These Numbers Have Faces

Every student has the power to build a hopeful future. We invest in Africa's brightest youth to lead and empower their countries. While media statistics often paint a negative picture of Africa, we see Africa as full of life and color, light and opportunity. We believe there are people behind the statistics. A number is difficult to connect with, but when we see those numbers as real people, we find a purpose that compels us to action.
Oct 12, 2015

Returning as a Leader: Alice's trip to DRC

Alice, These Numbers Have Faces scholar
Alice, These Numbers Have Faces scholar
This summer, five of our scholars were invited to attend the Africa Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF) in DR Congo! AYLF is an organization that aims to nurture the next generation of African leaders through trainings on leadership qualities, values and principles. This year's theme was "Leadership and Relationship - Peace and Reconciliation." 

The event had a big impact on our students. For one, however, her greatest takeaway was a renewed sense of hope.

For, Alice, one of our electrical engineering scholars in Rwanda, it was her first time back to DR Congo since her family fled due to conflict 18 years ago.
 
At first, Alice said her family was worried about her going to the conference, still scarred by the trauma of the past. But they also sensed this was an opportunity for Alice to return to her home as a rising young leader with the potential to bring positive change there in the future.

When Alice arrived to DR Congo, she was struck by the range of people who surrounded her -- youth who, like herself, were striving for higher excellence, who were choosing to pursue their education, and use their voice to speak about freedom, peace and justice.

Listening to the main speakers, and during discussion groups with fellow attendees, the message was clear to Alice: to be an effective leader, you need to be proactive, accept change with integrity, and make sacrifices to serve others.

"We have to see the invisible to believe the incredible," Alice said. "Sometimes it will seem impossible, but we must do it to serve our community. From my side, I have chosen to be a servant leader. I now have hope that one day I will return to my home and empower my country."

Alice was able to attend the Africa Youth Leadership Forum in DR Congo thanks to the supporters of These Numbers Have Faces - thanks to you!
Jun 23, 2015

Her first plane ride: Alice's trip to India

She wrapped her fingers around the plastic handle of a green rolling bag.

Alice had never owned a suitcase before. And until then, she had no need for one. For 18 years, Alice and her family have been living in a mud hut in the Gihembe Refugee. After violence forced them to flee their home in the DR Congo, seeking safety in the refugee camps in Rwanda was the last time she had crossed borders.

Rolling the suitcase through the rock-covered courtyard, Alice looked up and smiled. A new journey was before her, and this time, crossing borders would not be a matter of escape, but a matter of adventure.

At the end of January, Alice, a freshman engineering student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, took first place at the university’s science competition. 

While Alice believed in the value of her hard work, she was stunned. Just a year earlier, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to attend university. When These Numbers Have Faces heard of the brilliant students in the Gihembe Refugee Camp, Leadership Loans were offered to 12 of Gibehmbe’s brightest students — Alice was one of them.

Being supported through her time at university was a victory unto itself, but winning the science competition was beyond her wildest dreams. Things became more unbelievable when she discovered her prize for winning the competition — an all-expenses-paid trip to India to represent her university at an International Information and Computer Technology Conference!

Alice went to visit Tina, These Numbers Have Faces International Programs Director, to share the incredible news. Together, the two rejoiced.

“Do you need anything?” Tina asked.

“A bag and a suit.”

Tina reached for a green suitcase, which had been given to her by a friend, hoping Tina could find some use for it. Handing it to Alice, Tina realized this green bag had been meant for Alice all along.

The journey from Kigali to India was a long day of travel — but Alice said the six-hour plane ride was one of her favorite parts of her journey!

While in India, Alice attended various workshops and meet other engineering students from around the globe. She was immediately impressed by how engineering is changing India. It gave her hope for what she will one day be able to do for her community in Africa.

Now that she is back in Rwanda, Alice said she sees her university classes in a new light.

“The trip inspired my studies, and now I have a connection to other students who I can share ideas about engineering. I’ve learned that with hard work you can dream big, because everything is possible!”

Apr 8, 2015

Healing Hearts in DR Congo: Eddyne's Internship

Eddyne doesn’t remember much about her birthplace.

Her family called the DR Congo home for more than 40 years, yet when ethnic conflicts forced them to pack their bags, Eddyne, only 6 years old at the time, was left with few memories of Congo.

Rwanda would be her new home, now, and it has been home for the past 15 years. It’s where she and her siblings have played games to pass the time, where she began her education, and where she grew in deep connection to her neighbors as she worked with Rwandan genocide survivors.

From an early age, Eddyne was drawn to people’s stories. When someone spoke to her about their challenges, she listened. It didn’t matter how old the person was, or where they came from - Eddyne wanted to listen to them all.

‘Does everyone have a heart that opens to those experiencing pain?’ Eddyne wondered, for it was truly the case for her.

She can’t pinpoint it to one moment, but Eddyne has always known that she was meant to be a counselor.  When it came time to choose her course of study at university, psychology was the obvious choice.

Throughout the last four years at the National University of Rwanda, Eddyne has learned countless skills in her classes that have helped her better understand how the brain works, and how debilitating emotional trauma can be.  

Beyond the classroom, Eddyne has also had several internships with international counseling organizations.

Little did she know that one of the most profound experiences of her education was waiting for her back in her birthplace in the DR Congo, where she would intern with Gratia Counseling Centre.

In December 2014, Eddyne went to North-Kivu, a city in eastern Congo that has been ravaged by violence and political unrest.

Listening to the children's stories and walking with them through painful parts of their past solidified for Eddyne that this is exactly what she is supposed to do - help heal the hearts of those who feel broken.

Eddyne shared with us more about her decision to study psychology and stories about her internship in the DR Congo. We are so excited for Eddyne’s future and thankful that she is investing in the lives of African youth!

How did you decide to study psychology and counseling?

I decided to study psychology and counseling for three reasons:

1. There were many people in my country, and still now, who needed psychological assistance to survive, including my friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors because of genocide consequences and other past experiences.

2. I realized that despite how people had been in miserable life circumstances, psychotherapy and counseling would release them so they could restart the normal way of living.

3. People trust me and come to see me for advice. They told me that I could be a good psychologist, so I decided to start in clinical psychology.

How did you choose your internship to work with children in the DR Congo?

I chose to go to Congo because in different conferences I attended I could hear people from there telling about psychological disorders due to everlasting wars and conflict, especially in youth. I was motivated because I wanted to help my neighbors, but also to learn from caregivers about their strategies to keep their people alive. I went to Gratia Counseling Centre and I have been in Congo two times - for an internship and community service.

What were some of the most powerful moments from your time in the Congo?

I met a young boy who had participated in different criminal actions and he was there to give testimonies of how the school center helped him to change attitudes and to heal his heart. I was at the same time scared to hear what he did to innocent people and also thankful to God for His work in his life.

How has your internship confirmed or directed what you want to do with your future?

I have learned that helping people with psychosocial problems doesn't only require knowledge and skills, but also interest, empathy and engagement.  My experience from there and challenges I’ve experienced will help me to become a good clinician and later a good psychotherapist.

How has the support from These Numbers Have Faces prepared you for your internship and university courses?

Since I was accepted to be a These Numbers Have Faces scholar, my life has changed. I can realize my dreams because of the support I receive. For example, I think it would not be possible to go to Congo if These Numbers Had Faces had not sponsored my internship to Congo and my other academic internships are well done because of These Numbers Have Faces facilities. I am thankful I can now see how some of my goals are achieved.

Eddyne couldn't have said it better -- when we support each other, we help each other rise! 

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