Safari Trip!!

After a great night’s sleep, we had a very early morning as today was the safari day!! We were informed that the best time to start the safari was early in the morning as this is when we would have the highest chance of seeing any animals.

Waking up to the lovely surroundings of the Womens Opportunity Centre definitely had the team in high spirits, even when we headed for breakfast at 5am. We had a nice change this morning from the usual hard-boiled eggs and chapatis, as we got some fresh fruit and a mini fry up!

We soon got on the bus and headed to the Akagera National Park, arriving at 8am. We were assigned with a tour guide who came into the bus with us and took us around the park, giving us fun facts and helping us keep an eye out for animals along the way.

We had an amazing day as we saw so many different animals like zebras, giraffes, hippos, baboons and even some elephants!

Seeing the animals in their natural habitat was a great experience for us and we will definitely all look back on this day with fond memories. Sadly, we didn’t spot any lions or rhinos– but this didn’t come to a surprise to us as we knew that there is very few of these in the park. In the two years that our tour guide had been working there he has only seen the lions four times!

Finishing the safari in the late afternoon, we were all very tired so had a quiet night back at the Womens Opportunity Centre having some dinner and drinks. A few of us even managed to get a hot shower before the water went cold!!

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

Day 21

After a crazy closing party the night before, most of the girls were looking forward to a long lie and spending the last few hours with the Rwandan team. As an amazing end to a very successful project, Hannah, Lydie and Ellen were invited to share the projects story with a UNESCO training programme, focussing on delivering quality gender-responsive STEM education. Ellen spoke about the importance of STEM and how she founded the project 4 years ago, while Hannah highlighted the successes of this years project, with the team reaching over 3500 children across Rwanda. Lydie discusses her plans to continue the projects outreach initiatives through a new student society called FutureYou, in order to encourage more children into STEM long after the project ends. At the end of our presentation, almost all of the countries represented at UNESCO said they too wanted to emulate a project just like ours!

We spoke alongside Josephine Malonza, an architecture lecturer at the University of Rwanda who is instrumental in coordinating the project (really, she is amazing!) Josephine was just the 18th woman in the whole of Africa with a PhD in architecture, therefore, used this platform to share her wisdom, particularly the importance of school teachers guiding students into the appropriate university career.

After saying a very teary goodbye to our Rwandan girls, the Glasgow team packed our bags for a 2 night stay at the Women’s Opportunity Center eco lodge. Designed in collaboration with Women for Women International—a humanitarian organization that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives—the center uses architecture to create economic opportunity, rebuild social infrastructure, and restore African heritage. The center partnered with local enterprises to create water purification, biogas, and other sustainable systems that can be maintained by the inhabitants themselves. We were extremely looking forward to having a chance to relax on our last few days in Rwanda (with an ACTUAL hot shower).

We spent dinner on the shores of Lake Muhazi, while taking a boat ride over the lake and watched the sunset. Golden hour really did bits for our pictures!

We all debated whether to swim in the lake but eventually, Gratien our driver was the only one brave enough. After a few Smirnoff ices, we were all excited to get back to our luxurious beds for the night to prepare for a very early start to Akagera in the morning!

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂

Closing Ceremony (Day 20)

As they say, all good things come to an end.

After the breakfast, the team rushed to town to buy last minute secret santa, once more, and wrapping paper. We’ve started to master the true art of bargaining in the market. The team leaders used the free time to polish their presentation for the closing ceremony.

In the early afternoon, we attended the closing ceremony. The CST principal gave us a warm welcome and was pleased to see us again. Hannah gave us a presentation on the outcome of this year’s project. The team has delivered STEM workshops to more than 3560 pupils this year!! This number far surpassed our original target of 2,019. So over the 4 last years, more than 6000 kids gained information about studying STEM courses at university. We also got the chance to visit companies and listen to the stories of sucessful engineers.

 

None of this would have been possible without our sponsors, so we would like to say a massive thank you to them all. Robertson, Star Refrigeration, Western Ferries, IESIS and Hammermen of Glasgow.

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Lydie then explained her development plan for FutureYou, the FemEng equivalent society at the University of Rwanda. The society was founded a couple of years ago but has not been as successful as intended. The new aims for Future You are to provide information on STEM related courses to pupils and inspire the next generation, organise monthly public talks and workshops for students.

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And finally Ellen Simmons went back on the history of  FemEng in Rwanda, its evolution from the creation to now and the future of Femeng in Rwanda. She was extremely pleased to see how well the project went this year. We are hoping to be able to emulate this project in other African countries.

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On behalf of RAWISE, Dr Noella Karemera expressed their satisfaction on our collaboration with them. The Vice Chancellor Philip Cotton gave us a very inspirational speech encouraging everyone to follow their dreams. Each team member then received a certificate of participation presented by the Principle and Vice Chancellor.

 

Following the closing ceremony everybody went back to the hostel to pack and get dressed up for the evening celebrations. The Glasgow team got the chance to wear their new outfit made in Rwanda. We all enjoyed a lovely treat meal with multiple dishes including pizza, brochettes, samosas and chips. We exchanged , and everyone was really happy about what they received as it is a symbol of all the friendships created during the project. Each Rwandan girls received a pins with the Scottish flag and postcard from Glasgow. The evening was amazing, we took a large amount of pictures, and some impressive dance moves were performed. It was a great way to conclude the project, as the next morning it will be time to say goodbye to the Rwanda team.

The FemEng in Rwanda Team 2019 🙂