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.