The annual Passport Lunch will raise money for the Rulindo schools, located in Rwanda, and will cost $7 per person because it is costs $7 for one student to eat lunch in Rulindo for a month. Brooke Wells, head of high school, agreed to support the Rulindo schools with the Passport Lunch after lower school music teacher Elena Bennett approached him.
“We want to focus on school charities, like Rulindo, to try to make a bigger impact in smaller areas.” Wells said.
Since 2007, students have donated and written to Rulindo students. The Rulindo schools have used school contributions to buy hogs, rabbits, building improvements, tuition fees, school supplies and lunch charges.
Bennett, who has organized several charity events and visited the Rulindo schools several times, said that one of her favorite things about visiting Rwanda is “the joyful attitude of people when they meet for meals.”
However, Bennett said that hundreds of students still do not receive their lunch of beans and rice. In a letter Bennett received from Father Onesphore Ntivuguruzwa, administrator of the Rulindo district, Onesphore said that not only are the kids who do not receive lunch hungry, but they are also “nervous.”
Bennett said that she interprets this as the kids being humiliated.
Bennett’s daughter, senior Micaela Bennett-Smith, who has also traveled to Rulindo, said that some social problems between students have come up because some get food while others don’t.
Last July, the Rwandan government passed a law requiring Rwandan schools to be responsible for providing their students with a lunch system. The government doesn’t supply the Rulindo schools with funding for lunch, so students rely on donations or pay for themselves.
Bennett’s goal is that the funds raised at the Passport Lunch will allow all students to have lunch at least until the end of their term in May.
“No one in Rulindo’s little corner of Rwanda ever dreamed of any kind of relationship with American schoolchildren, much less financial help from them.” Bennett said.
“But over the years they have told us that they feel enormously blessed by our attention, and I believe them.”