The World Has a Lot to Learn from Rwandan Women, says Gemmell
Kathryn Gemmell is a former student of International Studies at Edinburg University in Scotland. When she first came to Rwanda eight weeks ago to do research for her master’s degree dissertation, the first thing that impressed her was the way rural women in Nyakinama village, Musanze district, supported each other to make sense of their lives.
“I did International Studies at Edinburg University and when the time came to write my dissertation, I chose Rwanda since I had heard so much about the country and how the government takes care of women.
Gemmell says when she interviewed 72 different Rwandan women for her research, she realised is that most of them were proud of themselves despite the daily challenges they faced.
“The women work very hard to surmount their problems. Unlike my country Scotland where people are ashamed of being poor or appearing to be poor, these people are proud of themselves and are they are always looking for resourceful ways to solve their problems. It’s a big lesson to the world,” she says.
As a volunteer at Red Rocks Cultural Centre, Gemmell says working with local co-operatives has offered her an opportunity to not only give back to the community that has hosted her, but also to make new friends and gain confidence in working with something that is meaningful to others.
She says that from volunteering, she has been able to gain enough experience in her field of study, explore other areas of interest, and develop significant skills in leadership, problem-solving, communication and cultural awareness, among other things.
Gemmell notes that for the eight weeks she has been volunteering at Red Rocks Cultural Centre, what she has come to admire is how local women, through their co-operatives, are always there to support each other and how they have confidence in themselves to overcome the daily challenges they face.
Gemmell says she first came to Rwanda at the end of April this year and returned eight weeks ago because she naturally fell in love with the country.
She adds that she also likes Rwanda because it’s clean and green, adding that the efforts the government is making to conserve the environment is something that should be admired and replicated worldwide.
During her stay in the country, Gemmell has not been able to visit many attractions because of her busy schedule save for Mgahinga National Park in Uganda where she went to trek the critically endangered mountain gorillas. She has also visited Gisenyi, particularly Lake Kivu, and also the Akagera National Park to see the wildlife, particularly the big Five.
And before she goes back to Scotland, “I want to visit Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to see how the (dark) past of Rwanda is documented before I go back to Scotland. I have heard and read so much about the genocide against the Tutsi and it can be a disservice to myself if I go back without seeing this part of the country’s history preserved in Gisozi,” she says.
Gemmell came to know about Rwanda through Greg Bakunzi, the founder of Red Rocks Cultural Centre, who has previously worked with Edinburg University to promote their tourism, conservation and community development programmes.
“I don’t regret my decision to come to the country seeing that it has offered me enough experience to make positive changes in other peoples’ lives,” says Gemmell.