Rwandan Scholar Builds Peace

$9,650 of $18,112 goal

Raised by 15 people in 19 months
Created July 5, 2017
Hi, thank you so much for visiting my crowdfunding scholarship application page.

My name is Jean Pierre Ndagijimana. I am Rwandan, born in Congo.

My History

For several generations, my extended family, as well as other people in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, experienced first-hand devastating loss of fundamental human rights. In 1959 my grandparents escaped Rwandan ethnic violence by fleeing to the neighboring Congo. My parents, myself and my siblings were all born as refugees.

When I was 6 years old, the increase of ethnic divisions and conflict led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi population in Rwanda, the country of my heritage. More than 1 million innocent people were murdered and many more fled to escape the violence and death.

My Country

In the 23 years since then, Rwanda has tried to recover from the horrors of this time. We have had some remarkable success, but myself and my people still suffer from the effects of this genocide.

We suffer from the loss of our families and friends, from the betrayals of our fellow countrymen, from destroyed infrastructure and access to basic needs, heavy historical memories of inequality, and perhaps most pervasively, we continue to suffer from depression, anger, chronic stress, loss of hope, and loss of our social ties.
Many are troubled to this day, with some turning to alcohol and other drug abuse and domestic violence as ways to cope.

What I've Done So Far

From an early age, I have wanted to find ways to help. I got basic education in a refugee camp(1) and continued my studies thanks to the government’s loan after I resettled in Rwanda. I became a high school teacher before earning a BS in Clinical Psychology from the National University of Rwanda.

Community-based trauma crisis interventions, on a Family Show: How to keep/restore healthy family relationship despite painful memories from our past

I have used my training in many ways since then:
• Interned with the Life Wounds Healing Association
• Psychology Consultant/Interpreter for Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTX for Hope) through Musicians Without Borders
• Co-initiated Laughter Yoga Clubs in Rwanda
• Presentations on many radio shows across the country
• Trainer to University of Rwanda students on trauma handling(2)
• Psychosocial needs assessment for refugees in Rwanda
• Facilitated a UN Team Building event
• Stress regulation trainer with national humanitarian aid workers in a Rwandan refugee camp
• 2016 guest speaker in Antwerp for humanitarian aid workers in Belgium and Netherlands on the topic of “Going Beyond Conflicts and Differences.”

Finding Common Ground: Going Beyond Conflicts and Differences

I am devoted to violence prevention through helping people find common ground. I know first-hand that The More Common Ground We Lose the More Violence We Gain.

I have worked hard in the efforts to restore peace, healing, tolerance, and reconciliation in Rwanda-Post Genocide.

It is in that regards that I coined the expression and activities “Ubu Ihangamutuzo” or “Finding the Gap of Calm and Common Ground for Peace Now”, and created vital strategies to reunite communities through the exploration of their shared core values, common goal and promoting equal opportunities.

I believe that the experiences of Rwanda’s recovery process are teachable. I have been always eager to find ways I can contribute to finding common ground not only in Rwanda, but also in other societies affected by divisionism and severe human rights violations. But, I have faced challenges based on the need for myself to learn about how those experiences and strategies can be taught in a different culture from mine.
Last July, I was invited to come to the United States to the University of San Francisco as a Visiting Research Scholar. I have been in San Francisco since then, learning about US culture and looking for innovative ways to work toward my goals.

My Goals

One of my biggest goals is to develop culturally and politically wise models to promote peace and healing in the societies devastated by wars, genocide, severe human rights violations, racism, and conflicts. To that end, the University of San Francisco has accepted my application for their Masters in International and Multicultural Education for the academic year of 2017-2018 and this is going to be part of my research scholar program.

This is to help me have a wider understanding around how to be of help to people of other cultures. Through this program, I am expecting to learn more about global perspectives on contemporary international issues, immigration and forced displacement, social justice and pedagogy, peace, conflicts, and Education in global contexts.

However, I am not financially capable of paying the required tuition fees and educational expenses alone. For room and board, I work 18hrs/week as a resident spiritual advisor, helping other USF students. I work another 10-15hrs/week creating programs and activities around peace and human rights. USF has provided a small educational grant for school costs.

I am looking for financial help for specific tuition expenses. I plan to take two 3-unit classes this fall — each course costs $3,450 — and 9 units in spring, for $10,350.

I keep my hope alive, knowing that you will take my hand and help me cross the bridge, so I could myself reach out to the communities that are in critical situations from growing intolerance and violence.
Today, there are situations of genocide, and the perpetration of violence against vulnerable people in many different areas of the world. I feel a responsibility to be of service and to help in the efforts of human rights education and overall peaceful resolution of conflicts.

I know what it means to experience genocide and war, to worry about where the next meal will come from, what it means to be a refugee, and what it means to live under constant uncertainties of what the worst might happen in the next few hours. I understand what it means to carry personal and collective painful memories. These are tragedies that I don’t want anyone else to ever experience on the planet. Most of man-made disasters are preventable and it is prevention that motivates me to work for peace and healing the undesirable legacy from our past and ensuring effective preventive measures.

The Model

The model of education I am developing involves awareness of one’s reactions to conflicts by noticing whether these reactions are influenced by memories or represent actual situations in the moment. This can help people take responsibility for their own responses to conflict. It is possible to teach communities tolerance and nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. I want to empower people’s critical thinking so that they may withstand the call to kill others should it come. I want to help and support policies which promote social justice in educational systems and in the general population.

Your support for my education will empower me to build on my previous work and studies, ultimately sending me back to the field where I can do the most good. Thank you for helping me achieve my goals.

Jean Pierre Ndagijimana
Visiting Research Scholar
University of San Francisco


(1) An Intimate Look at How Jesuit Refugee Service Impacted a Former Refugee's Life Through Education
8 May 2017
Jesuit Refugee Service Newsroom

(2) University of Rwanda Students Tipped on Trauma Handling
7 April 2016

(3) Stress Remedies for Body and the Brain
7 March 2016
The New Times

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I am back to say THANK YOU! So far, I have completed 3 courses with 2 As+ and 1 A: They are Tools for Human Rights (A), the Theoretical foundation of International and Multicultural Education (A+) and Gender and Globalization (A+).

Prior to taking my first semester courses, I was nervous especially given that English is my 4th language (the newest). I am very thankful for the support I have had which ensured that the language does not stop me to thrive in my new educational system.

I am currently taking both the International Human Rights Law and Advocacy as well as Critical Pedagogy courses. They are both exciting.

My academic journey in the International and Multicultural Education (IME) master’s program has been challenging, fun, exciting, empowering, and promising.

Listening attentively to people’s needs, awareness of my own privileges and vulnerabilities, respecting and including people’s cultural wealth to my intervention model(s) to effectively serve the people with no exciting “Life of options” has always been my dream career. The IME program has been exceeding my expectations. I am much more inspired and empowered to work for social justice and peacebuilding especially with the people whose successful life means “FOOD and PEACE” (the ability to feel safe enough to spend a night at one’s spot).

To complete the program would require me to take 10 courses in total + a thesis or a field project. After this Spring 2018 semester, I will be done with 5/I0 classes. I am aware that the journey is still long especially as I really need financial support for the remaining 5 courses and the thesis. But I am hopeful. I would appreciate any financial donation and any other support that would contribute towards the goal.

I am extremely thankful to everyone who has been with me with all kinds of supports that required for me to enroll in the past and current courses and do well.

I can’t wait to finish this program and work for Social Justice and Peace for the historically marginalized societies. Thank you very much!

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This is very exciting! So far, I have completed my summer class! It was an eye - opener experience. I have already started my first semester (Fall) with two classes. Words can’t articulate perfectly my heartfelt gratitude for the donors’ generosity. THANK YOU! I will keep you updated.
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$9,650 of $18,112 goal

Raised by 15 people in 19 months
Created July 5, 2017
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