Chantal Uwizera

Chantal Uwizera (Backward Society Education – BASE): Chantal was born in Rwanda and came to the US at a young age. Growing up in Rwanda and its tragic history gave her an acute sense of the importance of human rights. Chantal received her bachelor degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Indianapolis in 2006. Upon graduation, she worked with the Indiana local and state governments. At the time of her fellowship, she was pursuing her Masters at American University in the School of International Service in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program with a special concentration on human rights advocacy and international litigation. After her fellowship Chantal wrote: “The experience reminded me to take time and just enjoy the people around you… [and] to see the human aspect of child labor.”

The journey begins… (written on June 18th)

24 Jun

If anything about the next two months in Nepal is going to be like the last 48 hours, then you are all in for a good treat and a good laugh. On June 15, 2011, I decided that I had waited enough for an Indian Visa and would rather attempt to get a visa to Nepal. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a peace fellow in either country. With a flight booked for June 18, 2011 to New Delhi and no visa, I was pretty sure that I was not going to go there, let alone anywhere else. But, I figured, I never give up until I have exhausted all remedies.

So, I marched to the Nepal Embassy with a smile and a conviction that if I get to speak to someone then at least, I could know how long I should expect a response. This is the moment that I take and thank the staff at the Nepali embassy for their patience and their understanding of the fact that I had a plane to catch on June 18, 2011. Not only did they expedite my request but they also called to further assist me with anything else I needed. I was ready to depart, but had not made any preparations whatsoever. I had two days to buy all I needed, book my ticket to Kathmandu, pack and say good-bye to my friends and family.

In the afternoon, I was caught in the rain with no umbrella and a huge shopping bag with all my items for the trip. Great…. I was soaked in rain! I said to myself if this is how the monsoon season is going to be, then I cannot stop in the middle of my work because it is raining! So I marched on and cursed at the rain… I passed people who were braving the rain, albeit, they had an umbrella. One lady took a look at me probably saying: this poor girl with an oversized shopping bag soaked in rain and wearing flip flops! She offered to share her umbrella. We talked about how we hated the rain and how the weather channel is always off on the weather! (a smart lady never forgets an umbrella)

It is during our conversation that she informed me that she had spent six months in…. NEPAL!!! I am not quite been to a level of writing that can fully express how I felt. Here I am, in the middle of the street in downtown D.C, under an umbrella with a complete stranger and talking about Nepal. My day ended with a new appreciation for Nepal. Both my experience at the embassy and the lady with the umbrella sent a warm feeling. I knew that regardless of what would transpire in the next day before my departure to Nepal, I was ready and prepared and it felt right.

But what I was not ready for was the cold that I got the next day. My courageous act of embracing the rain came with consequences. I was coughing and now I am voiceless….what a good way to travel! All the medicine that I bought for Nepal was prematurely opened as I continuously took medicines so I can feel better. I was not going to let this cold delay my trip!!!! So I took lots of fluids and medicine and managed to pack. I will tell you later once I open my luggage if what I packed was important or relevant to the climate of where I am going. For now.. a word of advice is.. do not pack your luggage after you have taken Nyquil!

Posted By Chantal Uwizera

Posted Jun 24th, 2011


  • Marlo

    June 24, 2011


    You can handle whatever comes your way, Ms. C!! Looking forward to hearing more about your journey (and by the way, the are no “coincidences” ;-)).

  • Menelas

    June 25, 2011


    hhaha very interesting! all the ladies in the world should be brave like u!… n Nepal… i think it’s a better choice! i love Nepal too… some years ago i used to dream abt how “smiley” i would be when the captain would announce ” attention please, fasten ur seatbelts… we r landing at Kathmandu International Airport in five minutes…

  • Meghan

    July 6, 2011


    You are so amazing to be doing the work that you’re doing! I’m so glad we had the opportunity to run into each other.

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