Outside of a house in the lush Rwandan valley, little feet thumped along a red dirt road.
It was a seemingly typical afternoon for Jeanne d’Arc, the middle child in a family of three girls. Most days, her home buzzed with the laughter of siblings and neighbors playing games, the clatter of pots and pans as her mother prepared the evening meal. As a computer-engineering student at the National University of Rwanda, Jeanne d’Arc was often busy with her books, deep in her studies.
Today, however, was beginning to feel different.
In the distance, she could see them coming, a van filled with several of her classmates and a group of Americans. They were to be her family’s guests for a meet-and-greet of sorts -- or so she thought.
Jeanne d’Arc introduced her mother and siblings to their visitors – among them, Justin Zoradi, the founder of These Numbers Have Faces. Several years ago when Rwandan government scholarships were cut short, Jeanne d’Arc thought her dreams of finishing university would be, as well. However, when she heard of the opportunity to receive a Leadership Loan and support through These Numbers Have Faces, her hopes were rekindled. For the last two years she has been a These Numbers Have Faces scholar.
When Justin asked everyone to gather around for a special announcement, Jeanne d’Arc watched as cameras were pulled out of bags, neighbors coming out of their homes to see what all the commotion was about.
Standing beside Jeanne d’Arc, Justin began to speak about These Numbers Have Faces’ new partnership with Amazon and Lab126, which manufactures Amazon’s innovative tablet, Kindle.
“What we’re so excited to announce is that Jeanne d’Arc has now been fully funded by Lab126,” Justin said, revealing a certificate with Jeanne d’Arc as the Lab126 Scholar. “And this company has also offered Jeanne d’Arc an internship next summer in California.”
Jeanne d’Arc brought her hands to her eyes, wiping the tears that began to roll down her cheeks.
For a young woman from rural Rwanda, the opportunity to intern for one of the world’s leading technology companies was never supposed to be part of her story. As her desire to help her community through the power of technology has grown over the years, however, Jeanne d’Arc could only trust that those dreams would someday come to fruition, even if she wasn’t sure how.
As her mother and sister came to join her in front of the now small crowd, Jeanne d’Arc began to realize the potential of what was to come.
Yes, this was an unlikely story, but Jeanne d’Arc knew that this story was indeed the beginning of her own – the story of a future filled with hope.
Watch the video of Jeanne d'Arc's internship surprise here! http://youtu.be/dObY2bmXXJA
**Jeanne d’Arc and the staff at These Numbers Have Faces are so thankful for her opportunity to work with the engineers at Lab126 in summer 2015. This week, Jeanne d’Arc took time to talk with us about her inspiration and what she hopes to learn from her internship.**
Have you always been passionate about technology?
Yes, I have been passionate about technology from the time I was in high school. I would say the internet started my passion, because every time I would get access to the internet I would fall in love with every bit of a computer, thus creating my passion for technology.
Did your childhood influence your desire to pursue a college education?
Yes, my childhood influenced my desire to pursue a college education because I could see how much my parents struggled to put food on the plate for me and my siblings until they went back to school to get a degree, which made me realize that a college degree, or education in general, can change your life.
When did you first get the idea to create an app to help Rwandans buy bus tickets via their mobile phones?
I first got the idea of creating a mobile app last year in an innovation competition. I got my inspiration from my dad because he always tells me that I should always try and do something that can help other people.
When Justin told you that Lab126 was offering you an internship, what was the first thing you thought of?
Honestly, I don't even know what was thinking. A lot of things were running through my mind like, ‘What if this is all a dream? What if it's really true? Is this really happening?’ But all in all, I was so happy beyond measure and I am still glad that I have this amazing opportunity.
What you expect to learn from your internship? How do you think it will help with your future?
I expect to learn a lot from my internship, like learning more about how Lab126 manufactures their products, connecting with people that can help me in any problems that I may have, and boosting my work experience.
I think this internship will help me in the future because after this internship, I suspect that I will have learned a lot of things that I may have never known, otherwise. This will greatly improve my skills, which I believe will lead me to a bright future.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your inspiration and hope for the future?
I would to tell all my fellow people to always have hope and trust in God because there is nothing we can do without his love, grace and Mercy.
I would like to tell everyone that hard work is the key to success. No matter how smart anyone is, without hard work, nothing amazing can be accomplished.
Be a man of your word.
It’s a lesson Duma learned from an early age growing up in Eastern Cape, bouncing from house to house when tragedy struck his family, a value practiced even when needs were great and resources few.
With little access to electricity, clean water, and some days, food, Duma’s childhood was spent working hard to support his family: mother, grandmothers, aunt and sisters.
When he wasn’t helping out at home, Duma poured himself into his studies, believing that if he excelled he could one day go to university.
With the help of a Leadership Loan from These Numbers Have Faces, Duma is now studying chemistry at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
While his college studies have him some 1,000 kilometers away from Eastern Cape, Duma is still closely connected to his home. In fact, his dream of bringing positive change there is stronger than ever.
Last year, when Duma learned about the high rate of rape and murder of women and children in his hometown, he was appalled.
According to a humanitarian news organization of the United Nations, there is an estimated 500,000 rapes committed annually in South Africa. The country also has one of the highest incidents of child rape in the world.
The facts and figures were a devastating reality to Duma.
“Every time I hear or read on the media about crimes against children and women, I just get touched and feel that this is not OK,” Duma said. “After all, we live in a country where we say we are free, but some people are not, as they fear for their lives and sexual purity.”
As a brother to two younger sisters, as a son and grandson to women who had sacrificed so much to raise him, Duma refused to let the statistics go unchanged. He was determined to do something about it.
Despite the distance and the long hours required of his studies, Duma conceived the idea of a protest march in his hometown, Sterkspruit. More than a demonstration by the community, Duma wanted the event to be an opportunity for men to stand against the crimes committed against women.
With support from his friends in Sterkspruit, Duma wrote to the Department of Social Development and contacted local law enforcement to obtain permission for the march.
Some days it seemed as if the march was a distant dream, too much for a college student and his friends to carry out. But Duma persisted, determined to fulfill his promise, to be a man of his word.
On the day of the march, a bright September morning, Duma and other men from his community walked through town, holding a banner that read, “Stop Women and Child Abuse.”
Together, they demanded mercy and morals.Together, they challenged men to serve as protectors.Together, they called for change.
At the end of the march Duma handed the police station commander a memorandum he drafted. A journalist was close by to capture his words on live radio.
In his message, Duma stated,
“As men of Sterkspruit at large […] we need to change our behavior […] this march is not a complaint to the civil servants or any governmental department, but a call to us to restore our dignity. Let us bring back ubuntu in us.”
Ubuntu is a sacred word in South Africa meaning compassion and humanity, a word that Duma believes can change his community. We believe so, too.
Duma plans for the march to be an annual event until the abuse of women and children in his community has been eradicated.
“I want to have another one next year because I want this to sink in people’s minds that we need to have peace with one another and morals as men,” Duma said. “Even Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took Nelson Mandela and other heroes years of fighting for this freedom we are enjoying today.”
Duma serves as a role model in his community and we feel so fortunate to know him as a These Numbers Have Faces scholar.
In a crime-riddled Johannesburg neighborhood, a young girl found security in words.
The words of her mother – a single parent working to support her family, a woman who has always been quick to offer encouragement and raise up leaders in her community.
From her mother’s example, Jaime’-Lee knew she wanted to be an advocate for other women struggling to succeed in the male-dominated society of South Africa.
As a These Numbers Have Faces scholar in her final year at University of Western Cape, Jaime’-Lee is on her way to doing just that – the first in her family to graduate from college, majoring in law with plans to become a human rights attorney.
In July, Jaime’-Lee and Busisiwe, a These Numbers Have Faces alumna, were able to share their stories with a group of outstanding female leaders at an event by Dermalogica, a women-owned, internationally acclaimed skin care company with business in South Africa.
Dermalogica’s mission goes far beyond physical beauty. Their foundation, FITE, Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship, is all about empowering girls through education as a means to fight poverty and strengthen communities.
FITE recently joined forces with These Numbers Have Faces to provide financial support and mentorship to several of our students in South Africa. They even raised $11,000 for These Numbers Haves Faces during the inaugural Kaya FM 67km Relay in honor of Nelson Mandela!
These Numbers Have Face and Dermalogica’s FITE are kindred-spirits. We believe girls in Africa are worth fighting for – for the education of those like Jaime’-Lee, for their limitless potential, which we believe will transform their communities.
And because, well, Beyoncé put it best: “Who run the world? Girls.”
During a recent interview with Dermalogica, Jaime’-Lee spoke about the importance of women’s empowerment in South Africa.
“When you’re successful, that energy should be projected. It should bounce off other people and then they are inspired, and they are happy, and they can reach their goals. That’s how we become one.”
Jaime’-Lee has the kind of energy we want to be around.
Join with These Numbers Have Faces to empower students like Jaime’-Lee.
Together, our support shows that we believe in them. We believe in the future of Africa.
In February, I had the pleasure of meeting Alice, an intelligent, persevering and extremely inspiring young woman. Alice exemplifies the passion and dedication of our students. We are thrilled to welcome her into our family.
We walked down the dusty, narrow, winding spaces between each shack. We passed clothing lying out on bushes to dry; dishes waiting to be washed in dirty water; and children staring wide-eyed at us. We followed closely behind Alice as she smiled and shouted greetings to her neighbors, who smiled and shouted right back.
Finally, we arrived at a one-room hut, the size of a typical bedroom in the United States.
"This is it. Please, come in. You are welcome here."
Alice ushered us into the home she shares with seven others, none of which are her parents. Brought together because of loss, these distant relatives make up their own, unique family unit. There was a makeshift clothesline attached to the walls that served as a closet, draping each family member's few outfits. There was hardly room to walk; the bed and piles of belongings took up most of the floor, but we squeezed in to explain why we had come to this Ugandan slum in the first place: to accept Alice as a These Numbers Have Faces scholar.
Alice is the sole provider for the seven other members of her family. However, even with these hardships, she's studying accounting at the best university in East Africa in the evenings and spends her days (eight hours each day, seven days each week) balancing the finances at a local bar to pay for rent, food, and her siblings' school fees. Without money for transportation, she spends over two hours walking from home, to university, to her job each day. And with a large family, she's the first to sacrifice her dinner when there isn't quite enough.
Alice's love and selflessness is overwhelming. In the short time we spent with her, we realized she personifies exactly what These Numbers Have Faces stands for, including the potential to be an inspiring leader in her family and community. As we told Alice and her auntie about These Numbers Have Faces - that 75% of Alice's tuition would be covered, that she would receive top-of-the-line professional development training, and that she was part of a community that believed in her, her auntie pulled each of us onto her lap, hugging us and laughing and shouting thanks.
Alice remained fairly quiet during our visit. But as we got ready to leave and started our goodbye hugs, she turned to us and said, "I will not let you down." And we won't let Alice down either. To give to Alice's tuition, transportation, or food stipend, please consider giving to These Numbers Have Faces today. You can give Alice and her family the boost they need to escape poverty.
After graduating just weeks ago, Busisiwe has landed her first job as a business intern! Representing the first cohort of These Numbers Have Faces graduates, Busi is setting the bar high and we couldn't be more proud.
Graduating with a degree in Accounting just weeks ago, Busisiwe was determined to find a job that would put her business skills to work and provide a valuable, real-world experience. After three interviews and a lot of hard work, we are thrilled to announce that Busi is now working as a business intern for Fetola, a social enterprise and development company located in Cape Town, South Africa.
Fetola exists to make a positive difference in South Africa by stimulating the growth of the small business sector. Seeing sustainable empowerment of people as their primary goal, Fetola helps larger companies and government organizations plan projects and intiatives that empower community-based projects and NGOs.
For the next 3-6 months, Busi will be working alongside the Project Manager to assist with projects and particpate in strategy sessions. Additionally, Busi will be writing proposals, doing research, performing business tasks associated with upcoming deadlines and preparing presentations for the board.
Recognizing what a incredible opportunity this is to begin her career, Busi is already strategizing how she can leverage this experience to reach her goal of starting her own consulting business to benefit female entrepreneurs. This is just the beginning for Busi, and we are confident about the incredible direction of her future!
"Thank you so much to everyone at These Numbers Have Faces, even all of those I have yet to meet I thank you a million times. Your support, love and belief in my abilities and the potential you see in me keeps me motivated to face another day with a positive attitude. I am both nervous and excited for my new job, but to know that I have people backing me up all the way makes it easier for me."
Check out this video to learn more about Busi's story! Stay tuned for more updates on Busi and the upcoming launch of her new business website. Busi's success wouldn't be possible without supporters like you. Thank you for providing a hopeful future for our students, so that they - like Busi - can achieve their goals.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.