Rose Twagirumukiza

Rose is a first year student pursuing a MS in Foreign Services at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she is studying Global Politics and Security. She is also a refugee from Kigali, Rwanda. During the Genocide in Rwanda, her family fled Kigali and spent years walking across Congo to escape conflict. Growing up in refugee camps, sleeping in tents and sometimes having nothing to eat, has shaped the person she is and her ambitions in life. Today Rose's dream is to finish her studies with a degree in Foreign Service and work for the United Nations, UNICEF, or other International Aid agency. Rose is excited to continue her Journey from refugee to an agent for conflict resolution and social change. At Georgetown University, she is enriching the insight necessary to help her realize her career and life goals of providing service to refugee and immigrant communities in need. Rose's goal is to be the symbol of unity. She is a woman who is doing something that most women where she comes from are unable to achieve due to the many obstacles they face. She speaks five languages: Kinyarwanda - her mother language, Lingala, French, English and Spanish. Rose wants to use her language skills and understanding of different cultures to bring together people of different ethnicities and backgrounds. After her fellowship, Rose wrote: "Women and children are very valuable to society yet they are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Protecting them, and giving them access to education, medical care, and opportunities to become independent and live a flourished life, should be the duty of each one of us."

The Power of Soap: Bringing a Community Together

18 Jul

This past week I was able to realize the first of the goals that have brought me here in Mali. I have been aiding women in the Rose-new soap moldcreation of a sustainable business making and selling soap. I was able to help Sini Sanuman improve the quality of the soap, so the beneficiaries can promote their soap abroad and earn more money. I was also keen to improve the quality of the soap, which we have done successfully.

When I first arrived at the center where the women make soap, I noticed that they did not have proper equipment. Women were struggling to use the equipment, and some even cut themselves with the rough edges of the molds. I proposed to Siaka (the president of Sini Sanuman) and Sylla (the director of the Sini Sanuman center) that we acquired new and better-designed molds.

rose with her mold maker in Bamako

Acquiring new molds has been challenging. However, we were lucky when Hank, my American landlord, put us in contact with Idrissa, a talented young Malian, who agreed to make molds for us.

This week, we tested the new mold that Idrissa made for us, and the results were spectacular.  The soap came out with a better shape, cleaner and smelling good. But that was not all. The best part was seeing how everyone came together to help improve the quality of the soap.

When I first arrived at the Sini Sanuman center, few people were involved in the soap project. The main participants were Aîssata, the soap maker and instructor, and the beneficiaries. Today, the soap project has extended its boundaries both within the Sini Sanuman organization and in the community in Bamako.

rose test out the new and improved soap with the new batch of beneficiaries in BamakoI was so moved this past week: I bargained with Idrissa’s partner, who agreed to charge me less than the first mold. He said he would do it for less as a contribution to the women’s recovery and reintegration into the community.

I could not help but feel joy in my heart; it has now become everyone’s fight to restore peace in Mali by helping heal the most vulnerable members of society. Hank and his interns have also been working on the logo and on the shelves, and they have helped me with some other things in this process. Sometimes, when Hank tells me that this person did this or that, I am surprised to know that I have not even met the person yet.  As word about the soap project at Sini Sanuman continues to spread around Bamako, more people of different backgrounds are coming forward and offering to help.

rose with beneficiaries in bamako

After our success with the new mold, I ordered four more to be made, two for large bars of soap and two for small bars of soap that will be sold at local hotels in Bamako. Sometimes it feels like I am not doing much, as I expressed in my last blog. But for the past week with the improvements I helped Sini Sanuman achieve, and by bringing the community together, I have been made to understand that small changes can make a big difference.

With these changes, I hope that the new group of women who we just received at the Bamako center will sell more soap, and earn more money. This would allow them to have some savings to start their own business when their six months at the center come to an end.

Posted By Rose Twagirumukiza

Posted Jul 18th, 2016


  • Laura Stateler

    July 18, 2016


    Great job Rose! It has been exciting following all the progress that you have made with the soap! First the smell and now the molds–so incredible! Hearing how the community has come to support Sini Sanuman is great and shows the impact and importance that this program is having in the lives of these women. I am excited to hear more of your adventures!

  • Rachael Hughen

    July 19, 2016


    It sounds like the engagement you’ve been able to bring in from Bamako’s community is unprecedented. Beautiful photos, looks like you’re making some great friends as well!

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