My first exposure to Rwanda beyond hazy memories of page three news stories came at dinner with good friends Soozi and TJ McGill. Casually, as if telling us about the PTA bake sale, Soozi mentioned that she was building a girls school in Rwanda. So, it was really incredible to be in Rwanda and able to visit the finished project some two years later.
The school was far nicer than I expected. A boarding school that will ultimately have 270 female student residents, it sits on about 12 acres on a gentle slope to a small lake. From the outside, The school is reminiscent of any small new-ish private school built in an American suburb. Low slung, nicely designed buildings surround a central courtyard. While we were there the maintenance crew was working an creating a large outdoor chessboard.
Once inside, it is clear you aren't in Bellevue. All the buildings have concrete floors, and while the classrooms are pretty rudimentary, even without the students being there (Christmas break) you feel a sense of earnestness. The students here are chosen from all over the country and are the best and brightest regardless of means and background. They all desperately want to learn to better themselves and their country.
Approximately 2/3 of the property is a farm run by the school growing some crops for sale and vegetables for the kitchen of the school. I guess some things are the same everywhere, for when the woman in charge found out I was a chef, she asked me if I had any good recipes for kale or zucchini.
The school is trying to figure out a product they could sell to help sustain the school. We had a quick brainstorm sorted through some possibilities, and landed on sunflower oil. So, look for delicious GGA sunflower oil in an African-looking bottle at metropolitan market soon!