While some teachers prioritize financial gains and economic demands, Marthe Uwimana, a dedicated primary school teacher at Gatsata Catholic Primary School in Gatsata sector, Gasabo district, Kigali city, has a unique story to tell. Her reason is simple: “I love spending time with children more than adults,” she confesses with a warm smile. Uwimana was born in 1971, Ryama village, Giko cell, Kayumbu sector in Kamonyi district, southern province. Since 1995, she has touched the lives of countless young minds, some who have gone on to become doctors, teachers, executive secretaries, soldiers, businesspersons and even prominent leaders. Her influence extends far beyond the classroom, as she played an instrumental role in shaping the future of the Rwandan community. ALSO READ: International Teachers Day: Teachers share lessons, experience in profession In an exclusive interview with The New Times, the 52-year-old and mother of four, shared joy about teaching, how she dedicated her life to education, and her reasons for doing so. Excerpts: What inspired you to be a professional teacher? I have loved teaching since my childhood and wanted to have a positive and inspiring impact on children's lives. I love spending much time with children more than adults. So, during my Ordinary level I did mathematics and physics and decided to pursue a career in teaching during my Advanced level. However, at the time teaching was a popular and readily available profession, well paying off, thus, many people studied education not just to become teachers but also as an entrance door to other jobs. After Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, many professionals were not paid since many institutions of the state had collapsed. Why didn’t you give up? I finished my High school in the same year and in January, 1995, I started teaching at Giko protestant primary school. Back then, people didn’t work for free anymore. Fortunately, my first salary was Rwf12,000 which was considered good money at the time. Since I had a strong desire to teach and loved working with children so much, there is no way I would give up my dream job, which I might even call it a calling. ALSO READ: Pay rise for teachers will boost retention –Ngirente Tell us more about your journey so far, what subjects are you teaching? At Giko Primary, first term, I taught Mathematics, French, Kinyarwanda and sports trainer in primary four before moving to teach primary six in the same year and teaching similar subjects. I spent four years there. Later on, after getting married, I was transferred to a neighboring school, G.S Gihogwe Catholic where I was teaching in primary three for over two years. After that, I taught primary two for almost three years before moving to teach primary five for five years. After spending there almost 10 years, I was later transferred here in 2008 up to date. 28 years is a long journey, pupils you taught are now in good positions in different careers. Are there any good examples of them? How do you feel? What next after your retirement? I feel so proud and fulfilled to see how far they have reached. There are definitely plenty of them, some are doctors, teachers, executive secretaries, soldiers, businesspersons and even prominent leaders. It is rewarding to know that I played a huge role in their journey. I will definitely venture into business or farming. ALSO READ: Education ministry sheds light on teachers’ pay rise Teachers used to receive inadequate salaries, how did you survive? I believe in cooperation. This was our mode of surviving for so long. I and my colleagues jointly worked together in community based savings and credits groups. All these made surviving easier and would provide access to meet financial demands and other economic challenges. My four kids were able to go to school. Two have graduated from University and the rest are yet to finish but close to. I also have my own home. Have you ever borrowed from Umwalimu Sacco, how did it benefit you? Umwalimu Sacco came as a solution because they offer loans such as Emergency, Salary advance, mortgage, Iramiro, Medical, Business, Agriculture loans to mention but a few. All these offers have facilitated our financial goals, and most of them do not require having collaterals. ALSO READ: Inside Umwalimu SACCO’s socio-economic drive Recently, teachers’ salaries were increased, Is it enough? Although it came as a surprise, I was happy and grateful compared to how the situation was. Now I can access a larger percentage of the loan, which is a different story before the increment. The government took a good step unlike before where low salaries made the profession less attractive and seemed abandoned. What are you grateful for? And what challenges do you think need to be addressed? I am happy with how far I have come, numerous achievements including awards for excellence in education, community involvement and others. Also, the countless young minds I was able to nurture and perhaps paved their brightest future. However, teaching nowadays can be tough because children often seem less focused and serious than before. Parents no longer give essential care to their kids. Instead, they let them watch cartoons on TVs which can be risky. They should turn the clock back to their responsibilities rather than relying solely on babysitters and TVs to raise their kids. Education is made up with three important pillars: students, teachers and parents. Teachers are doing their parts whereas parents don’t.