In 2007, Christopher Shale first visited Rwanda to work on a social action project in Kigali. A team of 43 volunteers spent two weeks working alongside communities still recovering from the 1994 genocide. Those with specific skills were given tasks in the education, health, justice, community and private sectors alongside local partners such as SURF, a 'survivors fund' supporting survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
The project now runs each summer. It has helped deliver English language courses to 5,000 Rwandan primary school teachers and 1,300 national examiners. Volunteer doctors and nurses have seen over 5,000 Rwandan patients. Business seminars have benefitted hundreds of Rwandans in the tourism and handicraft industries. The result is a tangible, lasting legacy in Rwanda.
Christopher played a central role in the project's success, volunteering each summer from 2007 until 2010. He was a former British Army Officer, businessman, Chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association and cricket enthusiast. His untimely death in the summer of 2011 came shortly after he had begun working on the idea of building a much needed home for Rwandan cricket. Christopher witnessed the growth in enthusiasm for cricket in the country, and realised that facilities were sorely lacking.
The Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation continues in Christopher's memory.
"Christopher's greatest achievement with SURF was his involvement in leading the development of the Education into Employment programme which is now supporting hundreds of young (genocide) survivors to secure jobs on graduation from university. Without his enthusiasm and belief in the programme, it would never have been extended beyond the original two week phase of Project Umubano." SURF Survivors' Fund, Rwanda