“Although these grounds may be a genocide site, it is not one made of bones; it is a living monument of hope against darkness. For at this school, beauty, truth and goodness have come together in an extraordinary way.”
– Sister Ann Fox, in a speech to the first S3 graduating class from Maranyundo Girls School
A VISION OF HOPE
“When we planted this tree at the groundbreaking ceremony in 2006 it was just a wimpy little thing”, says Barrie Landry, pictured here with Maureen Ruettgers and Beth Floor, founders of the Maranyundo Initiative. The tall tree next to them today is a testament to the robust partnership that has grown between the Maranyundo Initiative and the Maranyundo Girls School. Founded on a vision of hope, the roots of this life-giving partnership reach back to September 2000 when Senator Aloisea Inyumba of Rwanda attended a Women Waging Peace Conference at Harvard University.
Senator Inyumba understood the transformative power of education and believed that rebuilding Rwanda after the genocide depended on educating its youth – particularly girls. At the conference she met Sister Ann Fox of The Paraclete Center, another passionate believer in the power of education. They joined forces and at the invitation of First Lady Jeannette Kagame, brought a group of women from Boston to Rwanda. Senator Inyumba shared with them her dream of building a middle school for girls in a poor, rural area of the country, on the site of a former concentration camp. “Poor girls” she told them, “can achieve great things if they are given a chance”. Inspired by this vision of hope the group vowed to raise the capital to make her dream a reality.
In just a few years construction began and on February 28, 2008 the school opened its doors with a great opening ceremony celebration including drummers, dancing and a moving address by First Lady Jeannette Kagame.
Today the Maranyundo Girls School is thriving. It currently provides a high quality middle school education to 180 girls in grades S1-S3 and in January 2017 will celebrate full enrollment of the high school years S4-S6 with an additional 180 girls for a total of 360 students.
THE PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF EDUCATION
The Maranyundo Girls School is a place of transformation on many levels. One of the parents of a student at MGS lost her own parents in the 1971 genocide, and her daughter now proudly walks the grounds of the school, proof of the transformational process that has occurred in this place. The parents’ sense of pride and ownership is evident in every corner of the school and in every enthusiastic and dedicated student.
WE ARE WITH YOU
From the very beginning the partnership between the Maranyundo Initiative and the Maranyundo Girls School was special. The initial group of funders grew to include educators, supporters and architects on both sides of the ocean. In November of 2010, to fulfill the original vision of this being a fully Rwandan school, the Maranyundo Initiative took the unusual step of transferring the school to Rwandan leadership by voting full ownership and operation of the school to the Benebikira Congregation, a Rwandan order of Roman Catholic nuns highly respected for their commitment to the poor, their dedication to academic excellence in the 14 secondary boarding schools, 6 primary, and 2 vocational schools that they own and administer in Rwanda, and their compassion and heroism during the genocide.
The Maranyundo Initiative remains deeply committed to the success of the school, contributing a substantial portion of the operating budget each year. This support allows the school to continue to provide financial support to 50% of the students in each class. In addition, grants are made to fund special projects as requested, such as new computer labs, document cameras for the classrooms, a generator and most recently, the construction of a new multi-purpose hall and the facilities for the high school. The Initiative also provides expertise and special programming for teacher training so that the Maranyundo Girls School can continue to be one of the top schools for teaching excellence in the country.
Through the years, this unique model of philanthropic partnership has evolved and strengthened. Head of School Sister Marie Juvenal (pictured
below with board members Burch Ford, Joyce Fletcher, Daphne Petri and Sister Ann Fox) provides strong leadership and parents and local officials play an increasingly important role in maintaining standards and setting the direction for the school and in planning ways its extraordinary
success can have an impact on other schools in the region and the local community.
The relationship between the Maranyundo Initiative and the Maranyundo Girls School is based on a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect, built brick by brick. This partnership will continue to deepen as we work together to expand the school to become an exceptional upper secondary School of Science and Technology.
Beloved Aloisea Inyumba recently passed away, but her dream is alive and thriving in Nyamata. The Maranyundo Girls School has become a beacon of hope and success for all of Rwanda.