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Oklahoma Christian graduation means new hope — and girl power — for Rwanda

Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba and her daughter, Gaelle Nsengiyumva, at Oklahoma Christian University. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Blogging live from Oklahoma City
I attended a breakfast meeting here at Oklahoma Christian University for organizations with interest in the African nation of Rwanda.
It was great to see representatives of organizations including Water4 foundation, Teaching in the Son and Rwanda Outreach and Community (ROC) Partners — and Terry Neese of the Peace Through Business initiative.
It was especially encouraging to hear from some of the Rwandan students who attend Oklahoma Christian through a presidential scholars program. (See our story about the creation of the program during a 2006 visit to Oklahoma by Rwandan president Paul Kagame.)
The university graduates its third class of Rwandans on Friday, April 27. Currently, 60 Rwandans are enrolled at OC — many in engineering or science- and math-based programs that will equip them with skills to use in their homeland.
Gaelle Nsengiyumva is one of them. She attended the breakfast, though she had to step out for about a little more than an hour to take her last final exam. (She informed me that she scored “only a 94” on it.) Nsengiyumva graduates on Friday with a degree in computer engineering and will get some practical experience as she works in a simulation lab for a computer company in Pennsylvania.
Nsengiyumva helped found an organization in her homeland called Rwandan Girls Empowerment. The organization seeks donations to help Rwandan girls attend school and complete their education.
Here’s some information about the group from its website:

The idea came about because we realize we have opportunities that most girls in Rwanda do not have, the most basic being education. We want to give back to our country by providing opportunities for underprivileged Rwandan girls.
The goal of Rwandan Girls Empowerment is to increase the number of girls who graduate from high school in Rwanda by creating a network of donors to sponsor the cost of high school education and volunteers to run programs to empower the girls.

Nsengiyumva has a strong role model in her mother —  Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba, vice president (deputy speaker) of the Rwandan senate. Gakuba was in town for her daughter’s graduation and said she couldn’t be a prouder parent, she said.
She also lauded her country’s efforts to help the poor, citing a report that shows a 20 percent drop in Rwanda’s poverty rate in recent years.
“I feel at home in this city,” Gakuba said. She also thanked Oklahoma Christian for its efforts to help Rwandans gain the skills needed to rebuild their nation and serve as leaders for its future.

  • Feedback
    I would like to be kept informed about the activities of the Rwandan Girs Empowerment. I am a 1969 OC(U) graduate and currently on a 3 week trip to South Sudan where we are wanting to establish a Christian Vocational Boarding School.
    Dennis Cady
    April, 26 2012

    I am proud of you my cousin Ga�l, congratulations … Yes,continue that way to promote/empower our sisters through quality education and develop our country,Rwanda. Thanks to our leadership,proud to have our mother amongst.
    I pray for protection and blessing of our almighty Lord.
    Best regards.
    Benoit KALISA
    April, 27 2012

    What happened in Rwanda was tragic and victims not wanting to talk about their experiences can be a coping mechanism (not a good one, but one nonetheless). I have heard that after natural or man-made disasters teams of mental health professionals are deployed to administer psychological first aid. Granted the help is a little less medical and a little more organizational but often these professionals give people more individualized attention and a listening ear or shoulder badly needed in a stressful time. These groups aren’t perfect but they provide a service needed. Had such groups been sent to Rwanda sooner (if at all) perhaps less of the survivors would feel so isolated or the need to just block out or glaze over their experiences. Unfortunately, research has shown just because someone doesn’t want to deal with an issue doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Those unresolved issues can have severe and long lasting effects.
    May, 23 2012

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras

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