Akilah Rwanda Class of 2015-Entrepreneurship
I am Julienne Uwishoreye and I am the sixth born in my family of ten children — six boys and four girls. Growing up was not easy since my parents could not afford everything we needed for such a large family, but they tried to teach us how to appreciate the little things we had. They also encouraged us to pray a lot since God was often our only hope.
In secondary school, I studied History, Economics and Geography. I liked learning History the most, especially about all the great people who have made things happen in the world. My dream was to become a leader one day, too.
My proudest moment was during the Social Change Projects that we do, where I went to visit a Rwandan orphanage. I was able to teach some of the new skills I learned at Akilah and share my experience confidently.
I heard about Akilah from a friend and joined Akilah in 2012. This is definitely a family. Since coming to Akilah, I have felt welcomed like a child in a new and loving family. The instructors help and advise me as their daughter. I have an “older sister”, a student in the class above mine who has now graduated, who has helped me a lot. She advises me on how I can behave at Akilah, and to focus on my studies. At Akilah, we work in teams and help each other — something I do appreciate very much. The instructors do all they can to ensure that we understand everything. They motivate me with positive feedback and encourage me to ask questions when I do not understand.
My favorite memory at Akilah is the “older sisters” event I mentioned earlier. During the event, the new students are assigned older students to guide them as an older sister would. I was very happy to get an older sister to act as my mentor. She has showed me so much love. Everything that happened that day made me happy. We shared lunch with our older sisters and Akilah staff. We danced and we sung. It was a happy day! My older sister took good care of me and at her graduation I didn’t want her to leave. I learned a lot from her and I consider her a gift from God.
My business will help me to develop myself and offer employment to people who do not have jobs.
My proudest moment was during the Social Change Projects that we do, where I went to visit a Rwandan orphanage. I was able to teach some of the new skills I learned at Akilah and share my experience confidently. I realized that I was good in public speaking and was able to answer all questions that people asked me. The event showed me that I was able to put what I have learned from Akilah into action. I have gained confidence, learned teaching skills, know how to explain without going off-topic, all while staying humble and connecting with the audience I’m speaking to.
Akilah has taught me to always be prepared and to be on time. And I really appreciate that Akilah has taught me to expand my mindset. Before I came to Akilah my mind was closed, in that I didn’t believe that I could learn new ways of thinking and change my behavior. Now I know that no one can go back and change a bad beginning, but anyone can start now and create a successful ending. I now believe that I can change my future by trusting myself and seeking help from others who care about my success.
The instructors do all they can to ensure that we understand everything. They motivate me with positive feedback and encourage me to ask questions when I do not understand.
The biggest challenge I have overcome is adapting to learning in an English-speaking environment. Since I came to Akilah, learning English has been a constant struggle for me because I did my previous education in French. It was my first time to study in English and we are supposed to speak only English on campus. The beginning was so hard. But I set goals of reading many books, listening to the news in English, and using the internet and dictionary to find meanings of many new words. I also asked for help from my fellow students and my instructors when I did not understand.
In ten years, I will be a woman with my own business that produces stationery and paper products, known all over the country. My business will help me to develop myself and offer employment to people who do not have jobs. I plan to train young ladies on how they can create their own ventures to be able to satisfy their own needs and the needs of the market. I will succeed because everything is possible.
My advice to future Akilah students is to never give up in whatever they do, because the beginning is hard but with patience and dedication, success is possible. They should set goals, work on them, and not give up even if they meet many challenges. Every successful person has a painful story, but that is how we learn to be strong. They should not waste time thinking about the past and instead focus on a successful future. Great things rarely come when we most need them, but they show up when we least expect them. And finally, they should seek help because effort without seeking help is like trying to push your own car from the outside while you are still inside. Seeking help is a crucial part of success.
If you wish to support an Akilah student like Julienne, please visit our website.