Having just travelled back to the UK after working as the APIE Education Manager for the last two years, it seemed like a good time to reflect on all of the amazing, life-changing moments that I experienced.
My time with APIE started in rather dramatic style with a one-week delay in Istanbul due to snow. With no luggage or chance of escape from the hotel and a terrible cold it could have been a disastrous week; however it gave Amy, the Country Director, and I a chance to get to know each other and begin working together. It showed us that we were going to make a good team as we were able to work effectively together in the most trying of circumstances and a supportive, complementary working relationship was quickly born. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know Amy’s daughter, Sophia, and a friendship with the family began which I know will last well beyond my time with APIE. I was thrilled on our last day in Istanbul when the weather cleared enough for me to explore the Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar … another amazing city accidentally ticked off my list!
Once we arrived in Kigali it was time to properly begin work. I was excited to meet the staff at Umubano Primary School and I was not disappointed. Their commitment, enthusiasm and desire to continuously develop their professional practice is infectious and I was proud to be part of the school’s journey for a short while. The highlight for me was the relationship I built with the school’s Head Teacher, Jean de Dieu. He embodies the values of the school perfectly; he is passionate about quality education and developing a peaceful ethos across the school. It was a privilege to call Jean de Dieu my colleague and friend over the last two years and I know he is going to continue to lead the school onto amazing things with the support of APIE.
I was, and continue to be, inspired by the staff at Umubano and their desire to ensure the students in their care receive the best educational experiences possible. Agrippine, who had been a teacher at the school and became the Deputy Head Teacher at the start of 2017, is a great example of this. She began her Deputy Head Teacher journey at the same time as I started my APIE journey. We worked closely together to develop the Special Education Needs programme at the school and supported each other with classroom observations and staff trainings. It was incredible to see her flourish in her role over the two years, taking on more and more responsibilities and working closely with Jean de Dieu to move the school forward.
As well as working closely with Umubano Primary School, I also worked with government schools and teachers; devising and delivering training to support developments within the education sector more widely. Working with APIE also gave me the opportunity to work closely with a variety of other development partners and learn more about the great work happening across Rwanda supporting the government to improve educational experiences for all children. I met so many inspiring, dedicated and passionate people who are committed to improving the lives of children and young people across the country.
The highlights for me are too many to mention individually, from Project Umubano to the Ubumuntu Arts Festival and everything in between; being a part of an organisation with a big impact has been both professionally and personally incredibly rewarding.
I am writing this blog with mixed emotions as there are many things about Rwanda, APIE and Umubano that I will miss greatly, however I know this is not the end of my Rwanda story and I have no doubt that I will be back for visits in the very near future. I am excited to see how both APIE and Umubano continue to grow and share good practice across Rwanda.
Now, on to the next adventure and living and working in London …