Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 28

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Global Grassroots 2011

Evariste describes his father as a man of good principles, who valued knowledge and education. Despite his poverty, he managed to send all of his children to primary school. If a child skipped class or did poorly, Evariste explains, he or she didn’t have a chance of earning his father’s respect. At that time, most other parents had the “ideology that… girls should not go to school.” They should “stay home cooking; doing works at home.” The Community Vocational Training School (CVTS) enables women from Evariste’s generation to attend school for the first time in their lives.

Evariste says that today, attitudes are changing. More parents understand the value of an education for all their children. Evariste’s fourteen year old daughter, Lillian, is usually ranked first or second in her class of forty-five. Recently, she was selected to participate in a conversation in English with the first lady and the prime minister of Rwanda. She has applied to Fawe Girls’, one of the best secondary schools in Kigali and hopes to start next year. She fantasizes about Fawe constantly.

“When I was a child, one day I remember, my father asked me, ‘What will you be when you will be old and [have] finished your studies?’ Then, because I saw all the time the person in charge of agriculture coming at home, telling my father to cut these bananas… to make clean the coffee… I said, ‘I will be like that. I will have my motorcycle to go work with the people, and tell the people to make clean coffee and bananas, in the same way.’ I said, ‘I will be agronome.’”

Today, Evariste Ngarukiye lives with his wife and children in the Gisozi sector of Kigali, 220 kilometers from the Cyangugu coffee fields once cultivated by his father. He manages the Community Vocational Training School (CVTS), a Global Grassroots program he and two other change agents founded in 2007. The school provides a technical course in tailoring – supplemented by workshops on HIV and family planning – to orphans, widows, single mothers and commercial sex workers trying to leave prostitution. In his off hours, Evariste is slowly working toward his university degree in sociology. Although he still describes his childhood world of lakeside tea plantations and banana orchards as the “best place” in Rwanda, his choices have taken him far from the life he imagined as a boy.

Change Agent Profile:

Evariste Ngarukiye

Community Vocational Training School*

By Christina Hueschen

photo by Gretchen Wallace