Our History with Rwanda
The Paraclete’s connection with Rwanda began in 2000 when one of its leading women leaders, Aloisea Inyumba, visited us as part of a group attending Harvard University’s Women Waging Peace Colloquium. She wondered if we could help her start a leadership school for girls in Rwanda. Aloisea saw how we provided educational opportunities and she knew their importance – she had been educated in a school started by Irish missionaries while growing up as a refugee. To her, South Boston seemed Irish enough to be responsive to her request.
The Paraclete was able to attract a wide circle of people interested in helping with the school project . Our teenagers had fundraising events and many of our Board members visited Rwanda. With everything in place for a final major fundraising push, a group of Boston women, now known as the Maranyundo Initiative, stepped up to the plate to assume complete responsibility for the school and have continued to support its operations. Feel free to visit www.maranyundo.org for additional information. The Maranyundo Girls School opened in 2008. Later in 2010, it was gifted to the Benebikira Sisters, a native order of Catholic Sisters.
In 2002, we opened our doors to welcome members of the Benebikira Congregation, who came to Boston to further their studies. The Sisters' presence in the Paraclete opened up a unique learning experience for our students and prompted over 45 Paraclete friends to accept their invitation to visit Rwanda.
The Rwandan Circles
Our ever expanding Rwandan circle has resulted in people taking on the funding of various projects. Since this project began, a group of supporters has helped the Byimana School, run by the Marist Brothers, and one family built a library for the Benebikira Schools. The Paraclete provides the administrative support to process these donations.
The Pi-Brary Collaborative was created in 2013 to bring relevant, accessible, and affordable educational materials to the schools and health clinics of Rwanda. It had a two prong approach: creating small booklets called Oksbo using the ancient art of origami, and creating an off-line digital library using the new technology of a small computer called Raspbery Pi with low cost tablets.
Our institutional structure is simple. Following the model of other open source technology communities, we are individuals and organizations from a variety of backgrounds who are contributing their skills and time in the development of a variety of educational resources. The Benebikira, a Rwandan congregation of Catholic nuns, is our institutional collaborator in country; the Paraclete in South Boston hosts a web page for us. Ongoing communication for various projects is carried on via Slack and our email, and google.docs. Our name is derived from our use of the raspberry pi computer as the content server for our digital collection.
So far we have taken three approaches: one involves the ancient art of origami to create small booklets; the second involves technology – a digital collection stored on a raspberry pi server with no need for the internet, and the third is the creation of science kits using easily obtained local materials.
The various projects are being piloted in the network of primary and secondary schools and health centers administered by the Benebikira Sisters in Rwanda. This collaboration assures that the collection meets our criteria of being affordable, accessible and relevant. The hardware associated with the project will be owned by the Benebikira congregation and loaned out to their various schools and clinics for use during this pilot phase.