The Story So Far
How it started
In 2009, a 17 year old schoolgirl, Kari Spence, signed up to go on a school trip to the village of Gako in rural Rwanda. It was to be a life changing experience.
It rapidly became clear to everyone on the trip that the majority of school-age children there were denied education of any kind. The cost of schooling was prohibitive for locals, and far beyond the means of the average family. And yet Kari discovered how little it actually cost in UK terms. Just £36 can fund a child’s education, school uniform and health insurance for a year.
Kari returned to Scotland, very much in love with Rwanda and its warm, welcoming and enthusiastic people, and was determined to try to make a difference if she possibly could.
Kari returned to Rwanda many times over the following years, and came to know the pupils at Faith and Hope Academy well. She built a strong, trusting relationship with the very committed headteacher, Felix, and devel- oped friendships with many families who were unable to send their children to the school.
When she began sharing her story, initially with her extended family and close friends, people began to ask
Field of Dreams
The concept of Together in Sport has always had physical activity at its core. As a PE teacher, Kari knew the benefits that being involved in some form of sport can bring. It was particularly important in an area still in the shadow of the 1994 genocide, where the divisions in society had such devastating effects, and wiped out a whole generation in some communities. It is a sad fact that the
how they could help. Donations started to come in, and Kari’s sponsorship scheme was born. In the first year, around sixty children were able to fulfil their ambition to go to school. Later, this number increased as people became aware how easily they could make a significant difference to others, with so little cost to themselves.
As sponsorship grew, it became clear to Kari – who was working full time as a newly-qualified teacher by now – that the logistics of linking sponsors with children and managing a growing database was too much for one person to do. So she enlisted the help of a number of longstanding sponsors to form a Board of Trustees. The Board now meets regularly to discuss the way forward.
in any form of physical activity. There was, however, a flattish area of tree-filled scrubland immediately adjacent to the school. It was a long shot, but if cleared it would be a perfect size for a sports field. Kari made enquiries about the value of the land itself and the cost of clearing away the vegetation and making it flat. The price was £6000, but there was a short deadline for offers.
A plea was made for donations, and due to the generosity of some sport-related companies and kind individuals, the deadline was reached — just!
Then followed another trip to Rwanda, this time with suitcases stuffed with outgrown sportswear, football boots, basketballs and any other sport-related item that the resourceful folks of East Lothian could come up with! From that day onward, the sports field was, and continues to be, in constant use for all sorts of activities, competitive and fun.