Day 4

We started off the day with the project opening ceremony where the Principal of the College of Science and Technology (CST) expressed his appreciation and reiterated the need for the project at the University of Rwanda. The Deputy Vice Chancellor informed us of the current statistics surrounding young women studying STEM subjects. In High School 50% of the pupils taking maths and sciences are female, however when they reach university this number drastically decreases to 22%. We also received praise and encouragement from two ambassadors from RAWISE, the Rwandan Association for Women in Science and Engineering. Josephine Malonza, the project coordinator between FemEng and the University of Rwanda, has given us the target of reaching 2,019 pupils in 2019.

Later on in the afternoon we decided to go to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. This year marks the 25th anniversary since the devastating tragedy happened in Rwanda. Unlike previous years, the entire group were willing to attend the visit despite the strong and raw emotions associated with the genocide. In April 1994, approximately one million civilians were massacred in a period of 100 days. Colonialisation created a divide of the population in Rwanda into two main ethnic groups, the Hutu and Tutsi. The Hutus aimed to wipe out each and every member of the Tutsi minority group under strong political influence through propaganda. Moderate Hutu’s were also killed by their friends, families and neighbours.

We were all greatly saddened hearing the stories of survivors and the shear brutality of the systematic massacre. Josephine gave us a tour of the memorial and provided great support to all team members. We encourage everyone to look more into the genocide, as such a tragedy should never happen again.

Following the visit, we took the evening to reflect upon the day and rest.

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

 

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Day 3

As today was Sunday, after breakfast we attended the local church St Etienne with a few of the Rwandan girls. Some of the other girls travelled back home to pray with their family. As always in Rwanda we were given a very warm welcome, all thoroughly enjoying singing along with the congregation. Some of us even shed a tear at the powerful service!

We then had a nice walk into the town where we bought materials that we would use to make posters in the afternoon. Once back at the accommodation, we had some down time with the Rwandan girls where we watched a film.

One of the schools we reached out to, Lycee Notre Dame de Citeaux, are still doing their exams but were keen to learn more about engineering. We created a poster (that we were very proud of if we do say so ourselves…) that included a brief explanation about all of the engineering disciplines offered at the University of Rwanda. Hannah and Lydie, the team leaders, are excited to deliver the poster as well as a presentation to the school pupils tomorrow morning before breakfast.

For dinner, we wandered to a different area of Kigali to a local restaurant where we had a lovely meal. The portions were very generous… we were stuffed! Some of the locals were keen to socialise and chat to us, even offering to help us explore Kigali later on in the trip!

After heading back to the accommodation, we filled up our buckets with water in preparation for tomorrows showers. Since our days are so busy, we are always in bed by 10pm (our 20’s are starting to get to us).

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

Day 2

As some of the Rwandan girls were still busy with exams, breakfast was our first opportunity to meet them and prepare for another busy school visit.

Our visit to La Colombiere Primary School was very successful. We split into groups to deliver workshops to 5 primary 5 classes in different engineering disciplines. The pupils were extremely enthusiast about us being there and had advanced and interesting questions for us. One little girl made sure to come up afterwards to tell us she was dying to become a mechanical engineer when she grows up, as did many of the pupils by the end of the visit.

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Now that the whole team had arrived, we spent the free evening to participate in some team bonding and culture exchange. The Glasgow girls taught the Rwandan team ceilidh dancing, while the Rwandan team taught us traditional African dance… it may take some practice.

The Rwandan girls even had a little surprise gift for us!! We were all given handmade African earrings and a Rwandan souvenir made from bark from a banana tree!!!

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

 

Arrival & Day 1

Upon arrival in Kigali we received a warm welcome at the airport before being taken to our accommodation. We were then helped to settle in and given lots of fresh fruit for supper. After a short tour of the accommodation we went to bed early to ensure we were well rested for the next day.

We woke up at 6:30am to shower and get ready for breakfast. After a 10-minute walk through the campus we arrived at the church where we will have breakfast and lunch each day. Some of us enjoyed the African tea…some of us didn’t.

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We headed back to the campus for an introductory meeting with Josephine where we discussed the plans for the next few days. A school visit had been planned for 2 o’clock so we split ourselves into 3 groups to plan for the workshops we would present. Initially, we started with a Civil, Mechanical and Biomedical workshop to show to the school pupils.

After lunch, Gratien, the bus driver for our time here picked us up from the university to take us to the first school.

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The visit was very successful with the pupils taking a keen interest in the workshops. We had time to spare before we left so we sat down and chatted to them all. We found out that many of them would now like to go into further education studying engineering.

Once we arrived back to the accommodation, we had our first bit of free time to relax after the long day and spend some time bonding with the Rwandan girls.

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

 

FemEng in Rwanda 2019!

Welcome to our blog for FemEng in Rwanda 2019! A completely student led project which aims to expose as many young females as possible to the prospects of a career in Engineering and Science in their futures. The project is a collaboration between female engineers at the University of Glasgow and University of Rwanda. We will work together  in order to create and provide interactive engineering and science based workshops for high school pupils across Kigali. This blog is where we will be documenting our time over in Rwanda.

All of the team are extremely excited for our departure early tomorrow morning and are finishing off packing for the 3 weeks we will be away.

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This project would not have been made possible without the generosity of individuals making donations through the GoFundMe page and also sponsorship from Engineering companies.

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We would like to say a massive thank you from the whole team and hope you look forward to following our journey over the next few weeks!

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019

 

Project Closing Ceremony – 24/07/18

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As our time in Rwanda comes to a close, we think it is important to reflect on the milestones we have reached and the goals that we have achieved over the past four weeks. 

On leaving Scotland, the team was aiming to surpass the 1000 children visited in 2017 and leave a lasting framework for the FutureYou society at the University of Rwanda. 

Four weeks later, we are attending the closing ceremony of the project, led by Professor Phil Cotton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda and attended by many members from across the University faculty. We are reminded of the great times we have had throughout the project and are also incredibly proud to reveal that over our time, we managed to visit a total of over 1,300 school children spread amongst 8 schools (including the school we were asked to return to)- a huge achievement! Both the Glasgow and Rwandan teams also worked collaboratively to ensure that FutureYou was left with a full committee including a President, Secretary and a Treasurer, successfully fulfilling both goals that the team set out to achieve. 

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The ceremony was concluded with a very constructive discussion about the future of the project in Rwanda and eventual goals for growing the project to wider East Africa. The faculty members present were also very interested in how they could personally assist the outreach work of FutureYou and some very promising connections were made in regards to progression over the following year.

Following this, Professor Cotton asked the team to summarise in a few words what they felt they had gained from the project- some of these responses have been included below.

‘I feel one step ahead of my peers for when I start university…I know the campus much better too!’ – Lydie- High School Graduate

‘The industry visits widened my horizons regarding career prospects’- Janet- High School Graduate

‘It was exciting explaining to the girls that you are the one to be innovative. You can design the future energy and power of Rwanda’ – Safia – Electrical Engineering Student

‘It was really inspiring to see how the kids engaged and how many questions they asked during the workshops’ – Hope – Aeronautical Engineering Student

 

Akagera National Park – 22/07/18

The team got off to an early start on our last Sunday together as we set off for our safari adventure at Akagera National Park. For most of the group, it was their first time on an African safari, and it was a pleasure to experience this as a whole team.

Our bus driver, Gratien, led the way through Akagera as we learned about the park from our on-board guide. Despite being warned beforehand that lion and elephant sightings were rare, we were unbelievably fortunate to come within 10 metres of an elephant followed by getting as close as we wanted to come to 3 lions. We watched in awe as the elephant followed our bus and disappeared into the bushes – a once in a lifetime experience. The guide also informed us that lion sightings are so rare and he was just as excited as us to come so close to the beautiful animals.

After a quick lunch stop at “Hippo Lake”, we watched zebras, giraffes and antelopes in their natural habitat. Other animals we seen included crocodiles, warthogs, topi, storks and buffalo. The 6 hour excitement-filled safari was exhausting for the team, majority of whom fell asleep on the return journey. 

The safari was an unforgettable day for all. 

Visits to STRAWTEC and Skat – 20/07/18

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The team headed off on their second industrial visit of the project to the company STRAWTEC building solutions. STRAWTEC provide affordable, eco friendly, high performance wall systems using a core made from compressed agricultural materials.

The team was given the opportunity to observe the production line from straw to panel, followed by a demonstration of the panel’s fire resistant properties. Finally, we saw a model room completely built by the straw panels.

Following the factory tour, the leaders spoke to the teams about internship opportunities at the company. The leader of the 2017 Rwanda Team, Olga, is interning with STRAWTEC this summer and had a key role in setting up a connection between them and FemEng in Rwanda. The team really enjoyed the visit and hope that STRAWTEC will be keen to welcome FemEng back for another tour next year!

 

 

After a quick stop for lunch the teams went to visit Skat. Skat Consulting Ltd. is an independent Swiss consulting company and resource centre working in the fields of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Their work in Rwanda includes the extraction and production of clay bricks which are then used to build affordable homes.

The first stop was in the marshlands of Rugende, where we saw clay being extracted and then carried to the factory where processed and fired in the kiln. We learnt how the bricks are processed in a environmentally friendly manner.

 

 

The second stop was “The 8 Million House” in Gikondo. This “Swiss Cube” is a demonstration of a house which has optimised architecture, simple in shape, elegant in appearance and made of high quality materials. Additionally, it costs only 8 million rwf (approx. £7000) to build!

The final stop for the team was at the Skat housing project in Mpazi. The project is another demonstration of the style of affordable houses that can be build in the area. Skat aim to convert the concrete built, older houses in rural Kigali into safer, affordable, brick built housing.

The FemEng in Rwanda team had a wonderful time visiting both STRAWTEC and Skat and were very grateful to be given the opportunity to see such innovative solutions for affordable housing in Rwanda.

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“Future You” preparations and Mount Kigali hike – 18/07/18

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In the morning the team worked together to further set up the Rwandan Team’s “Future You” society. The society aims to continue to build upon the work carried out by the FemEng in Rwanda Project after the Glasgow team leave Rwanda at the end of the month. The session was successful with committee positions being appointed such as President, Secretary and Treasurer and a discussion about what the committee aim to achieve in the next year.

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In the afternoon the team embarked on a hike up Mount Kigali. The picturesque views throughout provided a beautiful panorama over the whole of Kigali. The team would agree it was definitely worth the cardio. We were even lucky enough to watch the sunset before heading back down. 

A productive morning ended with a refreshing walk. It was a beautiful end to a great day. 

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Cover letter writing and job application guidance workshop – 17/07/18

Tuesday was a productive day for the team as Paula gave everyone a talk on how to write a cover letter. Both the Glasgow and Rwanda girls benefited from hearing Paula’s various cover letters for different jobs as well as her experience writing them. It was an important lesson for everyone especially as some of the Rwandan and Glasgow team are hoping to apply for jobs and internships in the coming months. 

It was an exciting lunch as Hope – one of the Glasgow team – turned 21. To celebrate everyone had organised a small surprise party with balloons, banners and a cake! 

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Full of cake, attention turned to further setting up the Future You society in Rwanda. Kirsty and Morgan reminded everyone of the various positions and the Rwandan team begun electing members and establishing a basic structure. This is all in preparation for the first Future You meeting that will take place on Wednesday. 

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