From Seattle to Nyamata: lessons from a Good Samaritan

It is amazing how inspirational people can be. I recently travelled East to Nyamata in Bugesera district where I met Jessica Markowitz, the president of Richards Rwanda.

It is amazing how inspirational people can be. I recently travelled East to Nyamata in Bugesera district where I met Jessica Markowitz, the president of Richards Rwanda.

Like many philanthropic endeavours, Jessica, 14, was inspired by a personal connection, a Rwandan aid worker who stayed with her family during a U.S. visit to discuss reconciliation in Rwanda.

Richard Kananga told her about Rwandan girls without parents, mired in poverty and at risk of being sold into servitude and contracting HIV.

“So someone’s got to do something,” Jessica said in an interview with a Seattle publication, two years ago.

What she did was research, create a five-minute slide show, then hand out 70 applications for a new group after showing those slides to her sixth-grade class.

A year later, the group had four fundraisers, a vice president, a treasurer, a secretary and a saleswoman, all drawn from Jessica’s class.

Their Rwandan counterpart, Kananga, started with 12 girls and now Jessica fosters 22 girls all of whom go to Nyamata Primary School.

She says that her project aims at achieving different goals among which are educating young girls to help them acquire a better future. She hopes to do this through building a better library for the school where the girls study from.

The project also aims at helping the girls realise the importance of education because if they are not helped right now, their lives will be put at stake.

Jessica says when these girls are helped at an early age they will acquire leadership skills which will help them become good leaders in the future and in their families as mothers.

One of the key goals of the program is educating friends and families in Rwanda and through this initiative people will be in position to carry on with the same spirit to whoever is needy.

Since there is great need for helping, Jessica greatly believes that when the girls are helped they will grow up with the same spirit and in the end tell their children the importance of helping one another.

 I was so impressed on seeing lots of things given to these young girls from Jessica herself and other sister girls from Rwanda. They included soap, books, clothes, sanitary pads, pens, shoes and many others.

She also aims at connecting other girls whom she works with in the US to come and visit their sisters in Rwanda.

While in the US, Jessica and her friends raise funds by washing people’s cars, sell cookies and chocolate, act plays on stage and  play various games that raise funds, to mention but a few.

“Most of the girls have no parents but at least they reside with their aunties and uncles. To me what counts most is giving them education and in the end they will be able to build their own homes.” She said.

My biggest concern is how other people feel touched about us when we are relaxed even when our sisters need us the most.
Let this young girl be an eye opener to us all.

Yes we need help, but how best have we been helpful to ourselves is what counts.

The author is a teacher at Kagarama secondary school
shebs10@yahoo.com

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