Getting Settled in Kigali, by Sarah Froehlke (MALD23)

by MH
Aug 17

The past few weeks have flown by! I am really enjoying my time in Kigali. In the last blog post, I left off on upcoming school visits. Between June 13 - 15th, I visited 4 schools and chatted with 6 students ranging in age from Primary to Secondary school. It was interesting chatting with the students and learning what their overall experience at their school has been. For instance, I chatted with students on their favorite subject, least favorite subject, career aspirations, and what they do in their free time.

In addition to school visits, our team also conducted meetings for our other Savings and Lendings Groups. Each group has a different strategy for how they will use their money. For instance, some groups propose to keep saving, others prefer to loan money to each other, and others are saving for a training in hair braiding. I also admire how Hands of Mothers does not get involved with how the women run the group: they empower the women to have control of their finances.

During the June 17th weekend, my friends and I traveled to Akagera National Park to go on a safari! It was an incredible experience and a wonderful way to witness Rwanda’s beauty.

The June 20th week brought with it the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which is “a biennial summit meeting of the de facto leaders from all Commonwealth nations.” During this time, the Rwandan government heightened security in Kigali and some roads were closed. While inconvenient to navigate around the city at times, it was also invigorating to witness so many country leaders visit Rwanda. During this week, I mostly worked from home and met with different NGOs across Kigali in the hopes of expanding our partnerships on the ground.

The week of June 27th was equally busy. Yvonne and I met with our Director over Zoom regarding a grant for our Women’s Literacy Empowerment Program. To demonstrate Hands of Mothers’ impact in our grant application, we decided to create a survey about our Savings and Lending groups. Through our survey, we hope to see the positive impact Hands of Mothers has had on the women’s lives.

On June 30th, the Hands of Mothers staff visited the Agahozo Shalom Village, an organization that “empowers orphaned and vulnerable Rwandan youth to build lives of dignity and contribute to a better world.” We visited the Village to learn more about their education models and whether Hands of Mothers can replicate any of their programs, such as their career program for Secondary students.

This week (July 4) has started off busy! Our Economic Empowerment Fletcher intern, Mary Kate arrived on Sunday. I spent Monday showing her around Kigali. It is so exciting to have a fellow Tufts student in Kigali. On July 5th, I submitted my design proposal to launch Hands of Mothers’ Helping Hands Program. Through this program, we hope to help students struggling academically increase their performance.