Project Blessing is a long-term initiative of The Stanwich School that includes the creation of a water system and a school in Cyabatanzi, a rural community in Rwanda, Africa.
Project Blessing is an irresistible story about an organization that bridges the impossible chasm that exists between the worlds of privileged, private school teenagers and the children of Rwanda. Project Blessing is unique in that it has created a long standing, ongoing relationship between our two communities, and while there exist a plethora of organizations that bring students abroad and expose them to service opportunities in developing countries, no other organization has established itself into the DNA of the school, effectively hardwiring in students the predisposition to seek, to serve and to effect change on a global level.
Hidden in the hills of Rwanda is the rural village of Cyabatanzi, which has felt the negative impact of a rezoning plan imposed by the country's government. After the rezoning, Cyabatanzi was no longer part of any of the Kigali districts that would receive support and, therefore, would not receive any funds to assist with the population growth. The government committed to finance all teacher and professional staff needed within this Cyabatanzi community; however, it will not be responsible for the infrastructure.
About Project Blessing
After meeting with the community leaders and listening to their needs on July 20, 2008, in the village of Cybatanzi, “Project Blessing” was born. The project was named by the Pastor of the Cyabatanzi Church, who is also the head of the village.
"My goal, as an educator and as a humanitarian, was to reach out to this community and to the village leaders of Cyabatanzi and to identify their specific needs and to support the goals of Project Blessing. After receiving a humanitarian grant from The Stanwich School, I was fortunate to journey to Rwanda, not only to visit the village but also to observe the needs of the community’s infrastructure. Our vision at Stanwich was to identify and support the needs of a community like this one and make that difference," Shaun Fletcher, Upper School Science Teacher, Founder, Project Blessing, The Stanwich School.
Annual Journey to Rwanda
Every June, Stanwich students and alumni travel to Rwanda to help build and support a needy community. Interacting with the people of the Cyabatanzi Village and listening to their stories reminds us all what we love about being part of Stanwich.
It truly is a life-changing event.
Goals of Project Blessing
• Build K through 6th grade school: the Blessing School
• Provide educational resources for the Blessing School
• Offer travel opportunities for students to Rwanda
• Create a culture exchange program
History of Rwanda - Rwandan Genocide
On the night of April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi - both Hutus - was shot down, killing everyone on board. Hutu extremists blamed the Rwandan Patriotic Front and immediately started a well-organized campaign of slaughter against the Tutsi. For the next three months, over one million Rwandan people, mainly Tutsi, were killed by the genocide regime.
Over the years since the genocide, the country has acquired a great sense of hope and pride. In recent years, under the leadership of President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame, Rwanda has undergone a major transformation since the genocide. As part of this transformation the Rwandan government developed the Twenty-Twenty Plan, a multi-layered strategy initiated in 2000 and set for completion in 2020.
The Twenty-Twenty Plan predicts a fifty percent increase in population by the year 2020. This would mean that fifty percent of the people of Rwanda would be under the age of twelve. Part of the plan resulted in a rezoning of districts throughout the capital city, Kigali.
Project Blessing Board
Pat Young, Chair
Shaun Fletcher, President
Jordan Alper, Treasurer
Amy Dates Carbone, Secretary
Jay Behan, Director
Charlie Sachs, Director
Elizabeth Boolbol, Director
For more information about Project Blessing, visit our Facebook page.
Shaun Fletcher, The Stanwich School