How support from SOS Children's Village Gikongoro changed Emile's life

Emile comes from a very poor family in Gikongoro, in south western Rwanda. He had to quit school since his mother didn't have enough money for his tuition fees. Fortunately, care from SOS Children's Villages gave Emile and his family a helping hand.

Emile is a 9-year-old boy studying in grade 4 at the SOS Herman Gmeiner primary school in Gikongoro. He comes from a broken home. His father married a second wife and left Emile and his mother in absolute poverty. Emile's mother took up a number of small jobs to put food on the table for her family and was determined to struggle so that her child could continue with his education. Unfortunately though, Emile had to quit school as she didn't have enough money for his tuition fees. "My mother was alone and there was nobody to help us in this situation. I wondered what was going to happen to me," he says.

Emile at school front to the left. Emile at school front to the left. 

An SOS family strengthening programme care worker visited Emile and his mother and realised they were a disadvantaged family. Later on, the SOS Hermann Gmeiner primary school committee evaluated his family's living conditions and decided to provide a scholarship for Emile. "I wouldn't have been at school if not for this scholarship," Emile says; "And I want to work very hard to benefit from this opportunity. I know there are many children like me who stay at home doing nothing because their parents can't afford to pay the school fees".

Emile is described as a sociable and hardworking student by his teachers. He is a dedicated student, never misses a single class and always reaches school on time and usually gets good scores. His favourite subjects are maths, science and English: "I may not have the highest grades in these subjects but what matters is that I am interested in learning everything about them" he says "I like science because I love to learn how the human body works" Emile explains. "And I would like to become a doctor when I grow up. I want to save lives and I want to help people who are injured or sick." Emile's favourite game is football: "I am a good football player and I love running," he says.

Emile's family situation has changed for the better. His mother has also been attending various parent-teacher meetings held at the school. In these meetings, she learnt about child protection policies and the importance of education for children.

She has also been taking part in an income-generating project, which allows her to earn some money to cover the daily necessities of her family. She hopes that she and Emile are going to have a better future. "I have a lot of hope now," she says "And I thank SOS Children's Villages for thinking about people like us."

The SOS Primary School in Gikongoro has over 400 children in its 12 classrooms, nearly a quarter of who come from the SOS Children's Village and the remaining students are from the local community.

The school offers the best standard of education, with performance rates over 94 per cent. In the national examinations, the school has taken first place in the region for more than ten years. All teachers now teach in English and courses have been modified where necessary. The subject of social studies has also been introduced. Pupils at all levels receive computer lessons and extra educational assistance is also provided to students with learning difficulties.

Five clubs run at the school and the Anti-Aids club recently won an award from a local radio station.

Kristina Cato

Head of Sustainability and Communications

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