During my trip to Rwanda for my new job (details here!) I spent several days on the campus of the Akilah Institute for Women. While a bulk of that time was spent learning about the organization through more formal meetings, I also had the opportunity to get to know the Institute faculty and staff through an upbeat and energizing all staff meeting.
This was only my second or third day of work with Akilah so I almost started to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting all of my new Institute co-workers at once. Lucky for me the mood of the all staff meeting was light hearted and everyone was so friendly and welcoming to me! I’m actually really glad that I was able to introduce myself to everyone right from the start so that they would recognize me on my next trip to Kigali or if they saw my name pop up on an e-mail from Hong Kong.
During my time on campus, a couple of the Akilah teachers were also kind enough to let me sit in on their classes (shout out and thank you to Lisa for organizing and to Stanley and Terry for welcoming me in to their classrooms). It was great seeing a small part of what our Akilah students experience and it was especially wonderful to get to know a few of the students.
The young women I spoke with asked lots of questions about me, my role with Akilah, and what I thought of Rwanda so far, but they were also very open and enthusiastic about sharing their interests, backgrounds, and what a positive impact Akilah has had in their lives.
The personal impact Akilah has on students, alumnae and their communities, is evident both locally and nationally.
After a horrific genocide in 1994 that killed an estimated 800,000 men, women and children over only 100 days (not to mention the violence that occurred before and after the genocide), Rwanda has made amazing progress in many ways.
In 2015 Rwanda ranked #6 in the world* for gender equality. To put this in to perspective, the US ranked #28 with France (#15), Switzerland (#8), and Denmark (#14) also behind. 64% of Rwanda’s politicians in office are women (the US boasts only 19%).
As if my first week of work wasn’t motivating enough, meeting with these students and understanding the larger impact Akilah is making made it extra special for me even after returning to Hong Kong.
Reminder– We’re hiring! Check out the job listings here