Gloria Uwizeyimana has joined ITF on an internship thanks to the Mastercard Foundation. Today, she has shared about her experience growing up in Rwanda and how her education and scholarships have opened up opportunities that she never dreamed of.
Raised in a big family dependent on farming in Rwanda, fueled my childhood hatred for agriculture. For instance, I thought practicing agriculture was for the poor and primitive – I only knew subsistence farming.
This farming practice is unsustainable, and keeps rural farmers trapped in circular poverty. Having to walk long distances in search of water made me wish for a home with a water tap.
This is a story I always told whenever I needed any support and it helped open doors even though I wasn’t proud of it.
But I got exhausted from telling the same story repeatedly and wished to never have to play a violin in order to get an opportunity. I have always judged myself as disadvantaged, but I have made peace with my past on understanding that it is what nurtured me into who I am today. I am hardworking, a survivor and resilient. I have made it on foreign land, foreign language and in multicultural spaces. I am favored and advantaged considering that many young girls wished to have the same advantages I had but couldn’t.
I am a girl who had petty dreams, incapable of imagining grand ventures and possibilities. I could not look beyond my entourage.
That is, until I met well-wishers who believed in a girl’s education and sponsored mine. Then I began to see the world in a different light.
Education has changed my life completely and it has never been the same since. I aspired to work in the medical field only because getting a job was easy and fast. In my mind, I wanted a career in which I would not have to face unemployment.
However, I got a scholarship through Howard G. Buffet Foundation for agriculture at EARTH University, Costa Rica. And instead of going for a medical school in Rwanda on a student loan, I chose to go to agricultural school on a scholarship.
This golden experience was one in a million, I was introduced to various agricultural opportunities not only to make a lot of money but also to impact and improve lives. It is a choice that I made from a point of financial incapacity but turned out to be the best I have ever made.
This is because through it, I got a great internship with Sustainable Harvest International in Honduras. I learnt a lot working with rural farmers, empowering their small businesses, sustainable farming practices and some data collection. After graduation, I went back to Rwanda where I obtained experience in farm management.
Through my time visiting farms, I realized that water misuse is common and frequent in agriculture therefore creating sustainable agricultural systems is necessary. I applied for a Mastercard Scholarship for graduate school and luckily, I got it!
“An educated young woman is resilient. Educating women prepares a future of resilient communities under consistent climate change hazards.”
Now that I have finished my graduate studies at McGill University in Integrated Water Resources Management, I want to focus on broadening my experiences and networks.
It was through all this experience that I heard about International Tree Foundation – I loved the proposed project on tree planting and I was happy to be able to take the opportunity to work with them.
At ITF, I am coordinating and running due diligence with tree-planting organisations across 14 cities. I collaborate on identifying such organizations and keep contacts of potential partners in each city. I work on designing tree-planting events together with the local tree-planting organisations with appropriate sites and tree species.
This project is a collaboration between ITF, Earth Day Foundation and UPS. I recognize the support of MCF transitions project for me to be able to focus entirely on this project without any disquieted. I am filled with excitement for this new chapter of my career,
I am exercising managerial potential, leadership skills and growing personally and professionally with the help of a great team I found at ITF. Finally, it has always been a great joy and fulfilling working with people directly. All the projects that I ever collaborated on whether in class or outside, I was reminded of environmental awareness.
Interning at ITF is a wonderful opportunity to familiarize myself with community-led reforestation. Ahead, I want to pursue postgraduate education primarily to break my family’s education records, and my community. And I want to become the network of opportunities to other young women with the same background.
An educated young woman is resilient. Educating women prepares a future of resilient communities under consistent climate change hazards.