I will not let the school down: 18-year-old fruit vendor celebrates fully funded scholarship
On May 19, The New Times published a story about 18-year-old Amina Uwikuzo whose photo made rounds on social media, as she sat by the roadside, concentrating on her books while at the same time selling fruits to support her family. We visited Uwikozo and her family in Rwampara, Gikondo sector in Kicukiro District to get her story after the photo captioned “at work” which was first shared by social media user Tito Harerimana on May 14 touched the hearts of many. Subsequently, the story attracted many people who were amazed by Uwikuzo’s sheer determination, and reached out to offer her support, among them, the director of Rwamagana Leaders School, which has offered Uwikuzo a full-board scholarship. Amina Uwikuzo visited the dormitories and classrooms to see how students go about their studies. On Tuesday, Uwikuzo and her mother, Marciana Mujawimana and Harerimana, who first posted the photo, along with The New Times, visited the Eastern Province-based school, where the administration official offered her the scholarship. Moses Ssenyonjo, the director of the school, says that he first came across the story on The New Times’ Facebook page and it touched his heart, and it is then that he brainstormed with colleagues on what could be done to support Uwikuzo. “I read the story and it really touched me, that’s how I decided to reach out such that we can offer her a scholarship,” says Ssenyonjo, adding that Rwamagana Leaders School has initiatives to support brilliant children from vulnerable households. “When you read her story, you see a future that is not supported. Like other students the school supports, Ssenyonjo says the scholarship offered to Uwikuzo is full board because they understand students come from different backgrounds.
“In the case of Uwikuzo, we want to move with her on this journey, starting from S4 to S6. The school supports children in different categories, including those picked from the streets or those coming from poor families that cannot afford school fees but have the will to study. Ssenyonjo says that Uwikuzo’s case is a special one because it was brought to their attention through the media, unlike other cases. The sponsorship includes a termly fee of Rwf351, 000, amounting to an annual tuition of Rwf1, 053, 000. Ssenyonjo explains that the idea of offering her a scholarship was to bring her to a safe space where she can focus on her studies, and protect her from the risks emanating from the society she currently lives in. “As a school, we are bringing her into a secure environment where she can grow and prosper and that is the assurance I can give her mum,” Ssenyonjo says, adding that they are an organised institution and have been doing this for a while. He says there many other girls who joined the school like Uwikuzo and have gone on to become successful individuals, starting NGOs or charities and travelling the world. The director says that all they want to see is Uwikuzo succeed in her education and career and maybe in future, pay back by supporting others like her. The school is one of the best performing schools in the country and offers students different academic opportunities while training them in key interpersonal skills, language proficiency and public speaking, among other abilities.
Uwikuzo had an opportunity to tour the school and see for herself the different facilities including, classrooms, laboratories, dormitories and sports amenities—things she has never. One could easily tell that this is an environment she has never been in, seeing other children using computers, in neatly pressed uniforms, going on about their studies. She did not know what the next step after O-level would be, but the gesture has offered her an opportunity to envision the future by fully focusing on her studies. A random photo taken by a stranger has completely changed Uwikuzo’s future and that of her family, yet for her it was simply a routine. Her mother does two jobs to support her children, and is also over the moon following the offer, which will at least relieve her of the burden of paying Rwf24, 000 in school dues. She has also been able to receive support from different people who were touched by Uwikuzo’s story and her determination to make enough money to help her mother establish a sustainable business. According to the Ssenyonjo, most of the students who graduate from Rwamagana Leaders School end up in the best universities abroad, in Rwanda or in the region and go on to excel in life.
Read full article at The New Times