This year was an exciting time for a school in the Gicumbi district as it marks the first time that the students have had somewhere to play sports! For the two thousand primary school children and five hundred secondary students this has been a long time coming, as before the only area where they could play is between the towering trees that surround the school.
AEE Rwanda with the help of KNH in partnership with the Parents and Teachers association (PTA) and the school have been able to provide one multipurpose area which the students use for basketball and volleyball. AEE Rwanda was able to have an impact in this way because of the advocacy work the AEE run self-help groups have in the area.
Once a number of self-help groups establish in an area (here it was 11 SHG) they create a Cluster Level Association (CLA) which has a level of political a social power that enables things to get done in the community that otherwise had no one to advocate for. Eventually these associations form together to make a federation which has a significant amount of political and social power and it can represent over 1,000 women plus their families. This empowerment is a key aspect of assisting the poor to escape poverty, as poverty is not just financial but also political.
Many of the children from the self-help groups attend this school, which before the playground was built lots of children either went to another schools which had playgrounds (the nearest being 15km away) or they simply did not attend. The parents now say about their children “they are very happy now, they can play close to home. You can see they are happy and we are very grateful for that. The children are also excited about learning how to play these games that they did not know before.” The school is hoping to expand the area to triple the current size and already have the land but they are waiting to have enough for the expansion.