Something pretty special happened last week. Our co-founders, Nick & Louise (that's them in the photo above!) spent 7 days travelling around Rwanda, meeting with the communities we’ve been lucky enough to support through our ethical scheme. We'll be sharing everything they got up to over the next few days, but first up - let's take a look how they got on when visiting a few of the educational projects we part-fund with on-pack donations from our english breakfast.
We launched the scheme back in 2006 as a way to give back to the communities living in close proximity to the Pfunda tea estate (where we source a lot of the tea for our everyday brew). In patnership with the Point Foundation - a wonderful charity dedicated to supporting vulnerable communities in Rwanda, our ethical scheme initially supported The Noel Orphanage, home to over 600 children and teenagers orphaned by the tragic genocide - the orphanage closed in 2014 and since then we’ve been able to help provide care for young people with disabilities, sponsor children through schools and university as well as provide much needed vocational training.
Skip to today, and thanks to our on-pack donations as well as some additional fundraising (tough mudder and our pop up shop being two highlights!) we’ve donated over £250k to be used in a variety of projects - if you've ever bought our everyday brew, we just wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you, as you're the reason why these projects are able to happen.
Our teapigs WhatsApp group became a fantastic way for us all to live vicariously through Nick & Lou - each morning we’d wake up to new photos from their travels and it really felt like all 30 of us were out there with them. Hopefully we can try and capture that feeling here for you too – blurry photos and all!
So, what were they getting up to!?
Point Foundations’ mission is to use education & compassion as a way to provide young people & their families the valuable life skills needed to raise themselves out of poverty – so, many of the projects we’re involved with are focused on exactly that! Much of Nick & Lou’s journey was spent visiting schools and community projects to see how donations have supported them over the years. They also visited two amazing tea estates, but we’ll save that for part 2 of their travels.
House of children School and the Ubumwe Community Center
Two key projects which Nick & Lou were keen to spend time at were the Ubumwe Community Center (UCC) and House of Children School. UCC is a pioneering rehabilitation centre providing support and services to people of all disabilities in Gisenyi and surrounding areas. While House of Children is a privately run nursery & primary school for 700 children, leading the way for inclusive education in Rwanda by teaching children of all abilities.
Both UCC & House of Children are truly innovative and inspirational projects, helping to integrate children with special needs and allowing them to unlock their abilities. Our donations help buy equipment and school supplies, as well as sponsor 20 children through school and funding the salaries for 3 teachers.
Sponsoring students through University
We’ve sponsored 28 Uni students over the years and Nick and Lou were really thrilled to be able to meet some of them face to face. A special highlight was attending Gasi’s dissertation presentation, who we first met when he was living at the Noel Orphanage, and whose journey has been incredible to see flourish over the years. He passed with flying colours (go Gasi!), being awarded an excellent 80% mark for his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Charles and Karen, the driving force behind The Point Foundation and adopted parents of Gasi, were beyond proud, you can see them in the photo below, alongside Gasi and some of his friends.
In true 'dissertation hand in day' style, they celebrated with a big ol' party, attended by ex-school and university friends - sadly Nick & Lou were struggling with the ol' jetlag, so had to slink off early. *cough* lightweights *cough*
Mwogo vocational training centre
Next up, a visit to the Mwogo Vocational Training Centre – Nick and Lou arrived just in time (literally) to attend the opening ceremony for a new training centre that promotes gender equality, inclusion of socially vulnerable, special needs and disabled students. We were able to part-fund the building work with donations from our Truman Brewery pop up last summer, so it was wonderful to see the centre up and running plus meet the families who would be taking part in their vocational courses, learning new skills like mechanics, tailoring, hairdressing and plumbing. Check out one of the new sewing rooms in the photo below.
For an incredibly rural village, they sure know how to throw a party - over 500 guests attended the event with the students, their parents, local politicians and villagers, Charles, Karen and Viatuer (from The Point Foundation) and most importantly staff and students from the Ubumwe Community Centre. They, along with the new students, provided entertainment for all the guests which included dancing, music, acrobatics (special mention to the man on stilts in the photo above!) and many, many speeches. The UCC is a great inspiration for Mwogo as it demonstrates what can be done to help those, particularly with special needs, to flourish and hopefully find their way in life.
Those are just a couple of the ways our ethical scheme supports young people in Rwanda, but you can read more about our ethical scheme here, and we'll be updating you on part 2 of Nick & Lou's journey very soon!
在盧旺達的一星期 | 支持融合教育
我們於2006年開始此慈善計劃，藉以回饋當地社區，資助對象為Pfunda茶莊（我們英式早餐茶的主要產地）鄰近的居民。此計劃的合作機構為英國慈善團體Point Foundation，他們致力幫助盧旺達有需要社群。計劃所資助的盧旺達孤兒院The Noel Orphanage，為超過600名因種族清洗以流離失所的兒童和青少年提供居所。孤兒院於2014年關閉。至此，我們安排照顧殘疾青年，資助兒童上學讀書和提供職業培訓。
學校House of Children School和社區中心Ubumwe Community Center (UCC)
Nick和Louise花大部分時間探訪康復中心Ubumwe Community Center (UCC)和學校House of Children School。康復中心UCC專為吉塞尼和鄰近地區的殘疾人士提供支援和服務。學校House of Children School則是私營托兒所和小學，現有約700名學生。他們致力教導不同能力的孩子，帶領盧旺達的融合教育發展。
UCC和 House of Children是既獨特又鼓舞人心的慈善項目，幫助有需要的孩子發掘自身潛能。善款為學校添置設備和文具用品，同時也資助20位學童的學費和3位教師的工資。
慈善計劃資助了共28位學生升讀大學。Nick和Louise這次更跟部分學生見面。當中焦點是參加Gasi的學位論文發佈。第一次與他碰面是在孤兒院The Noel Orphanage。Gasi就讀的酒店和餐廳管理學位更獲得80%的優異成績。The Point Foundation的策劃人，同時也是Gasi的養父母Charles和Karen替他感到十分自豪。以下有一些他們的照片，Gasi和他的朋友。
當地人當然知道如何慶祝，超過500名嘉賓參加活動，當中包括學生、他們的父母、當地政客、村民、Charles、Karen、Viatuer（來自The Point Foundation）及最重要的UCC學生和職員。他們聯同新學生為在場嘉賓表演舞蹈、音樂、雜技（圖片中踩高蹺的男生）及演講。UCC為Mwogo示範了如何幫助有需要的青少年。