My name is Djamila Mathu Khamisi. I am 31 years old and I live in Kigali, Rwanda. I am married to Theogene Ntakirutimana. I am happy to share with you my story.
I was born in DRC, Western part in a town called Goma. I am a first born of a family of 6. In September 2001, I started my high school at Lycee Amani, a girl’s school founded and managed by the Bernadine congregation. I was happy and confident that it was the starting point of my future. My father was sick at that time and in January 2002 he passed away. One week after his death, there was the eruption of the Nyiragongo Volcano. This is a volcano situated 12km in the North of Goma. We lost everything. We moved to a neighboring country, Rwanda, in a town called Gisenyi.
Life has changed since then. My mother had to feed us and pay the tuition fees of four kids. I used to cross the border every day to go to school. I remember one day when I was in senior 2, the then headmistress entered the class and called me and my colleague to go home because we didn’t pay tuition fees. We begged her to let us do at least the test (quiz) and she refused. Someone accompanied us to the gate so that we will not return in our class. When we arrived at the gate my colleague’s father was coming and she returned immediately in class. I went home sad saying that it’s because I didn’t have a father. The tuition fee was $7 per month. The next day my mother sent a note to the headmistress that she will pay very soon to let me study.
The first day of senior 3 in our class, the headmistress distributed “cahier de communication”, a notebook on which school communicates with parents. It also includes a page for monthly payment. When I opened that payment page, I found that they paid the whole academic year. I thought it was a mistake. After class I asked the headmistress and she told me: “EduCorps has paid everything” I couldn’t believe that! She added even for lunch at school everything is covered. It was like a miracle! Just to give you an idea, during lunch I used to hide myself somewhere and wait for afternoon class because I didn’t have anything to eat or a student could ask why I did not go to the refectory. For the remaining years at Lycee Amani I got a scholarship where I chose 2 subjects Biology and Chemistry. My mother was secure knowing that I am stable at school. I am thankful for that.
After graduating from high school, I got another scholarship to continue with my bachelor’s degree. It was another miracle when I received that message from EduCorps. I applied and got admitted to Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (now University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology).
I graduated in March 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. Since I was young, my dream was to become a woman in tech and empower other girls to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I also work hard, but smart, to help my mother. I am happy that I was able to pay for the schools of my brothers and sisters. My mother passed away in November 2015.
After graduation, I started working in an NGO that empowers young people, especially women in ICT. In 2017, I was admitted to Carnegie Mellon University (Africa Campus) in Kigali, Rwanda to pursue my Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with concentration in Data Science and Internet of Thing. I spent one semester on our Pittsburgh campus. The scholarship was partially funded by the government of Rwanda and the other part CMU.
Thanks to EduCorps, I was able to visit the Potomac School, in McLean, Virginia in 2017 to share with students about my educational experiences.
I am always grateful to God. Thank you EduCorps, Sr Philomene (Lycee Amani) and all sponsors who helped me attain one of my greatest dreams.