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Located at the foothills of Rwanda's Virunga mountain range PREFER is helping Rwandans to live a better life.  After working with Roz Carr at Imbabazi Orphanage, Cathy Emmerson a Canadian living in the Northern part of the country realized the great need for a program that helped the community while also complementing the government run programs. 




The PREFER School is located at the foot of the Virunga Mountains, 3 kms from Musanze.

PREFER school employs 12 teachers, 9 assistants and a baker.


  • 227 students attending classes  3 grades of Nursery through Primary Grades 1-6  attending school Monday - Friday 8am - 4:30pm

  • Nutrition break is served every day at 10am, it is the quietest time of the day.                                                   

  • PREFER's volunteer program provides much welcome assitance to the teachers


For more information on the preschool please contact



Adult Education and Lifeskills:

PREFER supports 3 women through a 10 month seamstress course. Upon graduation of the course the women are gifted a sewing machine.  PREFER pays 6 months rent on a small shop to help them get up and running with their own, independant sewing business.

The goal is for the women to work as a cooperative to take some wages for themselves and save some money toward the purchase of a second and third sewing machine.  In this way, we are promoting their own small business, enabling them to be self sufficient.  In addition, we are teaching them how to help each other reach success.

House Building:

                   Before                                            After

PREFER began in 2006 renovating or finishing houses. By 2008 we were building the entire house and in 2019 we began adding a toilet and kitchen, beds and bedding as well as installing solar.

How can a family get out of poverty if they do not have a door to lock, or a roof that is more holes then roof that lets in the rain and destroys everything they own?

$3500.00 buys a safe home with cement floors, 3 bedrooms and a living room and changes the lives of the entire family. A kitchen, right outside the front door, allows the family to cook outdoors regardless of the weather and it stops them from cooking inside the home which makes the walls and roof black and fills the house with smoke that has everyone in the family coughing.  The toilet is at the side of the house and has a cement floor with pvc piping draining into a septic.

The first funeral I attended after moving to Rwanda was for a 2-year-old baby. He had crawled into the drop toilet and fallen between the logs. By the time the men had uprooted the logs the baby had drowned. I began building toilets very shortly after that funeral.

first bed ever (1).jpg

Solar Project:

PREFER began installing solar in 2010 to our 10 house subdivision “umudugudu”.

I had been treating too many children with burns on their arms and legs from candles and kerosene lanterns while doing their homework. In Rwanda day breaks at 6am and the sunsets at 6pm putting us in darkness.

$100.00 buys a solar panel, 3 lights, a telephone charger, the necessary wire and cable and pays for installation.

I knew having light would help the family but the benefits are far more than I first imagined. We followed the children from the first 10 homes that were installed with solar and found that the children’s grades improved by 10 – 20%, a noticeable improvement. Another bonus is the family no longer spends money on candles. Kerosene or charging their phone and does not have melted wax to scrap off their furniture. We installed solar to Mama Thierry’s home last year, extending her day well passed 6pm. She started selling a variety of vegetables outside her front door, today her living room is a fully stocked grocery store. It has improved the lives of the entire family.

To date PREFER has installed solar to over 100 homes.

Etienne was so excited.jpg


We are thrilled that we met our goal of 4 new classrooms and a block of 5 toilets by April 2022.

Our new goal is to build a library. Musanze district has a population of 400,000 people and no library.

The students of PREFER school will use the library (equipped with computers and internet connection) during the weekdays and we will open the library to the public, and students from other schools,  on weekends.

There is a library in Kigali that has a on-line look lending program which will open up a wide variety of materials for our students and teachers.


PREFER accepts volunteers throughout the year to assist with our various projects. A volunteer’s length of stay varies from 2 weeks to 3 months.  There are a number of ways our program is assisting with health and education in our District.  

January 2007 was the opening of our preschool in Gashangiro, 4 kilometers from Ruhengeri. Our 2021/2022  school year has 227 children in attendance. We have 11 Rwandese teachers on staff but volunteers are very much needed and appreciated, sharing life skills and knowledge with both the students and teachers. We hold adult classes many afternoons offering the local population English lessons, traditional dance lessons and parenting/hygiene seminars. We hold a small medical clinic on the school ground to treat all students and many of the neighboring families. Ailments range from small cuts, skin fungus and infected ears to burns and more severe cases. Anyone with medical knowledge would find this work very rewarding.  

Your help with these children will be invaluable. To be acknowledged and heard gives them self confidence, to be educated opens doors they did not know existed. PREFER has a home repair project for widows and teenage head of household. The family home is outfitted with new roof, windows and door as well as insulation. This project is seasonal because of our heavy rains.

It Is An Honour....

In April 2010, Cathy received the Governor General Award for her work with the Rwanda PREFER Socieity.






  • Send a donation through PAYPAL (click on Paypal to link to our account).

  • Cheques made payable to Rwanda Prefer Society can be mailed to:

        Rwanda Prefer Society. Please email for current mailing address

  • Directly deposit through Vancity Savings Credit Union - Account # 160200 - Branch 29


  • Send Electronic Fund Transfer to Vancity Saving Credit Union Account - Institution No. 809, Transit Number 16490, Acct# 410160200   email:


  • Please be sure to include your name, email and mailing address with all donations.


Rwanda PREFER Society is a registered charity ~ Canadian Charity No. 80591 1518 RR0001

**Donations in Canadian funds over $25 are eligible for a tax receipt.**



Please contact Rwanda Prefer Society in Canada
email -
Phone: 604-313-4849  


This account was established in acknowledgement of PREFER's non-government-organization (NGO) status in Rwanda.


Please include your name, email and mailing address with all donations.

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