Happy New Year – January News from David Chaplin, CEO

Dear Friend

Today the last mince pies have been eaten, the decorations have come down and we feel as though Christmas is finally done and dusted.

The Chaplin family has had a wonderful time, mainly focusing on the grandchildren. This has involved a riot of present opening, a succession of outrageous games, a fair bit of eating and the occasional need for David to take the dog for a walk when it has all become a little too much.  We have also enjoyed no fewer than three nativity plays and I have to say that these have all seemed far more polished and perfect than I remember them being in our day.

I recall that one year Sally had a particularly disastrous production. She had decided to try to win over a tiresome boy by giving him the lead role of Joseph. Unfortunately, this did not work, and the child continued to be a terrible nuisance, pinching the angels’ bottoms and tugging the tails of the sheep.

Eventually Sally had had enough and told the boy that because he had behaved so appallingly, he was to be demoted to the role of inn-keeper with just one word to say.

The night of the performance came around: the hall was filled with proud and expectant parents and the headmaster was beaming smugly in anticipation of yet another triumph.

All went well until Joseph knocked on the door of the inn to ask if there was any room. The innkeeper grinned broadly and replied, “Yes. Plenty!”

For Rwanda Aid this Christmas has been particularly special because of the concert performed by Tom and his friends. This was, by common consent, a wonderful evening, the perfect start to the Christmas festivities. In addition to that it raised some £8 000 for our work in Rwanda.  Thank you all for your wonderful support for this event, keeping our costs to the minimum by organising the parking, arranging the decorations and baking a delicious range of canapes. We also loved having members of the Rwanda Aid Youth Association acting as hosts.

As I mentioned before the concert, we try very hard to run Rwanda Aid as a lean and efficient machine with minimal administrative and promotional/fundraising costs. This enables us to spend the vast majority of the funding we are given on the work in Rwanda for which it was given. We can only do this because of our wonderful family of supporters and donors. I can illustrate this well by telling you about some of the support which is already promised for the coming year.

A team of former Vinehall parents and pupils has been to Rwanda to shoot a film illustrating Rwanda Aid’s work over the last ten years, and we plan to show this at a number of venues in April to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide. We feel this timing is appropriate because the film will show clearly what amazing progress the country has made since those dark days of 1994.

We are really pleased that once again members of the Rwanda Aid Youth Association will be helping to host these evenings and are planning to read some testimonies from some of our young beneficiaries in Rwanda.

In addition to that we have teams preparing to run for us in the Kigali Peace Marathon and the London Vitality 10k.

We also benefit from generous monthly support from over fifty donors and sponsors, as well as wonderful grants from twenty-one trusts and foundations.

In addition to the amazing support from “our” prep schools Devonshire House, King’s House, Vinehall and Wetherby, Brambletye School and Earlscliffe Sixth Form College have chosen to adopt us as their charity for this academic year.

Finally, we benefit from some fabulously generous donations from individuals and corporates.

I hope that all our donors will feel that they are getting a good bang for their buck because that is certainly our aim. Here are some statistics for 2018, and I should add that these achievements are only possible because of the wonderful dedication and hard work of our team in Rwanda:

  • our education team organised 196 training days working with our excellent Lead Teachers to train over 1100 teachers and school-based mentors in 151 schools
  • we are sponsoring over 20 “leading light” students through secondary school and university
  • we have built new classrooms and washroom facilities at two more schools, as well as building toilets and a perimeter fence at the Nkombo VTC
  • working with the sector agronomists our farm training team organised the training of 240 rural farmers, as well as setting up two productive school kitchen gardens
  • we are supporting seven tree nurseries enabling us to give out over 200 000 tree seedlings for cropping, soil improvement and the stemming or erosion
  • we have sponsored 200 young people at vocational training centres and are supporting 25 enterprise projects, many of them with growing turnover and employment opportunities
  • Our street children project has cared for a record number of children this year and over our five years of operating we have achieved an encouraging level of successful re-integration
  • we have continued to help over 80 children living with disability and we have also established semi-inclusive learning unit at the local primary school, the first of its kind in the area.

Facts, facts; vital for assessing the efficacy of the work we are doing, but not always helpful in understanding its deeper impact. Here, I prefer the feedback from the beneficiaries. I know, for example, that out teacher/mentor programme is worthwhile when a child writes: “Teachers these days do handle us like their own children which wasn’t before.” Similarly, all our work with disability is resoundingly endorsed when Theodore and Olivier, both profoundly deaf from birth, tell us with pride how they have learned to sign, attended school and training and become successful brick-layers so that they can look forward to realising their dreams which are to marry lovely wives and own their own homes.

We enter our second decade full of optimism and with lots of exciting plans in the pipeline: amongst other things we want to develop our school kitchen garden programme, introduce dairy goats and develop our work with young people living with disability. I have attached separately a full account of how we are planning to develop the last of these projects (the Alivera Project) for those who might be interested in the detail.

At the same time, we have a real commitment to embedding our initiatives in the community and ensuring that they are increasingly supported and funded by the government at local and national level. This gives us far greater reach and ensures ultimate sustainability.

We hope that you will want to continue to travel on this journey with us, but if you would prefer to call it a day, we will completely understand. You will just need to click on the unsubscribe icon and we will remove you from our mailing list.

This comes with our hearty thanks and very best wishes for the New Year

David and the team at Rwanda Aid


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