For Immediate Release
Wellspring Responds to Urgent Needs in the Face of Earthquakes on Rwanda-Congo Border
27 May, 2021, Langley, BC — The Wellspring Foundation for Education, which has offices in Canada and Rwanda, will respond to an urgent request for support from the Rubavu District in Rwanda, the border area affected by the Nyirigongo volcano eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo and subsequent, ongoing earthquakes affecting both countries along the border.
Alongside other agencies, Wellspring will provide sleep mats and hygienic supplies to hundreds of displaced people from the Goma region where homes were destroyed by the lava flow.
Although most staff and their families have now left their homes in Rubavu town, a small number of Wellspring staff have stayed behind to respond to the need in the area. Other Wellspring team members will continue to reach out remotely to schools and school leaders in the affected sectors, for the time being.
“The remaining members of our team will continue to work in Gisenyi [in Rwanda] for as long as possible to support our District partner as they help displaced people from both the DRC and Rwanda with very real needs during this tumultuous time,” says Wellspring Country Director, Libby Karanga-Miles. “We had hope that the worst was over earlier this week, but the quakes have picked up again in intensity, frequency and duration. People in the region feel a great deal of fear each time there is a tremor, with very real concern of another eruption.”
“Over the past 15 months, Wellspring has pivoted our program to support the government of Rwanda’s Covid-19 response efforts,” adds Wellspring CEO, Kevin Dixon. “The Nyirigongo eruption is yet another crisis for a region already hard hit. Wellspring will continue to respond with practical assistance, especially for the most vulnerable families.“
Ongoing earthquakes reaching a magnitude of 5.3 at the border area of Rwanda and the DRC have caused significant damage to infrastructure and buildings in some of the areas Wellspring works, including many schools and Wellspring’s usual training centre in Gisenyi town. Figures from 26 May, 2021 show that nearly 300 houses have been destroyed and more than 800 houses damaged in Rubavu due to the earthquakes.
The earthquakes also reignited fears that the nearby Nyiragongo volcano will erupt again, after initially erupting on 23 May, 2021. The last time the volcano erupted was 20 years ago when it caused major destruction in Goma.
Thousands of people fled to Rwanda from the DRC to seek safety from the volcano’s lava flow. Many of the Congolese have since returned home, but hundreds remain displaced in Rwanda. In addition, more than 150 children were also separated from their families and more than 170 children are feared to be missing, according to UNICEF.
About The Wellspring Foundation for Education: Through its flagship school development program, the Wellspring Foundation for Education works to empower the next generation through quality education for thousands of children in Central and Eastern Africa. Founded in 2004, Wellspring believes that quality education is only possible with the investment of an engaged community: leaders, teachers and parents. This approach has helped transform 134 schools, empowered 3,300 teachers, and positioned 195,403 students for a brighter future, with evidence of the program pointing to decreased dropout rates and vibrant classrooms. Learn more at thewellspringfoundation.org/our-work