Masks and Thermometers
Rwanda is continuing to struggle with coronavirus – in the last few weeks, the number of cases and deaths increased and Kigali went back into a strict lockdown. Students have spent the majority of 2021 home from school, only recently finally returning to school in three phases at the end of October, November and January.
In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in schools, all students and staff must wear facemasks and have their temperature checked at the start of the day. However, many schools, particularly in rural areas, did not have the resources to purchase enough thermometers and tens of thousands of students cannot afford a mask.
This has had a HUGE impact on student’s education, as well as their health and safety. CARSA’s Programs Manager, Sylvestre, explained it this way,
Once we went to the schools, those schools in rural places where the kids were coming from really poor areas, we saw the masks they did have were just useless, they were too old. One mask can be shared with eight people in the whole family. The kids take the mask to school. Then they come home and their dad takes the same mask to go and meet someone and so on. When we saw this happening, it was helpful to understand how great the need was.
Testing temperatures was taking such a long time before starting classes [because there is maybe one or two thermometers for over 1,000 students]. Even some school leaders said they didn’t test the students because if they do this, at the end of the week they will find themselves not having covered all the subjects that were planned. It’s really a risk. If someone is there with a fever, they can infect the whole class, the whole school. You can see how a small thing can be helpful.
Our local partner, CARSA, work in the communities in Kamonyi and Muhanga. The district leaders came to CARSA to ask for help to provide masks and thermometers to their local schools to protect the students and prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as enable teachers to have time to actually teach their students. The need was just overwhelming – CBL supported CARSA to provide masks and thermometers to the students and schools who were the most in need from a very long list.
Together, we have been able to distribute 112 thermometers and 20,160 masks!
The thermometers and masks were given to the district leaders and headteachers, and then CARSA visited eight schools in order to follow up the distribution. The CARSA team met the students, oversaw the distribution of the masks, and were able to share information and encouragement with the students.
The team chose to visit some of the really remote schools. These schools are hard to get to, they are far from the roads, they really are the unseen schools. The parents from these schools in particular were so appreciative – they said that to them it meant that they had someone thinking about them, acknowledging them as people and really giving them a voice – what an incredible gift to give!
It has been just incredible to be part of this project – but the need is so great! There’s so much more to be done! Will you help us provide more masks and thermometers?
It costs about $1 to purchase a facemask. We need more than 100,000 masks – what could you do? 1 mask? 10 masks? 100 masks? Whatever your capacity, each mask provides dignity and increased safety for students and staff.
I costs about $60 for a thermometer. We need 735 thermometers – what could you do? Every thermometer increases the safety of staff and students, and gives more time for education, which is so vital for these children’s futures.
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Some students and leaders speak about the impact:
We really thank CARSA and its partners for responding positively to our call. This pandemic is a global issue, which requires a collaboration and partnership to deal with it. The government has done a lot to help protecting its people but as you know it can’t afford everything needed alone. CARSA has been doing a good work in trauma healing, reconciliation and peace building among the youth in secondary schools. This time you have intervened in saving lives of youth you work with. The support provided shows the love and how much you care for people you serve. Masks and thermometers you have given will make a big difference in preventing the infection and spread of the pandemic among the communities of Muhanga district.
- Vice Mayor of Muhanga District in charge of Social Affairs
When things get tough, people think only about themselves, but it’s amazing to see that there are still people driven by love, people who can think about forsaken people like us in a very remote place. We thank CARSA and Its supporters for providing thermometers and masks for just protecting our children during this difficult period. Though our kids were going to school, we were very concerned that they might be infected by COVID-19 and infect the whole family once they are back in their respective families. On behalf of other parents, I thank you very much for the help you provided.
- Parent representative of Gihara Secondary School
I used to wear an old mask that I picked from a rubbish bin, but I’m happy that I’ve got a new mask. Thank you very much for caring for us.
- Student from Groupe Scolaire Horezo
I have been sharing one old facemask with my parents and siblings. But I’m happy that I’ve got my own that I will be wearing to protect myself against this terrifying pandemic COVID-19. We pray that God keeps blessing you so that you will be able to help my classmates who couldn’t get a new mask.
- Student from Groupe Scolaire Munini.