Founder & Executive Director
Amanda began volunteering in East Africa in 2005. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Furst is a qualified teacher who decided to use her education background to make a difference in the lives of kids in East Africa.
Since 2005, Furst has volunteered in East Africa with various non-profit organizations including Right to Play, VSO-CUSO, Youth Challenge International (YCI), and Friend of Rwanda Rugby (FORR) . She has been involved with sports programs in refugee camps in Tanzania, teaching math and sciences at a rural high school and organizing teacher training workshops in Rwanda and mentoring youth in Zanzibar. She has also written and piloted a teacher’s manual for the Grade 9 Rwandan Biology curriculum. During her time in East Africa, Amanda had the opportunity to collaborate with various local entrepreneurs and also meet Marceline Nirere and Tabitha Martin. It was through these encounters and new found friendships that Amanda realized not only the power of partnerships but also how far a little financial support could go in making a difference. Upon her return to Canada, Amanda partnered with Amanda LaBoucane to lay the foundation for GO!. Amanda currently divides her time between Canada and East Africa.
Frances is a mom, gardener, book-reader and nature enthusiast. She likes to be an active citizen in national politics.
She has a B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia where she studied Soil Science and Organic Agriculture. She lives with her family in Regina, Saskatchewan where she works as an urban and rural property assessor. She is inspired by GO! and looks forward to bringing Hero Home to life!
Tom was born in Leeds, England and graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Politics in 2006.
Currently, Tom works for a “Big 4″ Management Consulting firm and is a Chartered Accountant (CA). He lives with his girlfriend Claire, a long time friend and supporter of GO!. In his spare time, he likes to play cricket and rugby. In July 2012, Tom had the pleasure of visiting Tanzania and experiencing first hand GO! and Tabitha’s work in Mwanza.
Alicia Wolcott spent two years working and living with Amanda in Rwanda while teaching English and Business Communication at Apagie Musha Secondary School.
While there, she also co-directed the Kivu Writers Organization, a national creative writing program for Rwandan youth. Since then, she has worked in India with UNICEF on a case study of the Bangalore Rural District implementation of the Total Sanitation Campaign, and in Ghana with UNDP as a consultant on joint programmes for Human Security and HIV/AIDS. She currently works as a Senior School Developer and Analyst for Eskolta School Research and Design Inc. in New York City. Alicia holds a BA from Brown University and an MPA in International Policy and Management from NYU Wagner. She lives in New York State with her husband and two children.
Tracy is a pharmacist and has been a strong supporter of GO! since the very beginning — when it was just an exciting idea.
Tracy spends her working hours as a pharmacist at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When not at work, Tracy enjoys spending time off at her family’s cabin in Northwestern Ontario and travelling. After having visited Amanda in Rwanda in 2007, Tracy looks forward to having the chance to visit Hero Home in the near future.
GO! PARTNERS - ST. LAURENT NURSERY SCHOOL
Founder, Director & Head Teacher
Marceline Nirere is a Rwandan mother of four and the founder of the St. Laurent Nursery School in Musha, Rwanda.
For six years, Marceline voluntarily taught nursery school to over 80 children under the age of 5 on her front porch. With little more than a bench, a couple chairs, a grass mat, and one chalkboard, Marceline was able to give these children their first and crucial introduction to formal education. She taught them the alphabet and numbers using all three of Rwanda’s languages: French, English and Kinyarwanda. In addition to the academic lessons, Marceline also focused on social development. She taught the children a variety of traditional songs and dances and allowed them to develop their confidence. In 2008, Marceline partnered with GO! to create the St. Laurent Nursery School. On a portion of Marceline’s land, the school was built and her students were able to experience being inside a real school. It has been over 10 years since Marceline began teaching nursery school in Musha and every day she continues with her goal of educating the future generations.
Nepo is born in Musha, Rwanda. He recently graduated from the INATEK University in Rwanda where he received a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Economics.
Nepo has played an instrumental role in the creation of the St. Laurent Nursery School. He has been involved from the very beginning, assisting with planning, overseeing and assisting construction, meeting with parents, translating, and teaching the children.
GO! PARTNERS - HERO HOME / NYUMBA YA MASHUJAA
Founder & Director
Tabitha is a decorated marathon runner, national marathon coach, mother and experienced child-care provider.
Tabitha has worked for numerous NGOs and in various orphanages around Tanzania. In 2009, Tabitha founded the Tanzanian registered charity, Youth Sports and Recreation Academy (YOSRA). Together YOSRA and GO! are committed to creating Hero Home. Tabitha has an unmatched ability to connect with children of all ages and provide them with unconditional love and support. It is Tabitha’s dream to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children who feel they have no place in the world.
Victor Martin is not only Tabitha’s son but also YOSRA’s Assistant Director.
Victor graduated in 2012 with a Diploma in Computer Networking from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. When he is not directly involved in Hero Home operations, he is pursuing his passion of producing Hip Hop and R&B music. He has produced music for various East African artists and currently runs his own production company, Viemsquare Records based in Tanzania.
Ella Bayne is from Trinindad. She studied architecture at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Ella served as the Project Co-Coordinator for the EGP Team that volunteered for GO! in Rwanda.
"I began working with GO! as part of a team of students studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. Brought together by a local charity called Edinburgh Global Partnerships (EGP), we were able to fundraise all the money for the St. Laurent Nursery School additions before heading out there and actually carrying out the projects. It was amazing to be out in Rwanda with Amanda and the local community. Everyone gave 110% to make sure everything got done. Working together we were able to make the most of the money fundraised by spending wisely and doing as much as we could ourselves. It was a beneficial experience for everyone involved as we learnt so much while contributing to the community in Musha. THANKS GO!"
Georgia Ramplin is from Birmingham, England. She studied at the University of Edinburgh majoring in Russian.
"I joined EGP in September 2012, and spent the majority of the year until June fundraising money as part of a group of students travelling to Rwanda to build a library for the St. Laurent Nursery School. EGP paired up with GO! and Amanda to make the project happen. Working with Amanda helped us understand how important it was to make our project sustainable. Working with EGP and GO! was extremely hands on - a very intimate project allowing us all to participate. Everyone's ideas were taken on board, allowing our project to become very personable. By being part of GO!, we were aware that every single penny of the money we had fundraised was being poured straight into the community that we were working with. The best thing about working with Amanda, GO!, and EGP was the noticeble difference we had managed to make in 4 weeks. Our fundraising and hard work was definitely worth it! The whole experience was amazing and I hope to work with GO! and Amanda in the future."
Jenni Jacob is from India. She recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Interior Architecture.
"In September 2012 I got involved with GO! through EGP at my university. Honestly speaking it was one of the best decisions I have made. The experience I had and the people I met were invaluable. GO! was a fantastic host to work with and always took initiative to make sure the project met no problems. We could all see a genuine mentality in Amanda to help those in need as well as those of us who came out to help GO!. This project would not have been so successful if it wasn’t for the team work and commitment everybody showed. I believe a huge reason for this was having a motivator like Amanda. It wasn’t always about the project. We had so much fun with the locals and Amanda is more of a friend to us now and we headed home with so many memories. I would definitely work with GO! and Amanda if I get another chance because in one word they are just ‘Inspiration’."
Yuria Inanaga is from Japan where she is currently pursuing her university studies to work in the field of International Development.
"It was my first time to visit a Sub-Sahara Africa country and to do some volunteering work abroad, so I was very much excited but a little nervous too. But what I experienced was beyond my expectations! I had fun all the way, even in the heat and with the mosquitos! I also learnt how challenging it can be to work with the local people when there are many barriers such as language, culture and customs. In order to over these obstalces I think it's important to try and get to know each other better, and in that sense I truly respect Amanda and GO!. Amanda knows the locals and their way of life very well and she can speak the language too. I don't know what we would have done without her! I'm hoping to work in the field of International Development in the future, so I will keep this in mind and make understanding and building good relationships with the local people my priority. I'll definitely come back and visit Musha again! Thank you for this great experience!"
Yii Foong Tien
Yii Foong Tien is from Malaysia. He studied MA (Hons) Economics with Finance at the University of Edinburgh.
"I spent the summer of 2013 volunteering with GO! through the EGP program. Prior to the trip, our group spent much time fundraising for the project. From bake sales to charity Ceilidh Night, everyone was working towards a common goal and I had a lot of fun carrying everything out. In the process, I pushed my boundaries and undertook a charity bungee jump in a cow onsie. It was indeed a thrilling experience for me.
Within 4 weeks, we managed to expand the existing classrooms of the nursery school to include a library and playground for the children. We got involved in the project, hands-on, from manual work like hoein to teaching simple English to the children (the kids can now sing head, shoulders, knees and toes!). At the opening of the new library and play structure, it was indeed heartwarming to see the children in uniforms. It made the final farewell even more difficult.
Living in Musha was amazing. I was touched by the kindness Marceline showed us. A truly lovely lady, I admire her tenacity and perseverance in providing these kids with a better education, which is a prime example of self-help initiative in making a difference in the community. I am already missing the rented house we lived in; eating goat brochettes, riding on the make of motorbikes, beautiful green hills of Rwanda, breathtaking views of nature, the friendly people, going for Fanta after a tiring day in the field, our weekend excursions, the simple meals we had and so many other things. These and so many more memories, new perspectives, insights and friendships, made this journey fulfilling and indeed the highlight of my year.
I am happy we made this initiative happen. The experience I gained has been phenomenal and it was more than I could have hoped for. It is impossible to describe the sense of achievement at the end of it. Working with Amanda and GO! was amazing. A tue humanitarian in every sense of the word, the commitment, devotion and geuine interest Amanda showed throughout the project were touching and inspiring. Overall there were ups and downs but it was ultimately a transformative experience for me."
Robyn & Michelle
Robyn Comrie & Michelle Wehrle both volunteered with GO! for 6 weeks in the summer of 2013. They were based at the Hero Home site in Bukama, Tanzania and spent time teaching at the local primary school and helping with Hero Home construction.
Robyn Comrie is from the town of Minnedosa, Manitoba. She is a third year University of Manitoba student studying to become a teacher.
Michelle Wehrle is from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a fourth year student in the faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg, majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in English.
"Our time in East Africa has been very eye-opening and an amazing experience that we will never forget. The people in Bukama were extremely welcoming and caring. We will never forget the friends we made and are excited to return to Hero Home in the near future." -Michelle & Robyn