RWANDA

Primary school age (7-14 year old) children are out of school.

Of the poorest quintile of children are out of school, the highest percentage in Rwanda.

%

Of 15-24 year olds have not completed primary education in Rwanda. (EPDC, 2014)

The aftermath of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi is still being felt in Rwanda. More than one million Rwandans were killed in the hundred days of the genocide, leaving Rwanda one of the poorest countries in the world. Its social, political and economic structures were destroyed. Though dramatic strides have been made in the nation’s recovery, there are still children in great need.

Over one million children in Rwanda live in extreme poverty (UNICEF 2018). These children are illiterate, lack clothing and barely manage to eat once a day. MindLeaps began working with vulnerable youth in Rwanda in 2010, and opened its own permanent center in Nyamirambo, Kigali in 2014. Since its opening, the center has served over 1,500 out-of-school and vulnerable in-school youth in its safe, supportive space.

Ally’s story

Ally is an adorable kid. He is quiet and attentive with a hard working spirit and a deep desire to learn. But for much of his life, he did not have the opportunity to learn.

Ally’s mother died and his father went missing when Ally was very young. Due to extreme poverty, he had to drop out soon after starting primary school. He didn’t even finish the first term, which meant he couldn’t even write his own name. Ally spent his days searching for charcoal to sell so he could buy food. At night, he slept in a sewer.

MindLeaps teachers first met Ali in 2013 and invited him to join the dance program. He started coming to classes, but seemed so unhappy at first. The teachers gave him encouragement and support for all his hard work in the dance classes, and over time Ally began changing. His spirits picked up, and he was motivated to work hard in all his classes. He saw that dance steps he hadn’t been able to do at first were now coming easily to him. He understood more English and discovered a love for computer classes. He saw that all his effort was appreciated and was making him a better dancer and student. Ally loved his dance, English and IT classes at MindLeaps, and became one of the best students. He was ready and eager to go to school. All he needed was a sponsor for his boarding school scholarship.

In 2015, Ally got that scholarship from Misty Copeland, the first African-American Principal Dancer for American Ballet Theatre. Ally was selected because he was one of MindLeaps’ top performing students in all classes, and the data on his cognitive and behavioral skills development showed that he had reached a level where he could succeed in a formal school environment. Ally was excited to visit OrpCare Boarding School with Misty Copeland, and thrilled to restart his education. He began his schooling in 2016 and scored an incredible 85% in his first term, making him the top student in his class.