I believe that with faith and commitment to my vision, I prevail in life.
And there is no doubt, I have a bright future.
I am Brenda, a university graduate.
My education walk was never easy. Every single day in school required total hard work and determination. I hated to fail and so I had to pay the price and work very hard to thrive. And with the help of God, my family and the sponsorship program, my dream was accomplished.
My primary education went well which allowed me to proceed with my studies. I joined secondary school at age 11, and from secondary 2 to 3 my grades were not good enough. And so I had to make up my mind. In secondary 4 and 5 I was determined to invest more effort and later, I realised a great improvement. I was taking a combination of History, Geography, Economics and General paper.
Joining secondary 6, the final year, I sat for national exams and I got a grand distinction in the 4 subjects. With these results, I was eligible to get a full bursary (tuition fees) from the Government and I was publicly nominated to join one of the best universities in my country - The National University of Rwanda - and this was a remarkable moment!
Arriving at the university in 2011, the course I took and the entire system was new and kind of challenging. But at the back of my mind, I knew for a fact that hard work remains the path to success.
Journalism and Communication was the four year course I attended and later, I choose the Communication option.
"According to my experience, I declare to all sponsors and to those who plan to join this program that a seed sown in a child doesn't die, but rather it matures and becomes something greater than we can imagine. "
In 2012, education fund policies changed and the government ceased the funding after covering only two years of my tuition. My family had a lot of responsibilities and was not prepared for the change. We all weren’t quite sure what is going to happen next, but I had faith to complete my studies.
In 2013, my family shared this case with the sponsorship program administrators. To my surprise, I got a sponsor - oh an incredible sponsor, a loving sponsor, who later became a close friend based on how she deeply impacted my life. She provided funds for the remaining two years.
My sponsor and I have shared life experiences, our faith, interests and future plans. Not only did she support financially but she also offered me a special gift as motivation to pursue my other dream and impact other people’s lives.
Today I hold a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Communication. Thanks to the sponsorship program that intervened and I was able to finalise very well and in the appropriate time.
Completing university to me was a symbol of confidence and great hope for my future, my family, my church and my community and at this level I can make a significant change, primarily among young lives.
I have attended and gained experience in various internships and am soon getting a part time job in a media house as a reporter (article writer). My three prime visions are to have my Masters abroad in the field of Marketing Communication, to become an international children evangelist and to be a mother one day.
Additionally, I am very much interested in music (I compose songs, play instruments, sing and dance), arts and craft (I make earrings and necklaces), sports (I jog and I look forward to swimming), visiting places for new experiences, volunteering and I plan to grow my small business.
This sponsorship program created the desire and willpower to try give back what I got. And indeed, it has amplified my zeal for working with poor kids in my village and I believe I can positively impact some or most of them.
According to my experience, I declare to all sponsors and to those who plan to join this program that a seed sown in a child doesn't die, but rather it matures and becomes something greater than we can imagine.
It is in this respect that I encourage you all to continue the good deed in any way possible. Any support makes huge difference and it establishes assurance for a bright future to the supported. One might not realise an immediate advancement in the child’s education life but I believe that continuous empowerment will eventually lead to unbelievable results.
Brenda meeting her sponsor - Lisa, Greg, and their children Kaiyla and Joshua in 2015
"My heart is full of joy, happiness and love."
Diane is a student in Rwanda, currently attending university. Compelled By Love has been able to support her with education and counselling, as like many people in Rwanda, Diane has grown up through many difficulties. Because of education, Diane has been able to get to the point where she can support herself - so amazing! Education sponsorship is such a powerful tool in breaking out of the poverty cycle, read Diane's testimony about the opportunities education sponsorship gave her...
"I grew up struggling and trying to help myself, but sometimes in the wrong ways because of my wounded heart. I struggled to be an independent and strong woman but I made things complicated for myself and others around me, so it was hard to achieve independence and strength. After counselling, I learned different ways to achieve my goals. I discovered the power in knowing myself and others, loving myself and others, to mean no harm to anyone, and renewing my passion and commitment. And now I can see the change in me and the people around me.
Before I received support for my education my job had been stopped. I was in the danger zone where I did not see hope in the future and this mentality was stuck in my head and I couldn't do anything about it. In my hardship, Compelled By Love came and gave me the help I needed - covering all my bills including rent, school fees, food and also fees for a short course in culinary art. After doing the short course, I became an intern in a kitchen at a hotel in Kigali. While I was doing the internship, the executive chef offered me a job to work with them in the breakfast section, so now everything is well with me. My heart is full of joy, happiness and love. My spirit is happy and humble in God's kingdom as I know I am a child of God through Jesus Christ.
I am very grateful because now I have work which will help me to cover all my bills and also help people to live a good life by empowering them with my testimony."
Diane has gone on to start her own business, using a small business loan to open a cafe / restaurant, while continuing her studies at university.
Her story is amazing and shows what education and support can enable someone to do! She has worked through many struggles and hardships to get to where she is today. Education is key to breaking the poverty cycle, as it allows people to reach for their goals and achieve them. It is a long-term investment but affects more than just one person - their families and communities benefit as well!
Anna is a genocide survivor.
She lost her husband and three children.
*Please note names have been changed to protect privacy.
Anna is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Her husband and three of her five children were killed during the genocide.
Anna attended the Empower program and then a Follow Up program in December 2019. Her life has changed greatly in the three months since she participated in Empower.
She said, "When I left the Empower workshop, I changed my behaviour and started working hard instead of wasting time in bed for a whole day. I had rented out my farms to people because I did not want to work, but after Empower I took them back and started cultivating so that I could survive and get money. In addition, I used the monthly RWF 12,000 I get from the Government for survivors, and invested it in the business of planting and selling potatoes."
Before Empower, Anna never felt happy because of all she had lost, and couldn't show love to her children that survived. Today, she has changed her mindset and is focused on the children who did survive, rather than focusing on what she lost, knowing there are others who lost everyone.
Anna no longer has heavy burdens to carry - she can see what is good around her and can live with her past experiences without them hurting her.
DAMASCENE & JACQUELINE'S STORY
Damascene and Jacqueline attended Empower as a married couple. When we were calling cell group leaders and local leaders to find people to attend the workshop, they said that they really had to send this couple.
Damascene and Jacqueline have been married ten years and they have three children. Things started to go badly for them when Damascene started to drink alcohol and stopped bringing money to the house. Whenever he had money, he bought alcohol. Jacqueline began to be angry with him. Sometimes, when he came back from drinking, she refused to open the house and let him in. This started slowly, but eventually, they were always fighting. They had been visited by all the leaders, police and mayor included, but no one could resolve their problems. Jacqueline lost three children to miscarriages because they fought when she was pregnant. It was like a war in their family.
On the first day of Empower, they sat in opposite corners of the room. Jacqueline was planning to leave home the next day. She had bought a pig to increase the finances of the family, but one day Damascene had sold it and brought none of the money home - that was the last straw. Jacqueline was tired of fighting and ready to leave. But on the first day of Empower, things started to change for both of them. They went home together. Jacqueline cooked food, and they shared dinner with the kids — the first time in ten years they had really shared food! Before, they would each eat alone. But they said that they could really feel the changes from attending Empower.
Through Empower, they started to share their lives, talking together and eating together.
At the end of the week of Empower, together they testified publicly that participating in the workshop had helped them a lot. They started to talk, and find the cause of their family troubles. Through Empower, they started to share their lives, talking together and eating together. Everyone could see how Empower has restored their relationship. They started to talk in a good mood at home. Now they share the bed—before they slept separately. Damascene says he can really see a change. He doesn’t go out to drink anymore. He takes beer and brings it home to share with the family. Jacqueline cooks for the family and welcomes them to eat together. They have even started calling each other, 'Cherie,' 'Honey'!
Each day of Empower, they received RWF 2,000 as a transport allowance, but they agreed to walk, in order to save this money. They made the decision to start a new life and started saving the transport fees. Other participants from their village said that they really can see the change in this couple.