We wanted to share an update on what life is like at the Maranyundo Girls School. This update came to us from Sister Ann Fox who had traveled to Rwanda in February, just prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, and until recently was at the school with Sister Laetitia.
The sisters continue at the school and are fortunate, thanks to the gardens and animals, to have food in abundance. They have been distributing the food that is above their needs daily to vulnerable families with the help of local leaders and priests.
Now that the lockdown has been eased and some movements are possible, families have come to the school to pick up smartphones and food bundles, and faculty come to access the Internet and run distance learning with their students.
The culture in Rwanda is heavily centered on their sense of community and the community has come together during the Covid-19 crisis. Support for a neighbor in need and contributions to support them are common. It is interesting to note that there is no word for “donation” in Kinyarwanda. The word they use is “contribution” and that has a different connotation. In Rwanda, if there is a neighbor in need, you simply share what you have. It is a strong culture of sharing.
The importance of community is evident in many aspects of Rwandan culture. People also contribute to village improvements – once a month on the last Saturday of the month – a practice known as “Umuganda”. If you have not experienced this – it is an amazing sight and a great event to take part in.
Weddings are also big community events. If invited to a wedding, Rwandans typically contribute to the celebratory feast. They may, if they wish, present a small present to the couple and this is called a “gift” but it is not an obligation or expected.
This culture of sharing also seems to explain in part why the streets, buildings and schools in Rwanda are not named after people or families. The individual takes second place to the community as a whole in Rwandan society.