A core part of life at teapigs is our ethical scheme – we’ve always been committed to giving back to the tea growing communities that bring us our much loved teas, and for over 10 years now, we’ve worked closely with a wonderful charity called Point Foundation in order to do this. Point Foundation (set up by Karen and Charles) directly supports educational opportunities for vulnerable people in Rwanda. We make an automatic donation to Point Foundation with every pack of english breakfast and single estate breakfast tea we sell, so if you drink either of those, you'll be donating (thanks very much!) We also match all donations made on our websites and, as of last year, 100% of the money from our tea school ticket sales goes straight to the charity too. So far we’ve raised over £300,000, but we’re not stopping there!
Last year, our founders Nick and Lou visited Rwanda and were able to see first-hand where our donations were going – they also got to meet the wonderful people who bring us our much loved tea. To mark the one year anniversary, we wanted to give you an update on some of the projects, including the ones we support. BUT, first up, let’s hear find out from Karen how exactly Point Foundation started…
“It all began when Charles was COO of Coffee Point, a vending operator company. They were really keen about their CSR, making aid trips to Bulgarian orphanages and donating computers and installing them at Lily of the Valley, a children's village for terminal HIV kids in South Africa. During a personal visit to South Africa in 2006 we visited a couple of schools and were so dismayed by their lack of resources Charlie decided to make the fundraising support official. Point Foundation was set up formally and registered with the Charity Commission in 2007. We called it Point Foundation as it started with Coffee Point, and even though the company has now been sold, its humanitarian legacy still lives on.”
mwogo vocational school, bugesera
One of the most challenging educational crisis Rwanda faces is with youth. Mwogo, in Bugesera District, is one of the poorest areas in Rwanda. Children and youth make up half its population, yet there are no higher education facilities beyond primary school, leaving young adults trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Last year, in partnership with Ubumwe Community Centre, Point Foundation have created a lifeline by funding the only vocational training centre in the area. The centre helps youth from the most vulnerable low income families and there are two courses to choose from: Tailoring and Hair & Beauty. Through the sale of our single estate breakfast tea, we helped fund the building refurbishments, toilet installation and 10,000 litre water tank. This year we plan to do more to make the centre the best it possibly can be – that includes raising funds so that students can have their own equipment kits (for example sewing machines, and braille machines) to take away with them so they can actually put their new skills to use.
house of children primary school
House of Children is a privately run, inclusive nursery and primary school for 700 children of all abilities. But – as you can imagine – the diversity of teaching children with special needs fully stretches limited resources. Here’s a bit more from Karen…
"The aim is for an inclusive school for abled and disabled pupils, but in Rwanda, low income parents struggling to feed a family think educating disabled children is a waste of precious money. Point Foundation's Student Sponsorship Scheme, including monthly contributions from teapigs, ensures children with special needs can get equal access to primary education at the House of Children School. This year, the school has welcomed 84 new pupils with special needs, all fully kitted out with uniforms, shoes and books. teapigs sponsor 20 of these children, and also donate curriculum books and contribute to 4 teachers wages - 3 sign teachers and 1 early learning teacher."
Point Foundation runs a disability program in collaboration with the Gallagher Trust where they manage houses that provide specialist care and accommodation for disabled children and young adults. We fully fund one of the houses – teapigs house! We provide a monthly contribution to costs to the Community Based Living Programme for 22 youth with severe disabilities at the house. This goes towards food, caregiver wages, health care and utilities. We've also raised funds for the installation of two 5,000 litre water tanks.
ubumwe community centre (UCC)
Rwandan friends Zacharie and Frederick founded UCC in 2005 with a goal to provide support and services to people of all disabilities and ages in Gisenyi. Through national and international funding support, UCC has grown to become a pioneering rehabilitation centre, removing the cultural stigma and neglect towards disabled people and successfully introducing acceptance of ‘different abilities’. The centre offers people with disabilities vocational training courses in tailoring & knitting, craft making classes, Braille lessons and other educational opportunities that give people with disabilities the chance to gain income earning skills. There’s also outreach programmes, home visits, co-operatives, a disability aids repair workshop and therapy rooms. During evenings and weekends, classrooms are open to local non-disabled people for computer and literacy lessons.
In the academic year ahead, students will have full time classes, nutritious lunches, and health, wellbeing & family planning sessions. Last year, we funded the building refurbishments, toilet installations and water tank needed to set up the centre and, through the sales of their single estate breakfast tea, we've also contributed to the welfare and nutrition of 23 street boys to integrate them back into society. Karen says…
“UCC really is the most inspiring place, run by wonderfully dedicated people who are changing the quality of life for people with disabilities. For example Angela, who is severely deaf and mute, is considered unemployable in mainstream society. Through UCC she has a deaf aid fitted, learned sign language, bead making and small business skills. Angela and three other PWDs have set up a small co-operative together, selling their beads to earn a basic living income.”
organic farming project
Point Foundation set this up to teach sustainable vocational farming skills on 5 acres of land donated by the community. The trainee farmers learn all aspects of growing crops – including battling the torrential flooding that has been battering Rwanda. Some of the harvests have fed the families, the rest sold to Mwogo Vocational School for the student’s lunches.
This year the farmers aim to set up a co-operative. Organic fertiliser is costly, so Point Foundation funds have provided 4 in-calf cows to the project, who are happily donating the organic manure! They’ll also provide milk to be shared amongst the families and the rest will be sold on to generate income to sustain and develop the project.
If you would like to make a charitable donation, head this way. Whether it's big or small, every little helps! To give you an idea of what your donations can achieve...
- $1 provides school pens for 1 child per term
- $2 provides lunch, milk and a snack at morning break time
- $4 provides a pair of shoes for a child at nursery
- $6 provides a child's health insurance for a year
- $10 provides school text books
- $20 provides a physio mattress for children's therapies or a school uniform, including day wear, sports wear and shoes.