As you may already know from previous newsletters (click here to view. Go to newsletter #6), the Early Childhood Development Centre in Kigali is up and running successfully. Fifteen children are currently enrolled in the class, and there is room for 15 more youngsters. Some of our caregivers are now acquiring new skills as instructors that will enable them to become self-sufficient. At Shelter Them, we have no intention to stop there. We are already making plans to repeat our success with preschool education – in Gateko village in Bugesera District.
We in North America readily understand the value of education for preschool children. But in Rwanda, where public education is free, early childhood education is very expensive, and outside of Kigali, in places like Gateko, it is unheard of. For children under six years of age, living in such situations, life is precarious. They are often not well cared for due to lack of adequate housing and poor sanitation and hygiene. Also parents, who need to work long hours to survive, cannot give their young children proper care. These circumstances lead to delayed development, both physically and emotionally, and sometimes death at an early age for children in such a fragile state.
But we have already seen how valuable early childhood education could be for our children in Gateko. When Shelter Them first started sponsoring children in Kigali, the children we sponsored were often older, and sometimes struggled in school as a result. But when we started a sponsorship program in Gateko, the children we supported have been much younger, and their success in school has been much greater because they had the chance to begin school sooner. We can accelerate their progress by providing early childhood education, not only for our sponsored children but also for other children in the community. And just as we have seen in Kigali, local women will have the opportunity to learn new transferable skills to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent. Everyone wins.
We have the plan, we have the personnel, and we will soon have the space, in the Community Centre that is currently under construction. All we need are the funds to make it happen. You can help to make it happen. Education is the key to unlock opportunity and independence for the people of Gateko. You hold the key. Please help us to achieve our goal.