Umutara Deaf School, Nyagatare, Eastern Rwanda

Umutara Deaf School was established to help young deaf people to have an education and develop career opportunities. The deaf children follow the Rwandan school curriculum and are taught in sign language. They are also provided vocational training in tailoring, carpentry and building. The school is located in north east Rwanda close to the Ugandan border. It was introduced to Bees Abroad by Isobel Blakeley.

Bees Abroad was contacted as the school now want to train their students in beekeeping. You do not need to be able to hear or talk to keep bees. A group of 4 students, 5 teachers and 2 local beekeepers were given a weeks training in 2018. This included making top bar hives to add to the local cylindrical hives. The tailoring teacher can now make veils for beekeeping which will be sold across Rwanda and perhaps into Uganda.

Bees Abroad is also working with the teachers to introduce beekeeping into the school curriculum, one lesson a week for the 3 oldest classes. This will include science, literacy and numeracy, art and drama, agriculture, tailoring and woodwork.

Bees Abroad has purchased a small piece of land for the school which will be used as a training apiary. This provides a safe site for the students to learn, is away from the local children who were playing close to the hives at the school, and is at adistance from fields which are cropped by local farmers and sprayed with insecticides.

Into the future

The school has a lot of plans for the future of beekeeping including training young deaf adults who live in the surrounding villages and setting up a honey processing centre and shop in the local town, Nyagatare. Bees Abroad will work with the school to help them achieve this.

Project Facts at a Glance

  • Location – Umutara Deaf School near Nyagatare, Eastern Province, Rwanda
  • Population – 267,000 in Nyagatare District
  • Local NGO – Umutara Deaf School and Friends of Handicap in Rwanda
  • Project managers – Dawn Williamson and Paul Bloch