April 27, 2015

For Asifiwe, a 18-year-old girl, being young isn’t an excuse for not earning a small income.  Her dream of becoming a doctor was born with her dad’s support. Unfortunately, he died when she was still in primary school and her mother couldn’t afford to send Asifiwe and both her brothers to school. Yet Asifiwe didn’t let the shocking moment of losing her father and her family’s limited resources ruin her future. Instead she worked hard and showed her mother that she deserves to go to school.

Asifwe recounts, “If it wasn’t for my chicken breeding business, I wouldn’t have finished my primary school or gotten this opportunity to be a Komera scholar. The money from selling the eggs couldn’t buy me everything but I could at least afford buying basic supplies like pens, notebooks and soap. My mum would take care of the rest.

Growing up, my dad was suffering from rheumatism. The condition was common amongst people in my community and I knew that if I studied hard and became a doctor, I would be able to treat the people in my family and my community. I did not academically qualify for the courses I needed to take in order to be accepted into medical school. However, with the Komera scholarship, I am now pursuing accounting. I am happy because the skills I am gaining will still enable me to contribute to the wellbeing of my family and my community.“

Asifwe is part of The Komera Project – a program that provides school scholarships to young women who wouldn’t otherwise be able to continue their studies. You sense deep love and determination when you meet the Komera scholars, particularly when they talk about their studies, community and future. Yesterday, Resonate was honored to spend time with 15 students who are recipients of the Komera scholarship as part of an ongoing leadership training. We were following up with them on community projects that Resonate supported them in designing during their school holidays in December. Over 4 days, we covered different topics that aimed to prepare them to become future leaders. Community leadership was one of the topics that was developed in order to give the students an opportunity to be involved in community development and to start learning by doing.  They broke out into teams geographically and, with Resonate’s assistance, they had time to discuss and identify the challenges their community is facing and come up with solutions that they could implement using small funds they were given by Komera. We met to see how far each team has gotten with the project after three months of implementation.

One of the teams is called Isonga (Always On Top), and is made up of 5 students who have chosen to create a project to reduce poverty. With the help of local authorities, they identified the 6 most disadvantaged families and provided them with goats and financial literacy trainings. Those families meet on the 15 th of every month and each one of them puts 500 RWF into their savings fund. “We want them to develop a habit of saving and investing. We were worried that they may stop doing this once we were gone to school but they didn’t which is something that shows us that they are committed to improve their lives,” said Claire, one of the team members.

Where there is a will, there is a way. These students are eager to learn and be the change they want to see in their community. No matter how challenging it is to carryout a project while being a student, they tried to involve their parents and local authorities so that they can assist with their projects while they are away studying. There is nothing better than working with smart, young people who are aware of how much they can accomplish if they get together and work hard. Despite their young age, these students understand they have to be proactive in finding solutions to their own challenges. At Resonate, we are honored to have the chance to work alongside them and support their development as they grow into the compassionate leaders that we know they will become.

Megan Madeira