Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Baskets

Building partnerships is a wonderful aspect of the mission in Rwanda. Bringing children together and teachers together. For over a year, The Child Care Center at Hort Woods on the Penn State campus has been "Picture Pals" with a class at the Cyakabiri Preschool in Rwanda. They have shared drawings and stories about themselves as well as compared what is the same and what is different in their classrooms.

Most recently they are comparing baskets that are unique to their geographic regions. Each are hand-made and have stories to share. The Rwanda basket, given at weddings filled with beans or rice represents Sharing, Saving and Solidarity. The apple basket, made by a local artisan in Pennsylvania, is made of maple and ash. The children visited trees on the campus to have their photos taken and picked leaves to press then sent to Rwanda with me. Booklets were made using photographs to show how each of the baskets were made.

In August I took 7 Rwandan preschool teachers and 9 teens from Urukundo to see this demonstration by a woman basket maker. For many it was the first time they had seen someone in their own country make the baskets. Learning continues to open new horizons across the world.

Conversations and observations will continue as children compare these baskets. What they are used for, trees and fruit in each country and stories of those that make the baskets.

What is next? Handmade musical instruments.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Primary School

Thank you for being patient while I took a break from my Blog. It has been a busy fall as I was making many new connections with schools, local organizations, individuals and churches. Did I say I was "retired"? Now I am writing again to share with you all the blessings. Blogs that will lead up to my next trip in March 2013.

When our team left Rwanda in September, the new primary school was still in the early stages of construction with walls going up. Our team committed to sponsoring one of the 3 classrooms and have almost reached our goal. Now it is nearing completion for the January start of school.

Desks and chairs for the 80 students are being made in Rwanda. I thank the many groups and individuals that are stepping up to help purchase these as well as bookcases and storage cabinets. Soon these desks will be full of excited, smiling children, ready to learn.

Who are these children? The recent graduates, 6 year olds from the Cyakabiri Preschool. Children that have been in school for a year because many in the US have supported Mama Arlene's vision for education. Luki and Claude, from the Urukundo Children's Home, are best friends and ready to meet new educational challenges.

Photos of the first day of school in mid-January will be posted! So check back!

My next blog will feature school and classroom to classroom partnerships called "picture pals".