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My Message to Female Students of the Padri Vjeko VTC: Education is the Key!
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 Written by Francoise Mukamana

Francoise MukamanaAs girls, we have to empower ourselves and be self-confident and proud!

When I came to enroll in Padri Vjeko Vocational Training Centre, many of my future schoolmates looked at me with a smile on their faces. Because, unlike most of the girls, who decided to enroll in the tailoring course, I was standing in the line for enrollment in the building course.

The boys looked at me in astonishment and laughed saying: “This girl is crazy. She wants to learn the builder’s trade?! That’s not for girls. She’s just wasting her time...”

They babbled, and talked, and sneered, but that didn’t discourage me. On the contrary! It encouraged me to do my best and prove to them that I can be as good a builder as they are.

They accepted me with time, because they saw that I meant business. I was very serious when it came to studying, especially the practical lessons.

After two years of education, on the final exam I scored 73.8 percent, which was great!

We finished school in December, and in January I immediately started looking for a job. I was a bit scared. OK, I had proven to my classmates that I could work as a builder, but... I suddenly felt disheartened wondering if any of the construction companies would be willing to give employment to a female builder...

However, all of the companies I applied to showed interest in me! Already in January I took part in the construction of the Umurenge Sacco (the Savings and Credit Cooperative building), and right after that I also got a job on the construction of a secondary school called Ecose Musambira.

My starting salary was 2,500 Rwandan Francs (around 4 dollars) per day. This was a lot of money for me! I never dreamed that I one day would earn that much!!!!!

When I finished working on the first two construction projects, a third one came along. This time I worked on the construction of a nine-year school old called EsGihembe.

I knew that I could do even better and more. I desired to find an employer who would give me a permanent job. So I started looking. My brother took me to the capital of Kigali, where we headed straight to the big construction company called Cotraco.

And, guess what! I got a permanent job right away! Now I’m even better paid. My starting salary is 3,500 Rwandan Francs (around five dollars) per day, and my employer made a commitment to increase my salary after a certain amount of time, if I prove to be a hard-working,  skillful, capable worker.

Straight away, I went to share this wonderful news about my permanent employment with my teachers in the Padri Vjeko Center and the headmaster, fra Ivica Perić. After all, they are the ones who are to be thanked the most for my success! If it wasn’t for them, who knows how and where I would be living today...

I’m writing all this not to brag, but to give self-confidence to young girls and women. We, also, just like the guys, are able to work and earn a living for ourselves, our families, for a better tomorrow.

It is important to set a goal for oneself, and school is the one thing that will help us most in the realization of that goal. Education is the Key!

So, just boldly go ahead! Don’t worry, girls! You will succeed!

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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