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Support PREFER school!

Do you want to help orphans in Rwanda get a chance to education and development - with money, a care package or as a volunteer? Read on...


For the latest news & pictures from PREFER, click here.

For PREFER's websites in other countries:

What is PREFER?

Rwanda is a country of too many orphans: kids lost their parents in one of the world's most atrocious genocides in 1994, or to HIV/AIDS in recent years. Many families are headed by single parents, or by children looking after their younger siblings. 42% of the population is 14 years or younger. Rwanda is also the most densely populated country in Africa, and despite fertile lands many people have to rely on less than one dollar per day.


Cathy Emmerson, a charismatic Canadian, has been living in Rwanda since 2001, and operates a travel agency (Karibu tours) and gift shop in Ruhengeri/Musanze (click here). Confronted with overwhelming poverty and lack of education amongst the local families, she and her husband Uwayo recently started a project named P.R.E.F.E.R. (Poverty Reduction, Education and Family Empowerment in Rwanda), supporting child-headed and single-parent families to give them a better start in life. The following cornerstones make up PREFER, aiming to support the kids sustainably and on multiple levels.


Pre-school for orphans and single-parent kids

Too many of today's young kids lost their parents to suicide, because of HIV or as a long-term effect of the 1994 genocide. They are looked after by older siblings, single parents or relatives. Primary school is free in Rwanda, so older kids usually spend the day at school. However, what to do with a small kid when the head of the household has to go to primary school himself/herself, or to eke out a living from their fields or low-paid labour on construction sites?


Cathy tackled this issue by opening her PREFER pre-school in 2007. The kids are given free classes in the morning (except Sundays), and spend part of the day on school premises playing, dancing and singing, while their family are at public (primary) school, or at work.


There are 3 classes: 5/6 year olds in class A; 4/5 year olds in class B and the babies are class C. 126 kids, currently, attend classes, and another 75 primary students come for tuition each morning. The school employs 3 teachers; they are supported by several secondary students who teach the younger pupils. PREFER also sponsors school fees for secondary students.


Cathy is supported by local men and women, some of which also have their kids attending school. The pre-school initially consisted of a row of benches shadowed by an UNHCR tarp, set in an enclosed garden, but the building of three classrooms and an office is underway.


Read here about our visit to the pre-school.


Healthcare and food

Kids get a simple meal while at the school - studying needs energy they sometimes don't have! Furthermore, one part of the PREFER school grounds is a vegetable garden tended by Grégoire, who lost this wife and now lives here with his three kids. The vegetables grown there supplement the often meagre diet the kids get at home.


Cathy and her team also provide basic health services to the kids - like cleaning wounds, and monitoring their health. In more serious cases kids are brought to medical care, at PREFER's cost. Cathy and the PREFER team also support the kids' families in questions of healthcare. 


Other P.R.E.F.E.R. projects

PREFER donates mother goats to poor families. Goats provide milk and more goats; the offspring can be sold or slaughtered, but the mother goats remain with the recipients, who need to care for them, like a living bank.


A very recent project is the PREFER Soap Making Association, gathering 25 women who were taught how to produce soap; they are currently buying materials for their first batch. The revenue from selling the soap will support their small incomes, but the association will also hone their business skills.



PREFER also started up a program of accepting volunteers for stays varying in length from 2 weeks to 3 months. See here for details.


How to donate money

Cathy and her team plan to build a proper class-room, in order to provide shelter from heat and rain for the pre-school kids - but plans are to expand the venture to include a proper school! Building will start in August 2008 if enough money is available by then. Please help Cathy and her team to build the class-room, by making a donation to PREFER!


PREFER can currently accept money via bank transfer (complicated), or Western Union (expensive). Paypal is easy to use and cheap, but does not work in Rwanda - this is why I set up this donation page, via a Paypal account in Switzerland. For the time being, you can use the "Donate" button on this page to make an easy donation to PREFER, with your credit card or cash.


All funds donated via this page will be collected and transferred to the PREFER bank account, without any deduction other than money transfer fees. Cathy will be informed of each donation.


Attention Canadians: The Rwanda PREFER Society is a registered charity in Canada. Your donation is tax deductible in Canada. Please donate at the website (click here) to donate in Canadian Dollars, and to receive an official receipt.


Send support to PREFER!

PREFER can make good use of kids gear, including school stationery, games, clothes, or sweets. Care packages can be sent to Rwanda by mail, and according to Cathy, she always received them in proper order - the Rwandan customs officials even re-packaged a torn parcel. Please contact me, or Cathy directly, if you wish to send a parcel.


Useful things to send:

  • Kids clothes
  • School stationery
  • Group games
  • Balls (can be inflated there)
  • Band aids
  • Tea tree oil - used as antiseptic
  • Mirrors or mirror foil - since most people don't have one!



Visit or volunteer at PREFER

Are you going to track mountain gorillas in the Rwandan Virunga mountains? Combine this with a visit to the PREFER pre-school - it will be an unforgettable experience for you and the kids!


Read about our own visit by clicking here, to see what to expect.


PREFER now also accepts volunteers for stays varying in length from 2 weeks to 3 months. Volunteers can help at the pre-school, build or repair homes, or teach at various schools in the district. There is usually a list of primary and secondary schools who hope for volunteer teachers for English classes.

Please contact Cathy directly by clicking here if you are interested in visiting the PREFER pre-school, or in volunteering in Rwanda.


Questions and Feedback

If you have questions, or feedback about your donation, a parcel you sent, or a visit at PREFER, please let me know via the contact form.

Last update:  00:27 08/04 2012
Donate to PREFER!
PREFER updates
1 - Flight to Kigali
2 - Kigali Genocide Memorial
3 - Drive to Virungas
4 - Gorilla Tracking Amahoro
5 - Gorilla Tracking Susa
6 - Golden Monkeys
6 - Pre-School visit PREFER
7 - Drive to Uganda
8 - Drive to Ishasha
9 - Drive to Jacana
10 - QENP Game drive
11 - Kyambura/Kazinga
12 - Drive to Kibale, Bigodi
13 - Chimp tracking 1
14 - Chimp tracking 2
15 - Drive to Entebbe
16 - Entebbe
17 - More Entebbe
18 - Too much Entebbe

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