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."



When Time is Your Worst Enemy: Two Weeks Left and a Lot Left To Do.

01 Aug

 

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The new Sini Sanuman soap with the logo

I cannot believe that I have two weeks left in Bamako. It seems like it was yesterday that I landed here in Mali. Just when I finally started to know my away around, bargaining prices like a local, and being fully accepted by the rape survivors at my host organization, Sini Sanuman, now it is time to leave. These last two weeks feel like school finals week.  I still have to help women to produce soap that I will help them ship to the United States for sale and also assist them to put a system in place to sell soap at local hotels, while helping them maintain the quality of the soap. I am also still working on the logo, which the women are extremely excited about; their soap would bear the logo of the organization, which brings them a lot of pride.

 Also, I am still in the process of putting shelves in the storage room, to help the women stay organized and work more efficiently.  I am also helping the Sini Sanuman team with their midterm report; they are struggling with the report, but it is important because their funds for the next cycle depend on it. I wish I had more time. It seems like my work should have been at least a six-month rather than a ten-week program. The worst part is that there is a new group of women whom I wished I got more time to know as I did with the other group that just left the center.

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New shelves for Sini Sanuman center

I am also leaving the organization in a very uncertain situation. Mali is in a state of emergency due to the recent armed conflict that claimed lives of Malians soldiers. More armed conflicts continue to take place in the north, where families have been forced to flee their homes. International intervention remains minimal except for the French, who maintain an imperial hold on Mali and have a lot to lose in these conflicts.

For many Malians here in Bamako, life seems to carry on with little worry.  As a survivor of genocide, however, I can’t help but think that Mali could be the next Rwanda or the next Darfur. I remember when my mother told me that right before the war took place in Rwanda, the idea that people would be fleeing, leaving everything behind except the clothes on their backs, was unthinkable, but it happened. Today, as I look at the children playing and running around and at the men and women who continues to engage in their daily activities, I am heartbroken at the thought that a war that is tearing communities and families apart on the other side of the country could soon reach them as well.IMG_1810

While I am on the way to meeting some of the goals I set up for myself for this project, I realize with each passing day that there is a lot of work that goes beyond my work plan.  As the conflicts continue, more women continue to be victims of armed sexual violence. This has caused the Sini Sanuman centers in Bourem, in the north of Mali and Bamako, to take in more women, pushing them to exceed the number allotted. I cannot, however, do much because my time here is limited.
I am, however, hoping with the remaining two weeks to help promote peace by helping to empower women who not only represent the social fabric of Mali but who are also the most vulnerable in armed conflicts, like the one that Mali is experiencing. Such empowerment includes making the products that they are making, like soap, more international by selling it to people in the United States, while raising awareness to the reality of armed sexual violence.

Survivors watching the soap making process

Survivors watching the soap making proces

Since I have been here in Bamako, I see how extremely important women are to society. They are the caregivers, business women, entrepreneurs, agriculturists, who work while carrying their babies on their backs all day. I have not seen women seating around drinking tea all day as men do here. Every time as I see a woman sitting, she is sitting in front of her business, as a fruit and vegetable peddler, a cook, a vendor of a variety product. My goal is to help my host organization to continue to empower these women, who I see hold the future and well-being of Mali in their hands.

 

Posted By Rose Twagirumukiza

Posted Aug 1st, 2016

6 Comments

  • Hannah Chi

    August 5, 2016

     

    Wow, Rose this blog post has me feeling just an overwhelming host of emotions. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you and the women at Sini Savon for an incredible and professional logo. Hopefully the report also comes along as well! Your blog post also served as a reminder that many people are still at risk of becoming refugees and many women are being sexually assaulted every single day. The global community must take active measures to stop this. Finally, you’re right– I think there is something to be said about a 6 month fellowship program!

  • Wanjiru Kinyua

    August 16, 2016

     

    Rose, Your blog touched my heart…I appreciate your well written blog. Your engagement with those women is truly rewarding and fulfilling even to the reader. Keep impacting lives wherever you go.

  • Nicole Bibbins Sedaca

    August 22, 2016

     

    Rose: I’ve gone back and read your blog posts. Amazing engagement and unquestionably changing lives. I hope that your transition back to the States is smooth. I look forward to seeing you soon!

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