At least 500 students from 17 schools across the country gathered at King David Academy in Kigali for a three-day Scholars Mentoring Conference.
The conference, under the theme; “Harnessing Transformative Leadership Values and Giving Back to Community,” aimed at giving vulnerable young girls the foundation of life skills with a sense of self-esteem, self-awareness, transformative leadership skills, and academic excellence through career guidance.
Edgar Atuhaire, the programme coordinator of the Mastercard Foundation scholars programme at FAWE Rwanda, said the programme brought together Fawe/MasterCard Foundation sponsorship beneficiaries to create a platform, where the scholars can share their life experience and get inspired by the motivational speakers.
“The conference is aimed at enabling these girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, share their stories to help them overcome inferiority complex that they have when they socialise with students from wealthy backgrounds. We bring these speakers to inspire them so that they can compete with others from different backgrounds,” Atuhaire said.
The holiday conference programme is provided by FAWE Rwanda in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation.
Eugenie Mukanoheli, the national coordinator for FAWE Rwanda noted that the conference helped students interact with different facilitators and motivational speakers from different walks of life.
“These skills are an important component in the girls’ lives because they complement their education in school. To be well rounded they need to have skills on how to live a purpose driven life. It’s a holistic approach and they need motivators to speak to them about life so that they can achieve great without struggling,” she said.
Yvonne Sezibera one of the beneficiaries of the programme from Kayonza said she learned to have self motivation as well as give back to community.
“The motivational speakers shared their life experiences with us which is quite similar with what we are facing. We were taught not to concentrate on our past but focus on the future and live a purpose-driven life and was also encouraged to give back to community,” she said.
Her comment was echoed by Emma Marie Uwimana a Senior Five student from ISF Nyamasheke also a beneficiary of the programme.
“I needed these life skills outside class and to socialise with other students from different schools. It has enabled me build my confidence and know myself. I have also learned that its my duty to contribute towards the development of my country,” she said.
Judith Kaitesi Katabarwa the vice chairperson of FAWE Rwanda board noted that through self-discovery sessions, scholars would have an opportunity to explore and understand themselves and their peers.
“Our aim is not only to help students through educational programmes but also take them through life skills and mentorship. They have teacher mentors to monitor them. We want them to come together and have a sense of identity as well as understand these values together as a team and share good practices from their different backgrounds. This will help to grow their interpersonal relations as well as help them know their relevance to community, family and their peers,” Kaitesi said.
The sessions involved teachers, mentors and motivational speakers such as Rwanda’s envoy to Ethiopia Hope Tumukunde, Rwanda’s first female pilot Esther Mbabazi among others, who spoke to girls about leadership and ethics, achieving academic success, building healthy relationships, health and lifestyle choices, and managing finances for accountability, among others.