Alexis Nadin is a student at American University and former intern at GlobalGiving. This summer, she is traveling through Africa and visiting a number of GlobalGiving projects. She visited this project on May 25, 2009. Here's what she had to say:
During our two day visit with Orphans of Rwanda International (ORI), we spent most of our time hanging out and talking with ORI scholars at their group homes. As two college kids ourselves, we felt right at home. As the students joking pointed out to us who was the “mom” or “dad” of the house, we began to understand what Yvet, the Director of Career Development said: “for these students, the group homes provide families, something many of them did not have as children.”
ORI serves orphans and vulnerable children by, as the students said, providing absolutely everything they need for a successful university career and preparing them to become competitive in the job market. ORI is the only organization, aside from the government, that offers university scholarships in Rwanda. As a result, ORI is only able to offer scholarships to a small percent of applicants (46/1500), making this a very competitive process. The orphans selected for this scholarship are at the top of their class, and some of the brightest and most motivated in the country.
Not only does ORI pay tuition for students to attend the top six universities in Rwanda. They also provide housing in the group homes, as well as a stipend. To ensure the sound mind and body of all students, ORI provides a nurse, full medical care (even glasses!), and mental health counselors, which the students told us they really appreciated. ORI recognizes how competitive the job market will be when the scholars graduate, so today they provide career development services such as internships (a new idea in Rwanda), mentorships, and workshops. In these workshops, students learn how to create CV’s, develop time management skills, and use the internet (some students got their first email through ORI). Recently, many Rwandan university students have been struggling because the government just changed the official language of instruction from French to English. ORI gives their scholars a leg up through three months of an intensive English program, and ongoing English workshops.
The interim director, Charles, told us that ORI is in an uphill battle. Tuition and housing cost are climbing sharply; indeed everything is going up, except for donations. Despite the financial struggles, ORI is continuing its important work as much as funding allows. The students we talked with continually reminded us that they are the future of Rwanda, and that they will be the leadership of the next generation. Without ORI, these students would have no way of receiving the education they need to become successful members of society. By empowering strong students, GlobalGiving is creating strong leaders.
Alexis said she would tell her friends this project is: Incredible: You need to see this!
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