Faith and Roger Shaw

Location: Mwendo, Rwanda

Faith and Roger Shaw run the Ishimwe Pioneer project, which aims to lift up the small rural village of Mwendo in Rwanda by providing world class primary school education. “Ishimwe” means ‘Give thanks to God’ in the local language.

Faith grew up as a refugee in a family of limited means, yet she was fortunate to be admitted to a very good high school in Uganda. That lucky break gave her the boost that made her the women she is today. Ever since Faith’s high school days, she has wanted to create a world-class school in a disadvantaged neighborhood. Faith is still friends with many of her old schoolmates. Her dream is that many decades from now, former students will be connecting with each other from wherever they ended up around the world to reminisce about the good old days at Pioneer.

On The Ground

Rural communities tend to lag well behind their suburban counterparts. Here in Rwanda, the almost miraculous progress visible to all in Kigali has attracted numerous investors to build good quality institutions, including children’s schools, which has been great news for city families. But there is no financial incentive to establish primary schools in the villages where rural incomes remain low.

So Ishimwe Pioneer has selected the small rural village of Mwendo in the district of Bugesera to found a world-class primary school. Families here appreciate this golden opportunity to advance their children through excellent education. We have more applicants than we can hope to admit, but we do the best we can.

All pervasive poverty means that even working parents struggle to pay our modest school fees. We end up looking for sponsorships to make up for the shortfall. Our goal here is to enable the next generation to reach their full potential, and if that causes us some financial headaches, then we will struggle through.

The sixth year group of primary school students graduated in 2021 with 100% of the pupils passing their P6 national exams.

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