The future is looking bright
by Yvan Rubengebenge (Operations Manager, Rwanda)
In my position, I regularly take our visitors to Gashora, to learn about different government interventions to lift people out of poverty. I couldn’t imagine that one of those visits would change a life forever – the life of a girl from the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology.
Gashora is a sector located 60km southeast of Kigali in Bugesera District. Historically, Bugesera was considerably affected by the Tutsi Genocide in 1994. But one school in Gashora is aiming to increase education opportunities for girls in Rwanda. The Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) officially opened its doors in 2011 with 90 female students; it is a boarding secondary school. The vision of this school is to offer a high quality of education in science and technology, as well as to train girls to become future leaders.
In May 2012, twelve students from Hamline University together with two academic faculty members, Prof. Melissa Embser-Herbert and Kari Richtsmeier, visited Rwanda to learn more about Restorative Justice. While designing their program, we included a day trip to Gashora. The highlight of the visit was the time spent at GGAST. The group was welcomed by Peter Thorp, the headmaster and founder of GGAST. He explained the link between gender and education in Rwanda and the school curriculum, and later on the students had the opportunity to sit with the Gashora girls and share lunch. The Hamline students were amazed at how the Gashora girls were individually inspired. Some of the girls wanted to become astronauts, engineers, entrepreneurs and doctor, after they had completed their studies. The students from Hamline could see hope and ambition in their faces; they understood that these girls were truly committed to becoming the future of the new Rwanda.
Indeed, the entire delegation was wondering what they could do for these dedicated young girls to make their dreams come true. As a result, the officials of Hamline University decided to offer a full scholarship to one girl from GGAST, based on individual applications from the GGAST students.
In November 2013, another delegation from Hamline University traveled to Rwanda to officially give the scholarship in economics to Linda Umwali. Linda will begin her studies in the fall of 2014. According to Peter, Linda is among the first group of girls to graduate this year from GGAST. He added that Linda will inspire other girls and will come back to Rwanda to serve her motherland.
I was personally touched by Linda’s speech. She was so thankful to GGAST for the quality of education she received there, and was grateful to her parents for always being next to her in life and supporting her no matter what. She was thrilled to be going to the USA and to have been granted such an amazing opportunity for her to study at Hamline University. Linda vowed that she would make everyone proud, and she is confident that she will come back to Rwanda and contribute to the country’s economic development in the future. She mentioned that she wants to be Rwanda’s Minister of Economics and Finance one day. I believe Linda belongs to hundreds of women in Rwanda who are working hard to develop this beautiful country, a country where gender equality and girl’s empowerment is being actively promoted. When I saw Linda with that certificate that she had worked so hard for, I told myself that Rwanda indeed has a bright future.