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."



Training Week: From a Refugee to a Peace Advocate

27 May

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Where we are all going.

 

It was not long ago, when I was a young refugee from Rwanda, that many of my accomplishments seemed unattainable. College, graduate school, and now, the peace fellowship I am about to embark upon, were accomplishments I could only dream about.

Growing up in refugee camps in multiple countries shaped me into the person I am today and fueled my ambitions. I remember those miserable times sleeping in tents and often going hungry. But I also remember volunteers who brought us food, clothing, and medicine.Although I was very young, I was inspired by the relief workers who had left their families and countries to help us endure our misfortune. They risked their lives facing the violence and diseases that decimated the refugee camps. I made a promise to myself that if I survived these hardships, I would help others as my family and I had been helped. It seemed impossible to me at that time, but I have come to recognize that I have always had this motivation. Today, my chance to fulfill my promise has arrived.

This summer, I will head to Mali to work with women at Sini Sunaman, a Malian advocacy group for women’s rights. These women, like me, have had the misfortune of experiencing first-hand armed conflict, which has robbed many of their very existence. These women have further experienced the horrors of armed sexual violence that destroy the bond of love existing among women and their families and replaces it with dishonor, degradation, and humiliation. The end result for these women: there is no place for them within society.

rose training

This journey that I will commence within a couple of weeks will allow me to help tell their story; a story that is often buried in the myriad of other stories of armed violence. The Malian women are a living proof of how rape and sexual violence have become a weapon in many wars fought today including ethnic wars and the war on terror. These wars have contributed to the destruction of the social fabric in which women play a major role. Through my fellowship, I hope to raise awareness in Mali but also here in the United States of war crimes against women as well as the broader implications of these types of crimes and their impact on society as a whole. However, in order to effectively help these women, I need to better understand the skills necessary to become a successful advocate.

I participated in training this week, which was very challenging as it required digesting a variety of information, focusing intently for a long period of time, and quickly learning new skills such as website programming. Nonetheless, the training not only provided me with information, tools, and necessary skills but also provided me with insight regarding the many challenges and frustrations that I may come across during my fellowship in Mali.

Through photos, videos, and social media workshops, I learned that a photo is worth a thousand words and it has a story to tell. The story held within such pictures goes beyond a mere snapshot but, rather, includes a number of techniques and elements such as “the rule of third, exposure” on the subject whose message one yearns to share unerringly.

I have always used social media, but this week I also learned the impact that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can have on raising awareness or advocating for a cause. This week of training has also helped me redefine my goals and strategies for my peace fellowship that I will use to help Malian women survivors of armed sexual violence reintegrate back into their communities.

rose and maggie

My aspiration is to use the knowledge I gained in this training to increase the sales of soaps, quilts, and other products produced by these women this summer. In addition, I hope to further use this knowledge to assist the organization in opening a second center and increasing the number of beneficiaries by the end of my stay. I also hope to help the organization become self-sustainable by teaching the staff the same skills that I have learned in my training.

Not long ago, I was in need of these services; now, I am able to provide help to those in need. By the end of this summer, I want to make an impact on the lives of these women. Furthermore, I want my experiences to solidify my goal of becoming a leader in the international aid community so that I may make an impact on an even bigger group. I invite all of you reading this blog to help me achieve these goals by simply sharing my blog with others.

Posted By Rose Twagirumukiza

Posted May 27th, 2016

11 Comments

  • Amanda Reis

    May 31, 2016

     

    Awesome first post, Rose! Thank you for incorporating your own incredible story, your experiences will allow for a deeper connection with those you strive to help. Wishing you the best of luck in Mali and a safe trip. I am looking forward to reading your future blog posts!

  • Nicole Bibbins Sedaca

    June 3, 2016

     

    What a wonderful blog post, Rose. I wish you a wonderful start to what will be an amazing experience. I look forward to reading your blogs and staying connected. Send us photos and updates of the great work you are doing. You will undoubtedly have a great impact on the lives of the people you will meet in Mali!

  • Giorgia Nicatore

    June 6, 2016

     

    Dear Rose – I hope you’ll love your time in Mali as much as I did! I’ll be following your blogs closely to keep up with Sini Sanuman and their work in Bamako and Bourem, as well as your journey as a Peace Fellow. All the best to you! Giorgia

  • Sami Alpert

    June 6, 2016

     

    Rose, you are so inspiring! I cannot wait to follow your journey this summer and am sure you will do amazing work. See you back at Georgetown in the fall!

  • Lisa Kornick

    June 7, 2016

     

    Rose we are so proud of you. Have a safe and wonderful trip. We love you

  • John Steies

    June 8, 2016

     

    Inspiring stuff. It’s incredible how you’re kind of coming full circle in this journey as a Peace Fellow to assist people that you can directly connect to through your own experiences. I was a Fellow back in 2013 in Uganda, and I very much look forward to following your blog this summer. Best of luck Rose!

  • Hannah Chi

    June 9, 2016

     

    Rose, it sounds like you have some great insights, and I know that the women in Mali will be so thankful and excited to work with you. I cannot wait to hear about your journey, and I think that you have so much love and support to share!

  • Kathleen & John

    June 17, 2016

     

    Rose, John and I are so pleased to learn of your work. We were honored to meet your lovely Mother and Grandmother at Olivier’s recent college graduation celebration. You and your work make everyone who knows you so very proud. We are fortunate to be among that number and hope that many more will now learn of your journey by means of sharing this new path with the women in Mali. Best wishes for every success.

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