Thursday, June 4, 2009
Road Trip to Sonrise School
On the road to Ruhengeri (Northwestern Rwanda) we needed four wheel drive and I bounced around to the point that my keys fell out of my bag and did not realize it until I was dropped at my car around 8:00PM. Luckily I took a motion sickness pill but still felt a little queasy because I was on a bench seat in the back of a Land Cruiser and thankfully they found my keys and brought them back to me. Betsy, Luanne and I will need to travel on this same road to visit the Gorilla’s so I will rent a 4 Wheel vehicle and drive myself. Hopefully, I will be able to maneuver the HUGE potholes and areas of unpaved road. One of the biggest public works projects is to make this into a four lane highway because it leads to the biggest tourist attraction in Rwanda at this time; too bad it will not be completed before my return trip in mid-August! Gad, the young man who drove us and gave us a running commentary on all things Rwandese, said some people will miss the “rustic” road to the Mountains.
As we started to climb the first 7.5% grade into the mountains and volcanoes that separate Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo, we were bombarded with beauty. As usual, my photos are amateur but i am trying!
We arrived in time for lunch and had one of the local delicacies… forest honey. We dunked fresh bananas into the honey and I bought a jar to bring back to Kigali. Dan, I wish you could taste it and enjoy the “woodsy’ taste and admire the clear amber color.
Sonrise School was the vision of Bishop John, a man revered by all in Rwanda. He is an Anglican Bishop who wanted to assist as many orphans of the genocide as possible. Due to his extensive fundraising contacts in the US and Europe and with the help of the local diocese, he began construction in 1999 and opened the boarding school for grades 1-4 in 2001. They added a grade each year and will graduate there first High School class in 2010. They have a primary school with about 565 students and High School with over 500 students. They are building a new wing to the high school that will house more computer and science labs. All 6, 9 and 12th graders must take the standardized test and since its opening, Sonrise has always been in the top 4 for each grade with many number one honors. With the first graduating class next year taking the 12th grade test, it will be interesting to see how many of the students will be given scholarships to University based on their rank on the test.
It has a very impressive campus and employs over 130 people to keep it running. We met the Headmaster (age 27) and several teachers who ranged in age from 20-35; another indication that Rwanda lost a generation. We saw all parts of the school including the dorms, classrooms, churches, kitchen, dining halls, playing fields, dairy, dispensary, and the school management was very supportive in providing information that will be helpful in opening the Akilah Institute next year. Perhaps some of the young women graduates form Sonrise who do not qualify for University will attend our school next year.