Noreen Barbe, Adolphine Mukamanzi, and Marie Ntaganda’s lives changed forever after a trip to Rwanda in 2011. They stopped to visit the village of Kavumu and learned that the children there were travelling two hours to get to school. This was arduous, especially for the younger children. When the children returned at the end of the day they were hungry and tired, but still had chores to do, which was discouraging to the many that tried to balance education with other duties.
Determined to do something about the situation, Barbe, Mukamanzi, Ntaganda, along with co-founder Nicholas Ntaganda launched Inzira y’Urumuri - Le chemin de la lumière, an ongoing initiative to build classrooms in the village of Kavumu. To date enough money has been raised to build three kindergarten classrooms and enroll more than 100 local students.
Adolphine is pleased to reveal, “We have now started the contract for three additional classrooms for grade 1-3. We aim to finish this construction by May. If we are able to raise more money than the goal we currently have, we will proceed with classrooms for grades 4-6.”
For Nicholas, who began his journey with the initiative during his high school years, the experience has been transformative. He’s been responsible for helping recruit volunteers and spearheading fundraisers.
“Education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty,” says Nicholas. “If I can be part of that for one person, let alone a whole village of children, that is astounding. I think we all have an obligation to make the kind of change you want to see in the world, to help each other out, and make sure people have the tools they need to get to where they want to go.”
Adolphine says, “Helping others is in my nature. I find satisfaction in that I can help someone have a better day or better life. Education is something that not only helps a child, but the whole village and the whole community.”
With COVID upending their in-person fundraisers, the initiative has turned to a virtual format with a fundraiser called One Brick at a Time. This fundraiser allows anyone to buy one (or more) brick(s) to help support the school’s construction and growth.
“We’ve issued a #buyabrick challenge, says Nicholas. A brick is just $5. Once you have bought your brick(s), put it on social media using the hashtag and challenge others to do the same. If you make a donation of $20+, you get a tax receipt.”
He continues, “We do realize that these are tough times and not everyone can make a donation – but you can still get involved. You can still challenge friends and follow our Facebook page to stay updated on what we are doing.”
Adolphine adds, “Help spread the word on social media, or if you know someone looking for volunteer hours, have them get in touch with us. There are lots of opportunities including sharing your social medial or digital skills, helping organize events, business sponsorships, French/English translations, and more.”
Adolphine, Nicholas and all the Board members thank their volunteers and donors “from the bottom of our hearts.” They are also grateful to their sponsors: Collège Boréal, Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario, Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvelon, FEÉSO 57.
“The school is only made possible by the donors and volunteers. It took a lot of people to organize events and work on the ongoing construction. Thank you to everyone who makes this possible. What you have done has a profound effect on these children’s futures.”