October 3, 2014
In honor of World Teachers' Day (5 Oct 2014), we'd like to introduce to you two of our phenomenal formal educators in the Village. Albertine Abayo and Jakila Wilberforce. Murakoze cyane to them and all of the other educators who are changing the world through innovative classroom experiences.
My name is Albertine Abayo, and I am a geography teacher for Senior 5 (11th grade) and Senior 6 (12th grade) students at Liquidnet Family High School (LFHS.) I began working at the Village on May 5th, 2011; I still remember the exact day. I have watched one grade arrive and graduate and that gave me more as an educator than I could have ever anticipated. Every day I see students push themselves to perform better and better, I see them revising their notes, where they used to relax or sleep. I see them become motivated and their hard work is reflected in their marks - this improvement further motivates them to continue putting forth effort.
When I heard about ASYV through a friend, I thought I would come and see the Village for myself. After speaking with a few kids, that was it, what can I say? I am committed to these students who come from nothing. I am so attached to their improvement that it is as if we study together, we motivate each other, and when they do well on their national exams, it is a celebration for all of us.
A specific girl that stands out in my mind is a graduate from 2013. When we met, she was discouraged and solemn. All her life she was told she would not succeed. It is difficult to overcome this mindset. Together, we studied and prepared for her exams. She began to have more self-confidence and her marks slowly improved. She passed her national exams and now she has a certificate of secondary education, which many do not have in Rwanda. She is currently working as a cashier and is saving up money so she can put herself through private University. Her struggles are not over, but she knows how to face adversity and she is no longer afraid.
I want to instill in my students that there is hope for them. There is no need to be discouraged because of their past, they must only look forward and take advantage of the opportunities that are being provided for them. I want them to learn independence and the importance of hard work. I want them to have the knowledge to make good decisions so that they never again return to the poverty from which they came. As a teacher, the ultimate reward is to see your students doing well and enjoying their studies. It would be wonderful to see them all attending University, but my primary goal is to ensure that they pass the national exams so they have options for a better life.
My name is Jakila Wilberforce. I started teaching at Liquidnet Family High School (LFHS) in 2010. I currently teach mathematics for first year, or ‘enrichment year,’ students. The biggest change I have seen at the school is the response the kids have to learning. They really enjoy pushing themselves to learn English, and they jump into their studies full-force. That is why you see all different sorts of themed events taking place up at the school throughout the term such as “Language Day,” “Social Science Day,” and so on.
I was born and raised in Uganda, so it is actually quite a miracle that I ended up at ASYV. When I came to Rwanda, I heard about this Village that cared for orphans and there was also a school component. When I came to see for myself, I knew I would work here for many years. I felt the energy of the space; the environment makes you feel like you are at home, even when you are at school. The DNA (discussion, negotiation, and agreement) element of communication between teachers and students fosters mutual respect. This is something that is very new to Rwanda (and East Africa more broadly). I share lunch with my students and we discuss things that extend beyond their homework assignments. These relationships inspire me to be the best teacher I can be for them.
I remember this one boy in particular who graduated this past year. He was doing poorly on his exams and was not focused in class. When I asked him what it was that distracted him, he told me that his parents had died, he was living with his aunt who had recently remarried. The newlyweds no longer wished to care for a child who was not their own and were pushing him to move out of the house at the age of 16. He told me he was not loved and had no one at home to support him. He worried about becoming homeless when he left the Village. These are the thoughts that prevented him from focusing on his studies. I could see that this boy needed care, advice, and plainly, love. For two years I counseled this boy, listening to his worries and provided him extra tutoring. By the time he graduated, he was a strong student and had performed well on his national exams. He had hope for a better future. This boy inspired me so much. When I see him now and the life he is able to achieve from having a secondary education, I am filled with immense happiness.
The message I want to tell my students is that their hard work will pay off! Life is not perfect, but the more they work and the more education they pursue, the easier their lives will be. One day I hope to see my students coming back to the Village as principles, managers, or even Village directors. I want to see them being the ones in charge because I know how hard they worked to overcome their vulnerable backgrounds. I want to be able to say that these students went through my hands and when I let them go, they blossomed into the change-makers of Rwanda and the world at large.