The Final Month in Kigali, by Sarah Froehlke (MALD23)

by VManve
Aug 25

This summer flew by! It is hard to believe that this is my last blog post. Since I last wrote about submitting my education proposal and Mary Kate’s arrival, Hands of Mothers has kept busy. The first week of July entailed the continued expansion of our partnerships in Rwanda, such as Resonate and Love the Kids Rwanda. Mary Kate and I enjoyed walking around the city that weekend and exploring the sites such as an arts center and pottery store. We finished the day by watching the sunset in downtown Kigali. 

The following week (July 11), I discussed my education program proposal with the HoM staff. We decided to change the name from “Helping Hands” to “Learn and Empower Academic Program (LEAP).” The goal of the Hands of Mothers’ LEAP is to assist and empower Rwandan students ages 11 – 20 in Primary and Secondary schools who are struggling academically. While our financial capacity is limited, we plan to focus this year on encouraging parents’ involvement in their child’s education through visits with their child’s teacher and checking in with Hands of Mothers. Many studies show a direct correlation between a child’s performance and their parent’s involvement. While this is a good start to our LEAP program, we hope to expand next year to coaching/after-school tutoring possibilities for the children. 
In addition to LEAP edits, the following week (July 18), I submitted the finalized draft version of our Hands of Mothers Pathways Program. The goals of the Pathways Program are to optimize our student’s education and help them develop a pathway for post-graduation. Our Program is a 4-day series for Secondary students in years 4, 5, and 6. The Program will consist of workshops such as strengths and values assessment, exploring career paths, job matching, resume building, interview skills, and college tour visits. It was incredible having the opportunity to design a program from the ground up. I also enjoyed having complete flexibility to follow my vision for the program. I am excited to see where it goes.
During my last week (July 25), I am working on implementing last-minute edits for LEAP and Pathways as well as creating monitoring and evaluation surveys for both programs (Mary Kate will assist with this portion). Alongside my work with Hands of Mothers, I have also been doing research for my Capstone. I have chosen to research children’s books and early childhood textbooks in Rwanda to examine how they shape peace education and examine whether they have underlying political meanings. So far, I have traveled all over Kigali to collect children’s books.  
I am extremely grateful to the Institute for Global Leadership’s generosity in making my fellowship with Hands of Mothers possible. This summer has been such an empowering and life-changing experience: I will never forget it.