Influence of COVID-19 in Rwanda and Samaritan International School

Being situated in the East Africa, Rwanda is called as “the country of thousand hills” by her scenic beauty with undulating hills and mesmerizing green fields. 12.3 million lives in the area equivalent to approximately double in size of Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Still the population growth has kept rising. Rwanda has the highest population density of all the African countries. While that of Japan is 347 persons per square kilometer, Rwanda has 525 persons per square kilometer.


How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Rwanda so far?


The first infected person was confirmed in Rwanda on the 14th of March 2020. As the pandemic rapidly spreading across the African continent, Rwandan government promptly executed strict order to lockdown throughout the country on 21 March. All workers both in private and public sectors were ordered to work from home using the ICT tools. Non-essential movements and travel between cities were prohibited, and non-essential businesses were closed. The Government undertook a set of measures to contain the COVID-19.


However, in the rural area including Nyagatare county where Samaritan International School is located, it was impossible for rural dwellers to work from home and those poor families live from hand to mouth from the past were hit hardest. They have to pay for the meals and house rents for their family members without income at all.


Recently in the capital of Kigali the lockdown was gradually relaxed and workers have started to return to work. But restrictions and lockdown still continue in rural areas prohibiting non-essential travels and gatherings.


The number of Novel Coronavirus Confirmed Cases are 292; out of which Active Cases are 95; Recovered are 197 all as of 17 May, and the Deaths 0 as of 13 May according to the updates by Rwandan Ministry of Health.


What about the impact on Schools?


Emergency closure of all schools in Rwanda originally scheduled for a month has been extended till September. After the reopening, the term students could not attend must be repeated, according to the Ministry of Education. The teacher compensation during the school closure has been limited to public schools. Private schools are recognized as business. The COVID-19 shutdown continues to affect especially private schools like Samaritan International School dedicated solely for poor families. Though children have no need to pay school fees until the school restart, the school has already fallen into crisis of existence since they are unable to obtain public financial assistance.


The director of Samaritan International School has been personally providing emergency house rent and meals to a teacher from Uganda who could not go back before the closure of Ugandan border. Besides her, the director is also feeding nine school staffs every day in addition to her own children without means of income generating. The magnitude of this urgent situation is beyond the imagination.


It is primarily crucial for 103 new students who have been waiting for this school to reopen to break the cycle of poverty and to harness the hope to sustain their whole lives by attaining the goal of the Crowdfunding campaign as fast as possible. We strongly wish this Urgent Crowdfunding to be fulfilled by Wednesday, 10th of June. We appreciate your positive replies and supports.