July 26, 2012 : By Drew Menard
|Liberty students contributed the bulk of the funds to construct this school building for unschooled children in Rwanda.|
The lives of many Rwandan children will change forever as 37 pre-school-age students attended school for the first time this month in a building funded by Liberty University’s Restore Rwanda campaign.
Liberty students contributed most of the $24,000 raised between February and April 2012, which was used to construct the building, furnish it, provide school supplies and uniforms for the children, and pay one-year salaries for a teacher, teacher’s aid, and a representative of the village who will walk the children to school each day.
The campaign was started after 19 students in Liberty’s counseling and psychology departments went to Kigali, Rwanda, on a 10-day mission trip in November 2011 and were burdened to further meet the needs of the people.
“Liberty, through the students that have visited Rwanda, has raised funds to provide education for the children of the widow survivors of the genocide of 1994,” said alumnus Cyrus Mad-Bondo (’06, M.B.A.), now Africa regional director for World Help. “Many of these mothers would never have been able to send their kids to school.”
World Help, a faith-based humanitarian organization, partners with Liberty on various mission trips. Its founder and president, Vernon Brewer, is the first graduate of Liberty.
Since Johnnie Moore, Liberty’s vice president for executive projects, visited Rwanda with World Help in 2010, Liberty students have taken three mission trips to the country, ministering to its people and providing counseling to victims and perpetrators of the genocide.
Five students, who had participated in the November mission trip, returned during Spring Break this year to dedicate the site and help kick off the project. At that time, $16,065 of the $24,000 goal had been met. In April, a charity walk called “A Walk to Remember Rwanda,” was held on campus to raise the funds to complete the project.
|Children attend school for the first time in the new classroom building.|
On July 2, children attended school for the first time in their new building. Mad-Bondo was there for the dedication.
“It is just an exciting experience to watch kids who have been unschooled for quite some time, and for the first time enter a classroom building,” he said. “For Liberty to provide a building that is going to be housing 37 children from the widow’s village, it’s a huge deal.”
The classroom building was built on the campus of Star School, in nearby Kigali, only a 30-minute walk from the widow’s village. It is the first pre-school building on the site, which will help with student retention at Star School, according to Mad-Bondo.
“The dropout rate for older (previously) unschooled children is quite high,” he said. “When these children enter school very early, they are likely to stay in school. These children can make life-altering decisions very quickly.”
He hopes that as the school continues to grow, more unschooled children in the community will be reached.
“Our prayer is that the Lord will provide funding to do two additional buildings like that to capture all those other children in that immediate surrounding area, giving them opportunity,” Mad-Bondo said.
Liberty has planned future trips to Rwanda in November 2012 and March 2013, to provide more humanitarian aid for the people. Further fundraising campaigns are being prayerfully considered by Liberty’s Center for Global Engagement.