COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends of Maranyundo,

Maranyundo Girls School welcomed its new Head of School, Sr. Laetitia Musanabaganwa, this past November. An experienced head of school with a strong background in science and education, Sr. Laetitia has a clear vision: to make the investments for MGS to continue to be a top college-prep school accessible to all high performing girls in Rwanda regardless of ability to pay, ensuring that at least half of the students receive full MGS scholarships. When Maranyundo Initiative’s Executive Director Jessi Smolow and I visited campus last month we saw her strategic priorities in full swing, including investments in new faculty and professional development, strengthened STEM and library programming, and expanded college counseling and preparation.

These efforts were challenged this past Saturday when, after the first case of Covid-19 in Rwanda was confirmed, the Government of Rwanda directed all schools, public and private, to close beginning Monday, March 16. At MGS, our indefatigable Head of School Sr. Laetitia and the staff helped the girls prepare for departure. On Monday the Mayor of Bugesera arrived on campus to explain the situation to the girls and allay concerns. Parents and buses arrived, and the school van was also used to ensure every girl had a way of getting home safely. The girls were in the process of studying for exams and were able to take home textbooks and notebooks, as well as fun reading books to continue their studies at home. They are strong and resilient! We will keep in close touch with Sr. Laetitia for updates on the situation and support her and the girls in this new environment.

Universities around the world, including in Rwanda, have also closed and we checked in with MGS alumnae studying everywhere from Rwanda, to the US, Canada, France, Turkey, Greece and China, among others. Their WhatsApp support group is in full swing, messages of solidarity and encouragement abound, and we are happy to report that the global Maranyundo network is strong! The girls report that they are all navigating this unprecedented situation successfully. We continue to be in close touch and the girls will let us know if they need any additional help moving forward.

These are unprecedented times and we would like to take a moment to express our gratitude for the health care workers on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world who put their own well-being at risk every day to care for others; for the students, families and school staff everywhere who are rising to the new challenges to keep education moving forward in a variety of creative ways; and for all of you, who despite your own challenges, are able to maintain a global perspective that recognizes that we are all in this together, and are able to keep the shared bonds of our common humanity front and center.

Gira amahoro. Have peace everyone. And please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.

Kaia Miller Goldstein, Maranyundo Initiative Board Chair