Become a Volunteer
In both July 2017 and 2018, we took a team of UK teachers, both primary and PE teachers, out to volunteer at Faith and Hope Primary for two weeks. The teachers took part in an educational programme where they worked with all age groups from nursery to P6, delivering a variety of different lessons- PE, English, Numeracy, Literacy, Expressive Arts and music. They worked closely with the local Rwandan teachers delivering a teacher training programme where they introduced the local teachers with a variety of different teaching methodologies, and sharing their expertise to improve the overall education which is being delivered at the school.
Read about their experiences…
I had been looking forward to visiting Rwanda for over a year but before the first couple of days were over it had already totally surpassed my expectations. An overwhelming welcome at the school, an impromptu acrobatics demonstration and kick about with some local teenagers at the top of Mount Kigali and ending our second night with our entire group of then relative strangers in fits of uncontrollable laughter in a way you would usually expect with lifelong friends.
Then on Monday we started teaching. I didn’t really know what to expect and for some reason I chose to teach dancing and singing as a nice way to ease me into it. Fortunately the happiness and enthusiasm of the children at Hope and Faith is utterly infectious and any apprehension was instantly forgotten. The moment we stepped off the bus at school we were quite literally swarmed by a wave of energy and excitement which continued with every day of teaching and spread through everything we did outside of it. Long bus journeys, sharing an eighteen room dorm and an eight hour wait at Brussels airport on the way home were all approached with this childish enthusiasm and seen as an opportunity to have fun. On one day we spent hours stuck in traffic because of a political rally; a great chance to show off our singing and ceilidh dancing at the side of the road!
Rwanda is a unique and fascinating country. It has had to restart after facing incomprehensible suffering. It is only 23 years since genocide yet the contrast between this and the friendliness and warmth of the Rwandan people today is incredible. Their attitude towards us, each other and their determination to rebuild their country is inspiring.
As part of this rebuilding process a great effort is made to remember what happened. This is important, but if Rwanda is to truly progress, providing people with the basic rights to water, food and education are the biggest priorities. Seeing the daily struggle these people face to have what I take for granted was difficult. The attitude of the children and teachers at the school was incredible but at the end of each day it was obvious how difficult the lack of water makes things for them.
Visiting the Nyamata Genocide Memorial and hearing the head teacher Felix’s life story put the progress that has been made in both the country and at Faith and Hope into perspective. What Kari, Felix and Together in Sport have achieved so far is staggering. Their work has enabled children to receive these essential rights and has given them the opportunity to progress. This was clearest on our last day at school; the last day of the school year. Parents came to receive report cards and were very emotional when thanking the teachers for their work and proclaiming the importance of education and the impact the school has had on their children.
Despite all this, without a reliable source of water the teachers, parents and children will always struggle. It is very hard to comprehend living life without this most basic need, so I was delighted and relieved to hear Kari’s announcement of plans to build a well for the school. I believe this will give the children, school and local community a freedom and potential to progress far beyond the significant achievements that have already been made.
I am very honoured to have been part of both this trip and the fundraising towards the well for the school. What I will remember most is the time I have shared with the school, the group and the people of Rwanda. Their enthusiasm, optimism and ability to share enjoyment in the simplest of things has been inspiring and a privilege to be part of. Experiencing this is what has made coming on this trip without doubt one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far.
I’ve known that Together in Sport was a special charity for a while. But actually travelling to Rwanda and experiencing first hand the difference that it makes to the lives of those children at Faith and Hope Primary School has highlighted just how special this charity is.
Kari and her team are so dedicated to helping those in need. You can be assured that every penny you donate to Together in Sport will be invested in projects that directly improve the quality of life of the students at the school. Such a small amount of money to us can go so far in Rwanda and I was delighted to find out that our group fundraising efforts had allowed the school to begin building a much needed water well for the local community.
Other projects such as the Food programme are a high priority for the charity, who aim to have every child at the school eating porridge daily. Despite never complaining or asking for more, the reality is that the children at Faith and Hope have very little and would greatly benefit from access to food and water as well as improved educational resources. Together in Sport are doing everything within their power to make sure this happens.
Before travelling to Rwanda I had hoped to pass on my knowledge to the children and teachers at the school. I quickly realised that in reality it was me who was learning the most.
I am so grateful to the children for the life lessons they taught me.
Just like Kari and her team, I’ve fallen in love with the Rwandan people and their country. A nation that has been through so much yet displays such positivity and happiness at all times. I am so glad I signed up to be part of Together in Sport’s journey and look forward to being involved again in the future.
If this is something you’re considering, I can’t think of a better charity to support. Get in touch with Kari today and get signed up for the next trip. I guarantee you will not regret it and the children at Faith and Hope will be so happy to see you.
Stepping off the bus on the first Friday of our trip to hundreds of smiles and cuddles from the children at Faith and Hope was the moment I knew volunteering in Rwanda was going to be so much more inspiring than I’d even imagined.
The sheer happiness on everyone’s faces, teachers and pupils, everyday was so refreshing! These children live with so little, struggling even to get necessities like food and water. Yet, they have such a positive outlook on life, relishing every opportunity to learn, play and meet new people. A highlight of teaching, for me, was introducing the children to musical instruments, they were so determined to follow and create new rhythms for different songs and they were all truly talented.
Along with teaching, the itinerary organised for the 2 weeks was jam packed with loads of opportunities to experience Rwandan culture and learn about it’s history as well! A trip to Akagera Safari seeing animals in their natural habitat, a home-cooked meal with the Rwandan teachers were fantastic experiences but listening to stories of the Rwandan Genocide and visiting Nyamata memorial church is something that will stay with me forever. A horrific massacre which killed hundreds of thousands of people. Happening so recently it meant that many of the friends we had made on our trip were there and had experienced such a horrendous thing. But the one word I took from every person we heard from, every memorial we read was: forgiveness. Nowadays, Rwandan people regard themselves as Rwandans – no separate groups, no hate towards anyone – just kind, caring, loving people who welcome one and all to their country with open arms.
Spending time with the children and learning about Rwandan history has given me so much to stop and think about it. If, in our country, we were to approach new things in the same positive and energetic way those children do; embrace differences with the same kindness and love; be grateful for the things we have no matter how small – we would gain so much more from life. I went to Rwanda excited to teach children from a different country but this trip was so much more and the Rwandan people have definitely taught me to appreciate every day and every thing in my life.
I can’t thank Kari and the rest of the Together in Sport team enough for giving me this opportunity and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of going on the next one. It was organised perfectly, the team were fantastic and I have made friends for life. It was a once in a lifetime trip (although I’m definitely secretly hoping I can go back again as soon as possible!)
Volunteering with Together in Sport has been above and beyond my expectations. From the first morning, meeting everyone at the airport to saying goodbye in the same place, it has been a whirlwind of adventures, laughs and friendships that will stay with me forever.
The itinerary planned over the fortnight gave us the greatest insight into all things Rwandan and its organisation was smooth and faultless.
I have so many amazing memories that it’s hard to pick out just one but I think my first experience of meeting the local Rwandans as we walked up Mount Kigali on the first weekend was something very special. Meeting the local children and delving into their worlds was an incredible experience. Kids of all ages were popping out from their mud huts shouting ‘Mzongu’ with such excitement. They greeted us with open arms and offered us their food, of which they had so little but this didn’t matter. As we made our way up the mountain more and more local kids joined us on our journey, most in bare feet and some baring their baby brothers and sisters on their back.
We were attracted to a group of boys performing acrobatics in the woods; climbing up trees, forward flipping, standing on each other’s shoulders. Despite an obvious lack of nutrition they displayed incredible athletic ability. Their improvisation and ability to keep themselves occupied in what was a scarce piece of land opened my eyes to the contrast of what I see back home. This clash between two worlds continued as we started our work at Faith and Hope Primary School.
It was obvious as soon as we approached the school that the pupils here loved school and were so happy to see us. They appreciated everything we did and cherished the equipment we gave to them. Their endless smiles and enthusiasm motivated me to provide them with the best learning experiences I could.
This experience makes you step back and see things differently. It opens your eyes to a different way of living, one where nothing is too small or disregarded but rather welcomed with open arms. It has shown just how far apart our lives our and how much we take things for granted back home. I’m hoping that the time we spent working with the Faith and Hope pupils and their teachers will make a positive impact towards their future learning and ambitions. I know that they have definitely made a huge impact on me.
I hugely recommend you jump at the chance of being apart of the next volunteer trip. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that gives you a different perspective on the world. You will be left with unforgettable memories and friends that you feel like you have known all your life. You will also feel privileged to meet the Rwandan people as their kind loving hearts never stop giving.
When I heard I had been accepted onto this years Together in Sport Rwanda Trip I was absolutely delighted. I had many reasons, both personal and professional for wanting to be part of it, and had expectations and hopes about what I could bring to the Team and take away from the experience…these were surpassed at every turn during the two weeks.
They say that these trips are life changing, THEY ARE! I have so many fantastic memories and things to reflect on. However ,the drive into the school for the first time is very special. You are overwhelmed by the open arms, smiley faces and the need to cuddle each and everyone of them as that is all they want from you. Their needs are simple and uncluttered by technology and high expectations. It was evident there and then that the next two weeks would be special.
I was continually blown away by their level of engagement, despite the heat , lack of water and nutrition.Their underlying skills and ability to learn new skills was incredible.Why/How? Because they all have to walk miles to get to and from school; their play is not centred around technology, but around what is naturally available to challenge them…like trees! As a result some have incredible upper body strength. Not only that but they are so quick to pick up visually and to learn. I have not in my 36years of teaching PE seen children develop their skills in so many activities so quickly. The pace of learning was impressive and the need to challenge them was evident.There is understandably an inbuilt survival mode in all the children. They have to “fight” for everything the can get, even a hug from us which is hard. How do you share yourself with everyone, but I tried…
The teachers at the school do an incredible job. Most classes have 50 plus, nothing but a chair in the nursery and P1classes, the rest have a desk and a chair. A blackboard to support their teaching. It’s tough! Despite that I was struck by the level of discipline, engagement, manners and the level of achievement in their learning. The maths that was on the P6classroom blackboard was mind blowing!
We were lucky enough to be there when reports were handed out. Many proud parents were there who openly embraced our presence and willing to share their children’s progress with us. They are so grateful that their children are able to attend Faith and Hope.It is obvious that there is a strong community spirit where the school is at the centre. BUT……there were many children looking on from a distance who are not …and that was so heart breaking to see.They come to the school every day , just to watch others learning…….
We supported teachers with some professional learning sessions which they totally embraced …it was a delight! Felix, Head teacher, is an inspiration to us all.
We have left them with many resources , not just for PE, but for arts, role play, health etc which we hope will make their jobs easier for them.
I hope I have left a little of me at the school, but I am taking away so much more!…and I am hopefully a better person as a result….I also hope that this will not be my first and last visit to Faith and Hope.
TISR is doing an amazing job to support Faith and Hope and the surrounding community. There is so much still to do.if you are thinking of volunteering with this charity….just DO IT! Age is no barrier to volunteering , it’s not just for the young! I hope I am evidence of that!
We are very passionate about providing opportunities for young people to experience a life changing opportunity by visiting Rwanda on a educational volunteering trip. Kari has been involved with taking 3 groups of young people out to Rwanda so far. The young people visited Faith and Hope, working with the pupils alongside designing educational art work on the school classroom walls to be used as teaching aids. Alongside the work at Faith and Hope the young people experience visiting genocide memorial sites learning about the history of the country, and are provided with many opportunities to experience the Rwandan culture.
Any schools or youth organisations who are interested in finding out more information contact Kari by email- firstname.lastname@example.org
Read about student experiences…
Milly’s Story, aged 17
I would say feeling nervous is inevitable and no matter how many times you’re told not to worry, it’s impossible not to have your doubts about unknown adventures. However what I would say to anyone who is visiting Kigali for the first time is that it couldn’t be a more welcoming and happy place to be.
The minute we arrived off the long haul flight and were met by Chris and his team all my original doubts disappeared. Our first drive out to the school was mesmerising, seeing poverty first hand was of course shocking however it left me feeling amazed at the fact that all these people are still ten times happier than the majority of people back here in Scotland.
After about an hours drive the bus full of our team pulled up at Faith and hope, I honestly can say that I couldn’t of wished for a more welcoming arrival. The vibe of happiness didn’t leave for a second throughout our time at faith and hope, bonds began to grow with the children at the school and as our time drew to a close to an end it became very apparent that saying goodbye would be the hardest part of the whole trip.
However, what made it a little bit easier is that I felt a determination to go back to the school and watch all these children grow into well educated individuals and help them as much as I can along the way. I would say to anyone who is even slightly considering a trip out to Faith and Hope is do it.
At the end of the day they need as much support as we can give them and the more the merrier. It’s a completely life changing experience and to share it with such an amazing team made it even better, it only takes a phone call to find out a bit more information on it so don’t hold back and go for it.
Joel’s Story, aged 18
Going to Rwanda was the most amazing and the hardest thing I have ever done.
We met some incredible people that have very little in comparison to us, who also have a horrific history from the genocide. We can only be happy that we got the chance to help these people and observe the work that they do to aid others. If anyone gets the chance to do what we did you should definitely do it. It is the most eye-opening experience I have ever had!
Christy’s Story, aged 17
After just returning from a two week adventure in Rwanda as part of a team of young volunteers I can easily say it was the best experience of my life so far.
Not only was the stunningly beautiful country itself breathtaking but the people we had the pleasure to meet are so friendly and inspirational you instantly feel at home on arrival.
During our trip we spent time working with Faith and Hope school which is situated in a small village called Gako in the Bugesera region of Rwanda. In this time we painted teaching aids on the classroom walls, taught varied lessons such as human rights and played multiple sports and games in the glorious sun with the children throughout the day.
On a few of the mornings we helped with the food programme and fed the hundreds of hungry mouths. It was amazing to watch how a cup of porridge affected them set them up for a day of learning and fun.
One of my favourite memories was watching the look on their faces as we handed out the pencil cases, something so simple really does make a huge impact on their everyday lives and futures.
Overall, I can’t put into words how life changing this experience was and how much it made me reflect on myself and the world we live in. It is a massive emotional and physical challenge but as you see the impact of your hard work unfolding in front of you it makes every second count and definitely unforgettable. There’s no doubt that I would recommend anyone to get out there and see it all as it is such a fantastically unique experience and one that will definitely stay with me forever.
Katie’s Story, aged 17
Going to Rwanda has to be the best experience of my life. I just can’t fully describe how it has changed my view on life.
My favourite memories have to be when we met the street project children for the first time. We had been there for five minutes but already felt welcomed and accepted. We were all dancing and laughing with all these children even though the longest conversation we had with each other was ‘how are you?’. I had a little boy from the project sit next to me on the bus and I was taken back by his kindness and happiness. I just found it crazy how they had absolutely nothing yet were so smiley and keen to have a laugh with us. On the journey, we gave the children some biscuits, water, baby wipes and hand gel and it broke my heart how grateful they were for the smallest of things. They were some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.
My other favourite memory has to be when I met my sponsor child for the first time. Well we’d met at the very beginning of the week but on the last day I decided I wanted to sponsor little Berte (the boy in the photo). He’s 3 years old but has the sweetest personality and smile. He was just a classic cheeky 3 year old who wanted to have fun. I really wish I could have brought him home with me!!
Overall, I would encourage anyone and everyone to volunteer with Together In Sport. I will never forget what an amazing and life-changing experience this has been.
Elliot’s Story, aged 17
It was a privilege to be part of the Rwanda trip 2017.
Going to Rwanda allowed me to see the huge contrast between the fastly developing side of Rwanda in the city centre of Kigali and the poverty hidden within it. In between the high rises and 5 star hotels were mothers with children on their backs farming crops in the blistering 30 degree heat.
At the school the children appreciated us so much for being there and were so welcoming, they would hardly leave us alone for one second. One of most eye opening parts of the trip for me was being allowed to serve the children there breakfast which they are fed twice a week. They were so appreciative of the cup of porridge they were given and the smiles on their faces said it all. Spending the week at the school you could see the difference in the children between the days they were fed and were not. On the days they were fed the children would be so much happier and attentive in the classroom and outside playing in the fields, compared to the days when they were not where they would be happy but not as energetic and would not be as attentive in class.
Thanks to all who supported this trip and continue to support the faith and hope school your donations do really make a big difference.
Jack’s Story, aged 17
Going to Rwanda was the most memorable and life-changing experience of my life.
While there, I met many amazing people and got to see the beautiful country. However, I also saw the extreme poverty and deprivation many of these people live in. The contrast between the city of Kigali compared to the more rural areas in Rwanda shocked me. In many areas within the city, there are massive buildings and beautiful scenery, yet only 5 minutes away, there are slums and people in seriously desperate situations. My favourite thing about going out to Rwanda has definitely got to be the reaction of the children to our being there. Their grinning faces and positive attitudes warmed my heart and made me so much more grateful for what I have. These children have very little yet continue to live everyday with smiles on their faces and amazing personalities. Even the simplest of items such as pencils and books made them overjoyed and made their faces light up even more!
I would recommend this experience to anyone and everyone! It opens your eyes to the wider world and makes many of the awful things you see on the tv or hear in the news much more of a reality. You gain a whole new appreciation for life and all we have, while also getting a new perspective on the world and humanity as a whole. I will undoubtedly be going back to Rwanda and have gotten a new outlook on what I want to do when I leave school and how I want to live my life.
Zoe’s Story, aged 17
Rwanda was everything I thought it would be and more.
At first, of course i was so nervous, i didn’t really know what to expect. However i literally had nothing to worry about. The people of Rwanda are hands down the most friendly and down to earth people who will do anything to help you.
My best memory has to be the first day we visited the Faith and Hope School. I was so overwhelmed at how excited the children were to see us. It brought a tear to my eye how welcoming and happy all the people were. The happiness the children gave me i cant get anywhere else. It was a different kind of happiness i haven’t experienced before.
As the days flew by, i bonded with a little girl, her name was Ange, age 5 in the photo. Even though there was a bit of a communication barrier, she still brightened up my day. She had my phone and i put on a song and just danced with her in my arms.. seeing her smile and giggle away made me smile. I never knew i would gain so much out of this trip.
You think your going out there to make a difference however you leave realising that the people made a difference in you. This is one of the best things i have ever done and i hope to be going out again in the future. If you are considering volunteering all i can say is go! It will change your perspective on life and bring you so much happiness!