Scottish teacher raises money to build kitchen in Africa

Kari Spence in Rwanda.
Kari Spence in Rwanda.
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An inspirational teacher who has been raising money to build a kitchen for children at an African school has been out to see the new facility.

Kari Spence set up an appeal to raise money for the Rwandan school so that starving pupils could be guaranteed a hot dish.

The 24-year-old from East Lothian raised more than £2,000 to build a kitchen at the Faith and Hope Academy, as well as kit it out with pots, pans and plates.

The teacher started fundraising for the initiative last year and thanks to a donation from Removal Services Scotland (RSS) she hit her target figure faster than she thought.

She has just returned from the school in the village of Gako, in the rural district of Bugasera, and said watching the pupils tuck into their first school meal had been a life changing experience.

She said: “Driving up to the school for the first time and seeing the kitchen made me feel extremely excited, and felt quite overwhelmed that we had been able to make this happen so quickly.

“Felix the head teacher at the school was so proud of his new kitchen and he couldn’t wait to put it into action.

Many of the children at the school are living in extreme poverty - under the shadow of the 1994 genocide which saw the mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu’s, and Kari said having a hot meal made a big difference to their lives.

“The day we launched the food programme was a day we will never forget. It was incredible to be there helping with the preparation of the porridge, cooking in the big woodburn fires and finally being able to help serve the porridge to the children for the first time.”

She added that a hot meal made a huge difference to the pupil’s energy levels, with one teacher saying “it is the most energy and enthusiasm I have ever seen the students have in the classroom.”

The kitchen building project, called The Food Programme, is just the latest in the line of initiatives the teacher has come up with.

Back in 2012 Kari founded a project called Together in Sport Rwanda, which aims to improve the life opportunities open the school children in the country.

At the moment there is only enough funding for each pupil to have a hot meal once a week.

However, the charity’s priority for next year is to raise enough money to feed every pupil every 

Together in Sport Rwanda are holding a fundraising event on Thursday 21 July at Dirty Martini, Le Monde on George Street, Edinburgh, from 7:30pm.