A life-changing trip for two Fife teachers

Suzie Mahr with youngsters in Rwanda.
Suzie Mahr with youngsters in Rwanda.

An educational trip to Rwanda has proved to be a life-changing experience for two Kirkcaldy High teachers.

Suzie Mahr and Barry Mitchell, who teach religious and moral education (RME) at the school, recently returned from the war-torn country after spending a week there working on various initiatives including a joint project on Gender Equality with the Groupe Scolaire Bumbogo school in Rwanda.

Barry Mitchell with the youngsters in Rwanda.

Barry Mitchell with the youngsters in Rwanda.

Suzie and Barry also took donations of thin clothes, baby clothes, toothbrushes and toothpastes as well as a cash collection of £336.32 which was used to buy jotters for school-age youngsters in the country.

Suzie has made four trips to Rwanda since 2008 and this was Barry’s first time there.

She said the trip, which began on February 10, was very worthwhile: “The trip was definitely a success,” she said.

“We travelled out to Rwanda with open minds and came back having built a great foundation for our partnership with Jean de Dieux Kwizera and his school, Groupe Scolaire Bumbogo. Our work with Comfort International also went very well and I was especially touched to see that the street kids at Batsinda remembered which school I was from!”

Suzie Mahr was working with the youngsters on a joint project on Gender Equality.

Suzie Mahr was working with the youngsters on a joint project on Gender Equality.

She explained how the work on a joint project on Gender Equality will be developed: “We will be delivering a unit of lesson surrounding gender equality to the S2 year group and sharing the differences and similarities of our findings.”

The donations of baby clothes, toothbrushes and toothpastes were also welcomed. She said: “These were received with such gratitude and appreciate, it was rather humbling.

“We were lucky enough to have Kirkcaldy Inter Football Club donate nearly 80 pieces of football kit which the children loved at both the Batsinda Street Kids Project and the newly formed Gasanze Street Kids Project.

“The baby clothes were especially welcome as baby clothes are extremely expensive and quite frankly out of the question for many parents’ budgets. A small outfit for a baby will generally cost in excess of £12 and in a place where the starting salary for a class teacher is approximately £40 you can see this is out of reach for many.”

Suzie and Barry with the people they worked with in Rwanda.

Suzie and Barry with the people they worked with in Rwanda.

They bought the first batch of jotters and the remaining jotters will be distributed over the next three years as required.

Barry added: “This was my first time visiting Rwanda and admittedly I wasn’t sure what to expect, however it really was a life changing experience for me both personally and professionally. The highlight for me were working closely with the our partner school in Bumbogo which I felt went really well, I’m really looking forward to helping develop this partnership.”

Suzie and Barry collected over �300 to buy jotters for school-age youngsters.

Suzie and Barry collected over �300 to buy jotters for school-age youngsters.