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Education Works Wonders!
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 Written by fra Ivica Perić

Brigite MuzigabakaziIn addition to the existing Padri Vjeko Center vocational school, where young people from our parish have been taught in various trades for years, our mission in the Rwandan village of Kivumu has embraced another great goal – the construction of a secondary school which would be something like a general high school (a grammar school).

This plan of ours is – by Rwandan standards – quite big because, according to the project documentation, the planned compound would be able to hold as many as nine hundred students.

It would mean a great deal for the young people of our parish, because education is the only potential way out of poverty for them. In Kivumu, every year around six hundred students complete their primary school education.

Almost ninety-nine percent of those are unable to continue their schooling, because one year in the secondary school costs around 300 euro, which for them is both unimaginable and unattainable. So, many children, after finishing sixth grade – primary education in Rwanda lasts six years – are left without any opportunity to expand their knowledge, improve, and keep pace with young people from other parts of the world. And what happens? Unfortunately, many end up on the other side of ethics and law. They take to crime and prostitution. And we all know that is a situation which is hard to escape...

Our vocational school, in which young people are trained to be tailors, carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, and welders, has shown that children here are eager to acquire new knowledge and skills. We only have to make it possible for them. We have so many bright examples among our former students. The fact that more than ninety percent of our students find employment after finishing our vocational school is a source of great pride for us. It encourages us and gives us hope that the same good results will be achieved with a classic secondary school.

Among our former students are Brigite Muzigabakazi and Anathali Dusabeyezu. Both of them are now teachers, permanently employed and, by Rwandan circumstances, very well situated.

Brigite is from our village of Kivumu, born in 1988 in a large family. In a small house near our church, she grew up together with five siblings. They were raised by their mother, because their father passed away while they were still young. Brigite learned the tailor’s trade in our school, and was an excellent student. She often used to tell us how grateful she was for the opportunity she received. You see, any type of further education was an unattainable dream for her. At least she thought so. We admitted her into our vocational school and immediately after her graduation in 2005, we employed her in our school workshop. She made all sorts of clothes which were then sold in order to obtain money for new materials needed for the school’s students’ sewing samples.

Then the nuns in a nearby parish announced a job opening for a tailoring teacher in their school, so we immediately suggested Brigite. She got the job at once and, since 2008, she has been working in the school run by the nuns. There are three more teachers there, but Brigite did so well in this new job and was so open to acquiring new knowledge and skills that she was put in charge of the entire department. Today she runs a teaching program for forty-five students together with its production division.

We often pay her a visit in order to make sure everything is fine and to see how she is progressing in her job. Both we and our Brigite are more than satisfied. She says her life has completely changed... in a positive direction, of course. She is now the one who is taking care of her mother and siblings. She completely renovated the family house – repaired the roof, put in new windows and doors, and redid the floors in the house.

A few days ago we went to visit her again, and she was so happy to see us, and she told us she felt like a member of our family, because we hadn’t forgotten her and still care about her advancement.

Anathali’s family story is even more difficult. Her mother never married. Anathali has three brothers, but none of them knows who their father/or fathers are. They grew up in our parish, in the village of Mpushi, a few kilometers away from Kivumu. After finishing primary school, Anathali faced a very real threat. In such families girls are often ‘sold’ to other families as future brides, or are simply thrown into the terrible grindstone of prostitution.

But, the clever-minded girl got to our school. She came to us and told us she wanted to learn... that she longed for knowledge. And that one day she wanted to have an honest job and a decent living. We took her in wholeheartedly, and she immediately became one of our best students.

She, too, completed the tailoring course. After finishing education in our school in 2007, she set off to work in a school run by nuns in Masaki near the capital of Kigali. To our great joy, in 2010 she got a job in a state school where she is in charge of the entire tailoring department. She is also responsible for the students’ dormatory in the school.

Today, Anathali is a content young woman. She supports her mother and her youngest brother with her salary. Her life is heading in a more positive direction. I often think of how she could have ended up...

There you have it - these examples are the answer to the question, “why we are trying so hard to build a secondary school”? ... because Education Works Wonders! And that’s why the youth should be given a chance...

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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