story unfolds. What will the response be when the names are drawn during our annual lottery?
You will also learn more about the 640 students who will study at the new Hope Haven Secondary School—there is so much excitement around campus!
In the meantime, I’d like to recognize Sarah and Leza from our US team who coordinated the entire registration and lottery process.
Our Headmaster Fred Karangwa, and Primary School Director, Emmanuel Nsengumuremyi, oversaw the registration and ensured that the children were registered at the correct level.
Finally, our Family Department, including Priscillah Kembabazi and Gilbert Abisinguza, managed all the interactions falling outside the scope of education—and there are always many unique cases!
Together, they make a solid team!
The registration and lottery process is arduous, and heart-breaking at times. As one of our volunteers recently noted, “There is not a shortage of intelligence, but there are shortages of opportunity.” We can’t meet every need, but we thank God that we are able to offer these students a brighter tomorrow!
Is God leading you to journey with us as we continue to offer a “hand up” in this community?