Angel Bazubagira shared her graduation from Wellspring Academy with her mom and dad back in 2016. (Special to the Langley Advance)

An Angel travels to Trinity Western University to study this fall

A Rwandan student will study pre-engineering in Langley this fall.

Although Langley’s Trinity Western University draws students from the local area, across Canada, and many other countries, there is a student coming this September with a unique story.

Eighteen-year-old Ange (Angel) Mukunzi Bazubagira is arriving from Kigali, Rwanda next week (Aug. 24) to start first year university on a fully funded scholarship through donors involved with the Langley-based Wellspring Foundation.

Her arrival marks a dream come true not only for her, but for two TWU alumni, Richard Taylor and Jeff Komant.

In 2004, the two men were fresh university graduates with lofty aspirations and a big task.

The two, who had grown up as the children of missionaries in Africa, had a love for Rwanda.

They both shared a vision to help the country rebuild following the genocide of 1994.

They became friends as undergrad students and sketched out their hopes and plans for the Wellspring Foundation, which they launched it after graduating from TWU.

Taylor and Komant focused their dream on equipping the next generation in Rwanda by improving education outcomes for children.

That dream quickly became Wellspring, based in Kigali and with a support office in Langley.

They wanted Wellspring to be a catalyst – transforming education for hundreds of thousands of African children and fostering vibrant communities that address poverty in all its forms.

It’s working.

They started by building a school called the Wellspring Academy in Kigali.

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From there, the organization has grown, branching into teacher training and partnerships with other schools around Rwanda to help build capacity and strengthen the education system for all children.

Wellspring also recently partnered with the Rwandan government to help design and develop a new competence-based curriculum for all schools.

The new curriculum marks a shift in the Rwandan education system towards a learner-centric ideology; it was introduced in all schools in 2016.

“Today the Academy has 650 students in K to 12 taking an international curriculum.

Through the foundation’s innovative school development program, it is improving learning outcomes for nearly 180,000 underprivileged children in 130+ public and church-owned schools.

They are also training key leaders in the education sector through the Abundant Leadership Institute.

“We also have a significant voice within the civil society and the government policy level. Our vision now is to use Rwanda as a hub to reach into other countries in East and Central Africa,” said Taylor, who serves as country director for the Wellspring Foundation in Rwanda.

In June 2017, Bazubagira was part of the first graduating class of the Wellspring Academy.

She is now heading to Vancouver to study at TWU, Taylor and Komant’s alma mater.

Bazubagira may be in Rwanda this week, but she is dreaming about her new life that starts next week in Langley.

She joined Wellspring Academy in 2007, in Grade 3, as one of the pioneer students when the school first started.

She was thrilled to attend Wellspring because her prior school was so large – 62 students per class and five classes of Grade 3 – the facilities were inadequate and the teachers ill-equipped and often used severe punishment to achieve discipline with so many students in a room, she shared.

“At Wellspring, the environment was a total opposite of my former school. The space, the constant supply of water, fresh air, learning facilities, furniture and friendly and warm teachers were but just a few of the attractions in my new school.

“For all the years I studied at Wellspring Academy, I was never beaten by a teacher. I always looked forward to going to school. When I made a mistake, teachers counselled me and I apologized,” Bazubagira recounted.

She says Wellspring offers programs that help students develop as an all-round person academically, socially and physically.

The programs identified talent in each child and offered opportunities for growth.

Programs included dance, music, debate, sports, and subject based clubs like science.

“My passion was in sports and I played basketball,” said Bazubagira, who is also an accomplished dancer.

“One other thing that stood out for me at Wellspring Academy was the 15-minute devotions we had every morning. This was a time of worship, prayer, and sharing of the word. I had never seen or heard anything like it anywhere else. This Christ-centred education and atmosphere has shaped me into the person I am today and for that I am forever grateful.”

Now only weeks away from starting pre-engineering courses at TWU, she is gearing up for her big move.

“I think British Columbia is one of the world’s most beautiful places. I feel like every day could be an adventure with all the outdoor activities there are,” Bazubagira said.

“Coming from a small country and city, the sheer size of B.C. is intimidating. I hope to find my way around with time and a little help.”

A personal story written by Angel

Life in Kigali City

Kigali is a small, beautiful, green city with a population of slightly over one million people. When one is not climbing a hill, one is going down one. The city is so scenic! It is situated in the middle of the East African nation, Rwanda; popularly known as the land of a thousand hills. Kigali is rising from the ashes of the horror of genocide just like the rest of the country.

The people of Kigali are very friendly and hospitable. They boast of their beautiful culture in dance, language, music, art and beautiful traditional dress the “umushanana”. A visit to Kigali would not be complete without stopping by Inema Art Centre. This is a modern art gallery with sculptures, paintings, traditional handcrafts, traditional dance and music performances. The second attraction in Kigali city is the Kigali Genocide Memorial which honours 250,000 people buried there in mass graves.

Over the last two decades, a lot has been done to restore the infrastructure in Kigali. Today the city boasts of well-lit sleek, black and well maintained roads along which beautiful ornamental palm trees stand tall. Rapid growth is evidenced by mushrooming skyscrapers that tower high in the clear blue Kigali sky. Finding office and business premises is no longer a problem though the cost may be high. The city attracts investors, both local and foreign because of the conducive economic environment. The fight against corruption enhances the flow of foreign investors in the country. It is very easy to start a business in Kigali; in a matter of hours, one is able to get a business registered. The supply of water and power that had been laid to waste in the wake of the 1994 genocide 23 years ago, has been restored.

Kigali is one of the cleanest and safest cities in Africa; thanks to the “Umuganda” program in which all city dwellers participate in the city-cleaning exercise once a month. One can move around 24/7 without fear of any harm. Drivers, motorbike riders and other road users try to obey traffic rules and that makes the city roads safe. Motorbikes are a popular form of transport around the city as they can access all parts. Speed limits and safety clothing make motorbike transport safe.

Wellspring Academy

I joined Wellspring Academy in 2007. I was one of the pioneer students when the school first started. I joined its pioneer third grade class. My former school was so large. On average, there were 62 students in a stream. There were 5 streams in each grade. The facilities were inadequate for such a large population. Water, furniture, space and learning materials were in limited supply. The teachers could not meet all our needs and that hindered learning. To contain such large classes and instil ‘discipline’, the teachers used corporal. As a result, I did not enjoy my life in school and to escape, I occasionally faked sickness. I celebrated when my parents moved me to Wellspring Academy.

The environment was a total opposite of my former school. The space, the constant supply of water, fresh air, learning facilities, furniture and friendly and warm teachers were but just a few of the attractions in my new school. For all the years I studied at Wellspring Academy, I was never beaten by a teacher. Truancy from school was history! I always looked forward to going to school. When I made a mistake, teachers counselled me and I apologised.

Wellspring offered many programs that helped me develop as an all-round person academically, socially and physically. The programs identified talent in each child and offered opportunities for growth. Programs included dance, music, debate, sports, and subject based clubs like Science. My passion was in sports and I played basketball

One other thing that stood out for me in Wellspring Academy was the 15 minute devotions we had every morning. This was a time of worship, prayer and sharing of the word. I had never seen or heard anything like it anywhere else. This Christ centred education and atmosphere has shaped me into the person I am today and for that I am forever grateful.

My siblings

My eldest sister Karen, finished university last year in July. Olivia is year older than me and she is in first year at the University of Arkansas. My younger sister Grace at Excella School, Kigali.

Did your parents attend college or university? What jobs do they do?

Yes, both my mum and dad attended university. My dad attended the Strathmore College School of Accountancy in Nairobi, Kenya and my mom attended UNILAK, a local university here in Kigali. My dad is an Accountant and my mom is an Administrative Assistant.

What date do you arrive in Vancouver? Is someone associated with the Wellspring Foundation meeting you at the airport?

I hope to arrive in Vancouver in the 3rd week of August and soon as I confirm the date I will let you know.

I believe soon as I confirm the date of travel, plans will be made to have someone meet me at the airport.

Are you going to live on campus while studying at Trinity Western University?

Yes, I will be living on campus while at TWU.

What are you planning to study at TWU? You mentioned wanting to study engineering in the personal story you wrote. Are you planning to take the pre-engineering program at TWU?

Yes, I will be taking the pre-engineering program at TWU.

You wrote that you are a dancer and a basketball player. Are you interested in continuing with both while you are in Canada? Are there other sports or hobbies you are interested in trying?

I would very much love to continue both. I hope to join the women’s basketball team and dance club if it exists and I would love to perform Rwandese dance during International Students’ days.

What are your impressions of life in British Columbia now?

I think British Columbia is one of the world’s most beautiful places. I feel like every day could be an adventure with all the outdoor activities there are. I was relieved to learn that it is the least cold place in Canada. Coming from a small country and city, the sheer size of BC is intimidating! I hope to find my way around with time and a little help.

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