Tag Archives: Ineza Foundation

Reading in Kigali

An update from Rwanda

Before lockdown in Rwanda, our partner Ineza Foundation was using books you help to send to support community libraries across the country. This included five Children’s Corners that we have created together and our Voyager Container Library in Kigali, giving a whole community access to brand new books.

Lockdown has closed schools and libraries in Rwanda but Ineza Foundation are finding new ways to support the communities they work in.

Here, Ineza’s Elizabeth Mujawamaliya Johnson tells us more.

Voyager Container Library
Our Voyager Container Library in Kigali

What restrictions on normal life are being imposed because of Covid?

After the initial two-week lockdown on 21st March due, we received extensions twice until 30th April.

Now Rwanda is taking steps to ease the measures. Public transportation has resumed but with limitations, there is a curfew from 8pm to 5am, schools will remain closed until September and wearing facemasks in public is mandatory at all times.

Businesses have resumed work with essential staff while other employers continue to work from home. Markets are open for essential vendors and hotels and restaurants are now open but have to close by 7pm. Meetings in public spaces and mass gatherings are still prohibited.

Education has been affected greatly.

How is the lockdown affecting people’s lives in Rwanda?

The first challenge was lack of food, especially in Kigali and other cities because many people live on their daily incomes. If you work, you can provide a meal for your family, but if no work, then no basic sustenance.

Also since Rwandans are culturally social, it was hard to stay home and not meet friends and family. However, people have had to learn new ways of living, by sharing what they have and using the phone to communicate. The government and partners provided food and neighbours also share what they have to support the vulnerable.

School in Kigali
Schools in Rwanda are currently closed

How is the lockdown affecting children’s education?

Education has been affected greatly, but again people have had to adjust to the reality of what is happening.

The government has launched an eLearning platform using TV, phones, computers and radio. But children living in rural areas are unable to access some of these as they don’t have a TV, smartphone or computer. However, the use of the radio to provide lessons is perfect as it can reach every student everywhere in the country.

It is just the beginning and I believe that more platforms will be introduced to support children to continue their learning at home until schools resume.

We have focused on supporting our local readers and communities with food.

Do people often have books at home in Rwanda?

Rwandans are not readers and they do not have books at home. The first national/public library is less than 10 years old and a culture of reading is currently being introduced. We believe the work we are doing with Book Aid International – creating and equipping more community libraries – is a solution to create that culture though getting books in to the hands of readers.

Our library in Shyorongi … is going to be used for early childhood monitoring and support … This is a great opportunity to promote literacy by providing those new mums with new books to borrow.

How has your work changed since the lockdown?

During the past few weeks, we have focused on supporting our local readers and the communities with food distribution. Basically, we decided to focus on responding to  immediate needs and also following what the government was recommending.

Shyorongi library
Shyorongi library has been repurposed to support local new mums. Ineza Foundation hopes to lend books to them too

The libraries are still closed, but as of today, our library in Shyorongi in the Northern Province is going to be used by local community for early childhood monitoring and support. Basically, mothers with newborn babies and pregnant women will meet at the centre to receive food and to learn how to prepare complete meals for their babies. This is a great opportunity for Ineza Foundation to promote literacy by providing those new mums with books to borrow once a week, until the libraries are open again.

Here in Gisozi, we are continuing to sort books for future distributions.

We believe if we can get more books into the hands of children during lockdown, they will help further their learning.

Do you have any further plans in development?

Yes, we are working with local government officials exploring ways to use the books. We are looking at promoting take-home books distribution. We believe if we can get more books into the hands of children during lockdown, they will help further their learning. When the schools reopen, children will be able to share with their classmates about their reading at this time, they will be motivated to continue reading once back at school. Also, if we can get more books to children, parents will also read or children will read to their parents, therefore promoting the reading culture at all levels: young and adult.

The only challenge we have, is how to get these books to many children, taking into consideration the COVID restrictions. We are still having discussions; we do not want to act before approval from local government. Safety for the community comes first!

 

*The photos contained in this blog were taken before lockdown.

Voyager Container Library

Our first Voyager Container Library

Last year, books arrived in the community of Gasave in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in our very first Voyager Container Library!

In partnership with Ineza Foundation and Gisozi Sector Gasobo District Council we transformed a 40-foot shipping container into a thriving community library filled 5,000 brand new books in English and Kinyarwanda, giving local children and the wider community access to new books!

Check it out here:

We’d like to say a special thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting this project and making our first Voyager Container Library possible!

 

Reading together

The shipping container making writers of the future

Earlier this year, books arrived in the community of Gasave in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali in our very first Voyager Container Library!

The new library is housed in a repurposed shipping container, placed in a public park in Gasave.

We talked toElizabeth Mujawamariya Johnson from our partner Ineza Foundation to find out more about the new library and the difference it is making for local children.

Kigali scenery
Many families in Gasave live in six-by-four-metre homes

What is life like in Gasave?

Life in the city is not easy. The inequality is obvious. So here in Gasave, surrounding the library, people are quite wealthy but go down the hill just 500 metres and you will find families living in a six by four metre home.  They are labourers, cleaners or sell on the street. Most of them are making maximum two dollars a day.

School library
Many children in Rwanda have little access to books other than those used to support the curriculum in school

What is access to books like in Rwanda?

There are not many reading books here in Rwanda. The first public library here in Kigali is maybe seven years old. The government is working hard to supply curriculum books for schools but many people do not have enough income to buy books and there is a need of having extra resources for kids to use.

In order to be educated, if you are not a reader, it is hard.

In order to be educated, if you are not a reader, it is hard. Because whether you’re doing primary, secondary or high school, you need books. It’s part of the puzzle – there’s no way of finishing the puzzle without them.

Why did you decide to do a container library?

As a charity, we are trying to get books into the hands of kids – it is one of our visions. And with a container, if there is any community that has a space [for a container] then we can do a project.

What’s the library like?

It’s made in a 40 foot container and can sit around 50 kids. It’s in the setting of a public park. We transformed it, painted it, made shelves and it’s holding over 5,000 books in English and Kinyarwanda. It’s all covered so that when it rains, people are sheltered. It’s a reading environment that’s really attractive.

It’s a reading environment that’s really attractive.

What changes have you seen since the library came?

When we come here on the weekend, it’s packed. There are so many kids! It showed me that their hearts are just boiling for reading.

Busy library
The new Voyager Container Library is very popular!

Not only are kids coming and really having fun, they are all preparing for the national exams – they go inside and grab some of the books to get additional resources.

. . . their hearts are just boiling for reading.

Before the library was here, after school kids would go home and what do they do? Mum is probably out working, dad is not home and they end up starting bad behaviours cause there are no parents looking after them. But now they’re here reading and socialising.

Enjoying beautiful books in the Voyager Container Library

If there was no library for them, some of them wouldn’t be doing well in school. But they are doing their homework here, using the resources and there is a huge improvement in terms of grade – it goes up because of the resources. So giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

Giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

What are your hopes for the future of the children of Gasave?

The hope I see for these kids, I want to see them being the ones who are actually publishing books. In Rwanda, there’s not many books because in order to write, you need to read. If you don’t read, you can’t write. So if these kids continue to use this and other libraries, they’ll maybe be publishing their own books in the future. They can become those readers who have the zeal to say ‘I can write a book as well.’

 

We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting the first Voyager Container Library.

Voyager Container Library

Our first Voyager Container Library is open!

Earlier this year, in partnership with the Ineza Foundation and Gisozi Sector Gasobo District Council in Rwanda, we opened our very first Voyager Container Library!

The brand new library in Gasave, Kigali, is housed in a converted 40-foot shipping container, set in a public park in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

 

The transformation from container to library included painting eye-catching murals, adding a roof, veranda and outdoor seating in addition to shelves and filling it with over 5,000 brand new books in English and Kinyarwanda.

Rwanda does not have a public library network and many children’s only opportunity to read is often from old books at community libraries and curriculum books in school.

The books in the new Voyager Container Library are a vital new resource and the library is already incredibly popular with local children:

When we come here on the weekend, it’s packed. There are so many kids! They are doing their homework here, using the resources and there is a huge improvement in terms of grade. So giving them this library allows them to go to the next level so they can be the people they want to be.

– Elizabeth M Johnson, Ineza Foundation

 

Carine
Carine loves reading donated books at the new library

The library contains books both for primary and secondary level students, and many pupils are using the library to support their studies:

At school we have books but limited days when we were supposed to read. Now we have this library, I come every day after school. Now I can read so often I will know how to read better and I will now start approaching English books and be able to read English better.

– Carine, 12, P6 student at GS Gisozi School I

 

We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting the first Voyager Container Library.