One of the highlights of this trip was meeting the six Rwandan university students who did such an amazing job working with Katie to conduct our 19 Focus groups in Rwinkwavu last spring. They are sponsored by our partner organization Generation Rwanda, formerly Orphans of Rwanda, providing each student a university education and coordinating internship opportunities with professionals, businesses and organizations.
For 2 months last April/May the students traveled out to Rwinkwavu with Katie once a week to meet separately each time with 2 or 3 different groups of community members from different villages in the sector. In addition to gathering feedback on programming needs, they served as Ambassadors for the Library/Learning Center giving us the opportunity to introduce the project, build trust and encourage local buy-in.
We gathered at the Laico Hotel in Kigali for some Mutzig, the local beer on tap, and Fanta. It was wonderful to finally meet the students and thank them for a job well done in person, get to know their stories and hear their plans for the future. We have one lawyer in the group, Yassin Nsabimana, who graduated in December and is now working in a Kigali based law firm. However, with the government’s push to advance Rwanda as an information hub in the region many of the students are majoring in computer science/business. We are planning to offer internships to computer science students in their final year of study to help do training in this area at the Center when it opens.
I found that the girls were just as ambitious and confident as the guys, which really impressed me. Rwanda is a country where 51% of the Parliament is comprised of women. The Rwandan government recognizes that girls and women are a powerful force for change. Harnessing this valuable resource will be a key factor in helping to break the cycle of poverty. We are very committed to developing girls and women specific strategies and programming.
I look forward to our continued collaboration with Generation Rwanda. One thing for sure, with young people like these, the future of Rwanda is in good hands!