Growing up in Rwanda, I was fortunate to be given different educational opportunities that are not always available to everyone especially not every girl.

My name is Joanna Karenzi; I am a senior at Northeastern University in Boston, MA majoring in International Affairs and Economics with minors in French and African Studies. I am passionate about the development of my country and of the African continent as a whole. I would like to pursue a career in international development and to do my part in making the world a better place for all of us. This spring semester I have the opportunity to be the Development Associate intern at Komera and contribute to their efforts to educate girls, build community and empower girls through sports. I have been keeping up with Komera’s work in Rwanda for a few years, and I heard about this internship through BNID (Boston Network for International Development).


I strongly believe that where you get your start in life should not determine where you end up.

Rwanda is the perfect example of this; in the past 23 years the country has been able to reach heights that were once unimaginable and regain its agaciro (dignity). In Rwanda today, girls are able to look up to the women that lead in nearly every sector and know that this is not only an option to them but also one they are encouraged to pursue. Komera gives girls the skills and self-confidence to dream big and achieve their dreams.

Growing up, the importance of education was always emphasized; my parents often told my siblings and I that education is the best legacy they could ever give us. As Rwanda continues to work towards becoming a knowledge-based economy, education is key.

As kwigira (self-reliance) and kwihangira imirimo (self-employment) continue to be encouraged, Komera’s holistic approach to education and community empowerment helps the scholars, their parents and the community as a whole to support itself and contribute to country’s overall development.

The Made in Rwanda campaign – which is a push towards buying local – is the perfect backdrop for the parent cooperatives and scholars’ businesses to flourish.

Komera opens up opportunities to girls whose brilliance, talent and ubudasa (uniqueness) would otherwise have been overlooked. These girls are able to go further in their education, acquire more skills and contribute to their families and their communities. It is a privilege to play even a small part in helping other Rwandan girls achieve their full potential.