St Andrews students set to help children in Rwanda

Students at St Andrews University have set up a new society to support the Children of Rwanda charity, started in 2014 by a Dundee student.
Students at St Andrews University have set up a new society to support the Children of Rwanda charity, started in 2014 by a Dundee student.
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Local students are planning to raise money to help fund the education of children in two Rwandan villages.

The Children of Rwanda charity was started last year by a University of Dundee student and his work has inspired fellow students in St Andrews to give their support.

Siobhan Fraile Ordóñez, president of the new Children of Rwanda Society, explained the background to the charity.

“Robbie Macmillan is doing his dissertation on the Rwandan genocide and last year he volunteered to spend time working in an orphanage in the country,” Siobhan said.

However, he found that the youngsters in the orphanage were better off than local village children, whose families could not afford to send them to school.

“They were well fed and cared for, but the village children had severe malnutrition, terribly thin arms and filthy clothes so ripped they barely fulfilled their purpose,” he explained.

He started fundraising and the charity was founded.

Aware that he cannot help every child in the two villages - Ngoma and Kigarama, on the coast of Lake Kivu in the western part of the country - Robbie interviewed families to find out who needed most help and 110 youngsters were selected. Sadly, the charity has already had a reminder of the harsh reality of life in rural Rwanda. One of the youngsters has since died - he contracted malaria but his family could not afford to take him to hospital.

While education is technically free, children cannot attend with paying a ‘community material’ fee, have all the uniform and equipment needed and pay for lunch.

“We cannot help all the kids but we can make a difference to each of these children,” said Siobhan, who has spent time in Zimbabwe. “I have a great affection for Africa and when I heard about Robbie’s charity, I remembered how the children I worked with would light up whenever you encouraged them.

“Everything the charity does will make a difference with generations to come.”

The St Andrews University Children of Rwanda Society is planning on a launch event next month.

Dundee-born actor Brian Cox recently became Children of Rwanda’s first Patron.

Find out more at www.childrenofrwanda.org/