Maison Shalom has never, since its inception, intended to build special schools for the orphans and other vulnerable children it cares for, so as not to stigmatize them. It has always pushed for these extremely vulnerable children to study in existing public or private schools in order to foster their integral development as human beings with a balanced personality.
Thanks to the initiative of Maggy and her colleagues at Maison Shalom, in 2005 a community day care centre, a place to play and engage in recreational activities, was set up for children aged between 1 and 5. It was open to children from Maison Shalom’s transit centre and those living nearby (Maison Shalom’s neighbours). Farming parents, in particular widows, who had small children they could not look after while working in the fields brought them to the centre in the morning and came to fetch them on their way home, at 11.30 a.m.
The day care centre’s social workers and teachers emphasized four subjects of great importance for the sound psychological development of the children in their care: life education, psychomotor development, health education and discovery of the world.
Thanks to large-scale awareness campaigns on community care for orphans, a maximum number of children were reintegrated into their respective communities of origin. The programme’s success practically emptied the buildings of the community day care centre in Nyamutobo.
Inspired by Maggy’s unifying spirit, the building block of Maison Shalom, and concerned to improve the quality of teaching in post-conflict Ruyigi province, the parents proposed the launch of an initiative to open an international(-level) school in the premises of the community day care centre. In agreement with the parents, Maison Shalom supported that initiative.
With the parents’ subscriptions, the international school is able to pay its operating costs and part of the staff’s salaries. Maison Shalom, for its part, makes available to the parents the premises and teaching material, and helps transport the children and pay the other part of the teachers’ salaries.
The international school needs supports because it is just starting out. It has three classes in the nursery school section, and in the 2010-11 school year it opened a first-grade class. It plans to build one room each year but has very limited means. It needs outside support. The student body numbers 98 pupils, distributed as follows:
Nursery school level 1 30
Nursery school level 2 28
Nursery school level 3 21
First grade 19
The school’s needs are enormous: school material, Internet connection, bus to transport the children, funds to build new classrooms, equipment for the classrooms, toys, programmes adapted to other international schools, ongoing teacher training, qualified staff to train the teachers, and so on.