Photography by Esther Havens
Since 2001, educational child sponsorship has been the heart of Africa New Life. Today, we have more than 10,000 students sponsored throughout Rwanda. Sponsorship provides children and young people with a quality education and equips them with the materials and support needed to succeed. Over the past 18 years we have watched many students graduate, attend university, and successfully find work or start their own business. This brings us to a question we have often asked, “Where are they now?” In this series we highlight 15 individuals who are transforming the growth and economy of Rwanda. These young professionals are part of a generation who want to see every child dream.
Lab Technician, Dream Medical Center Hospital, 24
“Getting a sponsor changed my life a lot. At Africa New Life they taught us God’s word. We were totally transformed spiritually and academically.”
For Peace and her family in the eastern province of Rwanda, life was hard. Her father passed away before Peace was born, leaving her mother to care for six children alone.
“When I was 10 our mother died too, so our grandma came to care for us. But she too passed away and left my oldest sister to move our family to Kayonza. My oldest sister was only 18. She starting working right after high school and got a house for us.”
After their move to Kayonza, the family heard about Africa New Life. Her sister took her and one of the other siblings to get registered for sponsorship. Peace was the brightest student in her district in Primary 6 (6th grade) and got into a competitive all-girls high school.
“God can use anyone to change your life.”
—Peace B. Uwimbabazi
“After I finished high school I applied to universities and got accepted into Mt. Kenya to study medical laboratory sciences. When I was little I wanted to be a doctor. I always wanted to be in the medical field. Since I didn’t have a scholarship, my sisters helped pay for my college tuition.”
Peace knows that without the support of a sponsor she would have never made it.
“I consider getting an education a blessing. Knowing that someone helped me and prayed for me is a gift from God. I really appreciate what my sponsor did for me. When I got letters from her she used to tell me a lot of things and made me have hope for the future. She told me she loved me and prays for me. It was really helpful.”
Peace’s dream is to help others the way she was helped and to be able to transform someone’s life.
“I would tell other girls that God can use anyone to change your life. My goal is to continue working at the Dream Medical Center Hospital and soon go back to get my master’s in hematology, which is the study of blood cells. We have a limited number of researchers in Rwanda and there are many things to learn about blood cells. This can help save many people’s lives.”
Inspection Supervisor and Technician, 24
“Having an education is something great. It differentiates you from other people, takes you from one step to another, and makes you what you want to be.”
Growing up in Uganda, Christian was a stubborn child but was good at helping his mother with housework. He could fix just about any electrical issue in the house.
“My dream as a little boy was to become a mechanical engineer. We moved to Rwanda and in 2004 I got a sponsor to go to school with Africa New Life. I was then in grade two.”
Christian did well in school and got good grades through the end of high school. Unable to afford university, he took a professional course in automotive electricity. Shortly after, Africa New Life called and told him there was an opportunity for him to go to university. He couldn’t believe it. It was a miracle.
“When I got a sponsor we celebrated!
Sponsorship has changed my life in many ways.”
“When I got a sponsor we celebrated! My mother cooked meat, which is known as a celebration meal for some homes in Africa. Sponsorship has changed my life in many ways. It was hard for me to think I could study and finish my university; sponsorship helped me do that and be able to catch up on my dream.”
Christian now works at Horizon Construction as an acting inspection supervisor and technician. He started working there at the age of 19 doing casual labor. After gaining experience, he applied and received an internship with the company while studying at Mt. Kenya University.
“It hasn’t been easy balancing work and school, but I performed well. Now that I have earned some money, I can help my mother and I am able to pay my rent. My dream is to build my mum a good house and buy her a good car.”
In the next five years Christian hopes to become great at his trade and to become a self-employed engineer. He would also love to be able to support someone else in the future.
Business Owner, Missions Coordinator, Designer, 26
“Sponsorship has given me an opportunity to tap into my dream, my gifts, and be where I am today. It has given me an opportunity to have an education. I feel I owe everything I have to sponsorship.”
Born in Uganda, Sharon and her mom moved back to Rwanda in 1996, just two years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. It was hard for her mother to make ends meet, and there was little money for school fees. In Senior 2 (8th grade) Sharon was sponsored through Africa New Life, allowing her to finish high school. She then had the opportunity to apply and interview for the Esther College Scholarship Program, which helps support young women through university.
“I loved the training to give back to the community. I enjoyed the fellowship, leadership training, and I enjoyed everything I had with the [Esther] girls. I will forever remember those years.”
If Sharon had not been sponsored, she feels she would still be living in her old village. Now, with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management, Sharon is the co-owner of a shop called Inzovu Africa Village and works with Arise Ministries as a mission’s coordinator.
“There is a lot of future for this country.”
“In the next five years I hope to have my master’s in global development. I want to see Inzovu growing, employing more people, and being a source of encouragement. I want to travel to learn more.”
Sharon now supports three students in secondary school and a few in primary and preschool with their school fees. She believes sponsorship works and encourages others to help make sure children have the chance to learn and dream of the future.
“I have a hope for Rwanda. They say Rwanda is the heart of Africa. Sometimes it’s not seen on the map because it’s tiny, but I am optimistic that the time will come that the heart will be pumping and everybody will be seeing it. I feel like there is a lot of future for this country.”
Child Development Officer, Bugesera, Africa New Life Ministries, 28
“I was so excited when I got a sponsor. I knew from that point that my life was going to be transformed.”
Jean Pierre grew up in Kigali, Rwanda, with his parents, three brothers, and sister. When he was eight years old, his father passed way from cancer. Jean Pierre’s brother dropped out of school and found work to help him continue with his education. But in high school, his brother could no longer support his school fees. This is when he met with someone at Africa New life who listened to his story and knew he deserved to have a sponsor.
“When I got sponsored that was a blessing. That was the starting point for my dream to become a reality. I think I would be on the streets if I had never got a sponsor.”
Receiving an education made Jean Pierre feel important and proud of everything he had achieved. He was accepted into university, and with the help of another Africa New Life sponsor, he now holds a Bachelor of Education.
“You are partnering with God to make that child hope for a better tomorrow.”
—Jean Pierre Nizeyimana
“Sponsorship transforms your life. Even your spiritual life is not the same. It’s something you can’t take for granted. It’s a gift from God. Sponsoring a child is giving a hope to them. You help make their dreams a reality. You are partnering with God to make that child hope for a better tomorrow.”
Jean Pierre is now working for Africa New Life as a child development officer (CDO) in Bugesera. The local primary school headmaster, Robert, was his CDO when he was in high school. Now, the two of them get to work together.
“I love my job and being with kids. I am the only one in my family who has graduated from university. Even my brother was able to go back to school once I got a sponsor. I think it’s God’s grace for being a university graduate in my family.”
His hope is to share his story with many other children and to remind them that if he made it, then so can they.
School Monitor, 23
“Africa New Life is like a family. For me to be who I am today, where I have learned many things and learned to pray, I got it from New Life.”
Liliane grew up in Kayonza, the daughter of a single mom who volunteered with a hospital. She was not around during the day, so Liliane had to prepare food and take care of her brother. The two children were among the first to get registered and sponsored through Africa New Life.
“It was hard at first because back then Kinyarwanda was the language we had used in school. Now, we had to learn English. This caused me to have to go back a grade in school.”
Liliane soon caught up with her peers, however, and by the end of primary was the number three student in her school. In secondary school, she feels she had the best teachers, helping her not only with her academics but with her preparation for the future.
“Sponsorship is real. The situations our parents were in and how hard it was—it’s hard to express how helpful sponsorship is.”
“I scored with high marks on my Senior 6 (12th grade) exams and got a government scholarship to study in a university. But I didn’t have the other money to cover expenses and housing. Then, I heard about the Esther College Scholarship Program. I went for an interview and got it!”
Liliane is now partway through her bachelor’s degree and hopes to start her own business after graduation. Her dream is to be involved in economic monitoring. She believes she has a role to play in the future of her country—a role that sponsorship helped set her up for.
“Sponsorship is real. The situations our parents were in and how hard it was—it’s hard to express how helpful sponsorship is. Our generation, it is for us to stand and the country itself will be transformed. Rwanda is trying its best for us to get quality education, peace and security. Don’t take any chances for granted. We should work hard and aim high so that we will be the ones to stand in their place when they are no longer standing.”
Business Consultant, 28
“When I got a sponsor, I thought, there are people who still have a heart of giving and taking care of other people’s needs. I felt a hope for living. Africa New Life Ministries and sponsorship changed my life.”
Born in Uganda, Wilson and his family moved to Rwanda in 1996. He is the fifth out of nine siblings. Managing school fees for nine kids was a struggle for his parents, who were cattle farmers.
“Growing up, life was complicated with two of my older siblings not going to school. My dream was always to be a bank manager. When I started in primary school Compassion International sponsored me. Then in high school I met Africa New Life. I got sponsored when I was in Senior 4, which was in 2006. At that time, I really needed a hand with my tuition.”
Wilson says that getting an education changed his life—and his family.
“I studied hard in high school to get the marks needed for applying to university. I got accepted into the School of Finance and Business, which is a campus of University of Rwanda. I am the first in my family that finished university.”
“Sponsoring isn’t about how much one has; it’s about sacrifices.”
Now Wilson sponsors two of his siblings as a way of paying back what he has been given.
“My brother who is 21 is doing business management at Kigali Institute of Management, and my little sister is 23 and she’s at University of Rwanda doing management. Sponsoring isn’t about how much one has; it’s about sacrifices. My intention is to see them through university, then think about my needs later.”
Wilson believes that having an education offers not only new opportunities but also the skills and wisdom to make the most of those opportunities. He hopes his future work creates jobs and hope for others.
“I am now a consultant with Merge Consultancy Limited. We do business consultancy, focus on accounting, and advise people on how to declare taxes. You can have a business, but managing it becomes a challenge without education.
“I am also currently doing my Master of Science in Finance at University of Kigali. My dream is to pursue a CPA after this and then start my own consultancy firm in finance.”
“I am so proud of myself. Not pride, just proud and grateful to God because of what he has done in my life. The Africa New Life model of two hands transformed my life spiritually and my education. Africa New Life is my life. There aren’t enough words to explain it.”
Frida grew up in the eastern province of Rwanda in a village called Mutara with her five siblings and mother. They loved to share stories with each other and laugh. She completed most of her primary schooling until, tragically, her mother died unexpectedly.
“After the death of our mother, we had to move. It’s a story our sisters told us of someone poisoning our mom. We knew we had to leave because if we stayed we could also die. My grandmother came and cared for us for a while, but she too passed away.”
Her oldest sister shifted the family to Kayonza, where she got a job and helped provide for her siblings. There, they met Africa New Life and got Frida and her sister Peace registered for sponsorship.
“A really big part of made me who I am today is all the discipleship and mentorship that was provided to us. It changed my life.”
“Getting a sponsor really helped my life towards my education and spiritual transformation. I was really transformed. It was not only about education, but a really big part of made me who I am today is all the discipleship and mentorship that was provided to us. It changed my life. I really didn’t have hope for me being a pharmacist today. I had no plans to go to college.”
After high school, Frida applied and was accepted into the Esther College Scholarship Program, which provides thirty scholarships a year for girls to attend university. She now has a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and a goal of extending her education in clinical counseling.
When speaking to young girls she mentors, Frida understands and has experienced village life. She tells them that the more they have a relationship with God, the more their lives will change.
“On my day off I go to pray. People expect me to say I go for swimming or parties, but for sure I love being in church. I mentor four girls in the ministry at church and I am one of the leaders of the girls’ ministry that works with Pastor Florence. I have even started helping another person with their school fees. I want to make everyone proud and help others. My heart is really longing for that.
Managing Director, Doxa General Supply, 32
“If I’d never had a sponsor, I think my life wouldn’t be good. I wouldn’t have received an education. I thank God that I got a sponsor.”
At the age of 14, the youngest in his family, Ronald was selling cows in Uganda. His sister was living in Rwanda and decided he should come live with her.
“My sister was working for Africa New Life at the time and knew about their sponsorship program. When I got a sponsor I felt so excited. My sponsor used to send me photos and came to visit me. I knew I could finally study what I wanted to study. My sponsor used to say to dream big.”
By age 15, Ronald was studying and receiving an education he had never thought was possible. His school fees paid for, supplies and uniform provided, his life was being transformed.
“Receiving an education has meant a lot to me. Without education I wouldn’t have my business. It has been so meaningful to me. It has changed my life. My dream was to have my own business and be able to buy things for myself without the help of anyone else.”
“Without education I wouldn’t have my business.
It has been so meaningful to me.”
After completing high school, Ronald went to Mt. Kenya University and graduated in 2015. He was able to see his dream becoming reality.
“I am now married with one child. I have 3 nieces and nephews that I help sponsor and support in primary school by paying their school fees.”
In the next five years Ronald sees himself doing a lot of business and working hard. One goal of his is to expand to nearby countries.
“I always look at what is going well in my country and business can change according to the situation of where you are at. Rwanda is growing everyday. If you see Rwanda 10 years back and then today you will see a very big change. It is growing very speedy and has an amazing economy. I see a very good future for Rwanda.”
“If I hadn’t been sponsored, I wouldn’t have acquired any education. Life would have been very hard.”
Sarah grew up in Uganda and was raised by her grandmother. She never knew her parents. When Sarah’s family eventually moved to Rwanda, her grandmother heard about Africa New Life.
“She was able to get me registered for a sponsor for my education. I received a sponsor in Primary 2 (2nd grade) through Senior 6 (12th grade). The education I received from Africa New Life helped me be able to read and write.”
After high school, Sarah found a job working as a cashier at her brother’s shop.
“I believe my brother gave me a job because I was able to read and write. I worked at my brother’s shop from December 2015 to March 2017. I still have hopes of completing my studies and going to university. If I had the opportunity, I would pursue a bachelor’s in marketing.”
“After earning some money I would then like to sponsor someone else in need.”
Sarah’s job right now is a crucial one, though: mothering her child. She wants to teach her son to value love for all and prayer, since love sees no negativity and with prayer we fight onwards.
“I am a joyous person who sees myself becoming an empowered woman in the next five years. My job has changed now I am a mother. Being that I didn’t have a mother, I do my best to take care of my child, so that by the time I start engaging in other responsibilities he will know mum cared for me.”
Sarah desires to get a job soon and enroll into university to extend her studies.
“Once I complete university, my dream is to start a canteen that serves fast food near the airport. I have already made a pilot study and realized that area is still lacking. After earning some money I would then like to sponsor someone else in need.”
IT Director and Founder, 25
“I love my job because it’s my life. It’s me doing everything I’ve ever wanted freely and with hope.”
As a child, Benjamin would help out around the house with small jobs, lending a hand cooking and cleaning with his siblings. His dream was to be a soccer player. Born and raised in Rwanda, he was the seventh born out of eight children.
“I heard about Africa New Life for the first time when a friend of mine told me in school. My mom was a teacher there and she saw they were registering kids for sponsorship. This was a blessing to my parents as it had been hard supporting all 8 kids with school fees.”
2004 was a great year for Benjamin. He was now in primary four (4th grade) and had a sponsor to help him with his education, something he had never thought possible. By 2010, he had excelled in school and found his passion for computer science. He was interested in how to work with applications and websites.
“I couldn’t have gone to school or university without being sponsored.”
—Mugisha Benjamin Kamufozi
In 2015, he started his own IT company while studying in university.
“I couldn’t have gone to school or university without being sponsored. Having that opportunity was a blessing to me. One day, I would like to help someone else the way I was helped.”
With the Rwandan economy growing, Benjamin sees the tech industry as the heart of everything for his country. He wants to use his company to help further advance policies and programs for the government.
“Five years from now I will be the CEO of my company offering tech services, development and hosting digital marketing for companies. Some companies need to work with specialized programs and we will bring those services. I want to have my own academy for developers. Right now we are just few, so I would like to help people who want to learn this skill.”
Hotel Receptionist, 24
“Sponsorship gave me a way to help me where I wanted to go.”
Born in Uganda, Gloria moved to Rwanda as a young child. In 2005, she was one of the first children in Kigali to be sponsored with Africa New Life. After primary school, Gloria attended an all-girls high school, then received a scholarship to the Akilah Institute, where her passion for hospitality grew more and more.
“Hospitality is more of serving and you learn a lot. It’s beyond what you think. You can be connected to many people who will show you new things.”
Gloria now works at the Hotel Villa Portofino Kigali with a degree in hospitality management. Hospitality is a booming industry in Rwanda; new hotels are constantly opening up and tourism companies are growing.
“Sponsorship gave me a way to help me where I wanted to go.”
Gloria feels that sponsorship was the beginning of her success. Her faith is what sustains her today.
“I loved how being sponsored helped me get close to God. Since I joined Africa New Life when I was young I went to Sunday school and sang at New Life Bible Church. I learned so much not just being sponsored, but spiritually.
I grew up in a disciplined and God-loving life. Sometimes my job is confusing because you meet different people, different cultures, and different attitudes. Since I know God and know who I am, I can now achieve things and not be distracted.
“My dream is to have my own tour company. I love travel and tourism. I enjoy learning about people and I value diversity. This helps us learn from each other and live in peace. With my own company, I can contribute back to my country. For my younger brother, I now support him and pay for his school fees. I want the same opportunities for him that were given to me.”
Passenger Handling Supervisor, RwandAir, 30
“Being sponsored has completely changed my life; I wouldn’t have been able to complete my studies without Africa New Life. Together with my family we have gained a lot.”
Wilberforce grew up with his grandmother in Kabarole district in western Uganda. His family got to know Africa New Life through a friend, and eventually they started attending New Life Bible Church.
“I grew up as the only boy in the house. So, I would collect firewood, dig, wash clothes, and do many other chores. These are chores I still do! In 2004, I was able to get a sponsor with Africa New Life for my education. I was among the first one hundred kids sponsored in Kayonza.”
Before getting sponsored, Wilberforce was worried about how he would go to school. Sponsorship came as an opening for him.
“If I hadn’t been sponsored, I don’t know where I would be. Probably, I would be somewhere in the village struggling. Maybe God would have opened another way if it weren’t through Africa New Life. The memories I have during my time of being sponsored are that this is a family. It has been more than a ministry for me.”
“Sponsorship works! The government can’t help all the citizens; the work of Africa New Life is supporting the government.”
After completing high school, Wilberforce continued to university at the School of Finance and Banking where he received a bachelor’s in finance. Following that, he joined Mt. Kenya University and got a master’s degree in project management. This was possible because of sponsorship.
“In Africa, you can’t get anywhere without education. The little I earn today is because I went to school. Now I am married with a newborn son. Sponsorship works! The government can’t help all the citizens; the work of Africa New Life is supporting the government. I hope to give back to society through education and to sponsor a child through Africa New Life.”
In the near future Wilberforce hopes to become a manager. His dreams are about working hard to get where he wants to be.
“As of today, I believe Rwanda is growing. My hope for Rwanda is that we all can do whatever we can to give back to our country’s development, through paying taxes, and engaging in local community projects.”
Customer Relations Officer, Dream Medical Center Hospital, 23
“Everything is possible with God. The knowledge we get from education we can apply anywhere.”
Born in Uganda, Regina moved to Rwanda when she was less than a year old. She was the seventh of eight kids who grew up in a home full of love.
“When I was small I would do work around the house to help my parents. My dad would wake up early, around 5 am, to fetch water, wash plates, or sweep the ground. He had no money, but was such a loving parent guiding us. Some of my other siblings didn’t get a chance to go to school. But, from the love and discipline we had at home they all still tried hard and found work.”
After struggling with school fees her first two years of primary school, Regina’s family heard about Africa New Life and were able to get her registered and sponsored.
“I was one of the first fifty kids registered with New Life. One of my brothers was sponsored, too, and he just finished college last year and is now working. My dream back then was to become a doctor.”
“To have someone who really cares for you is amazing.”
After completing high school, Regina applied for the Esther Program. She was mentored and guided on a good career path. It helped her find her passion in finance.
“I really love math. The training we were given in the Esther Program really helped me figure out what I wanted to do. We were given so much encouragement. The spirit of collaboration and sisterhood was my favorite part of this program. To have someone who really cares for you is amazing.”
Soon, Regina will have a Bachelor in Finance degree. She currently works as a customer relations officer at the Dream Medical Center and plans to get her CPA licensure after she graduates. In the future, Regina wants to become an accountant and to use her income to support someone in her family with an education.
“I want to give someone the same opportunity I had. My hope for Rwanda is for more people to go to school. Many people are not employed and this can be solved through education.”
Media Department Intern, Africa New Life Ministries, 21
“If I weren’t sponsored, I am likely to have been a cattle keeper, because my father wanted us to take that path. I would have no dream or target in life. But now I can dream about where to take my life.”
Born in Rwanda to a family of eleven kids, Eric’s family was once well off, but then lost everything. His mom got to know about Africa New Life through their neighborhood.
“Growing up, I was too stubborn. I don’t remember helping my mother with chores. But my mother’s endless advice made me the person I am today. In 2015, my parents moved back to Uganda to do farming. My sister then stepped in and took care of me and one of my brothers. She has a small business that helped provide for us.”
Since 2006, starting in Primary 1 (1st grade), Eric has been sponsored through Africa New Life in Currently, Eric attends the Adventist University in Rwanda where he is working on a bachelor’s in networking and communication systems. He works as an intern to the Media Coordinator in our Kigali office.
“From my family, it’s two of us that are sponsored. My mother was happy about us being sponsored, I remember her smile; and as I think about it right now, it’s because she knew she couldn’t manage raising our school fees.”
“If you feed someone physically, spiritually, and educate him or her while taking care of their health, what more could be asked for? That’s what Africa New Life has done for me.”
With a passion for media and photography, Eric sees himself in the next five years using his skills to tell stories on behalf of underprivileged communities like the one he grew up in.
“Use photos to tell a story. This is what I want to do. This way people can see who I am and what I do. I have seen firsthand experience within my family of a life without an education. Education has enabled me to be a critical thinker and think of the future.”
Eric’s hope for Rwanda is that it will continue to be transformed as its children are given hope through sponsorship and education.
“Rwanda is highly developed in terms of the economy and leadership. The hope I have is that in the coming years, people will continue to develop and organizations like Africa New Life will still contribute to the growth of Rwanda. If you feed someone physically, spiritually, and educate him or her while taking care of their health, what more could be asked for? That’s what Africa New Life has done for me.”
Polyfarm Clinic Nurse, 30
“When I was little I wanted to be a doctor. I loved doctors and wanted to be just like them.”
Emmanuel was born into a poor family in the south of Rwanda. His parents were not able to care for him and his five siblings. When he was around seven years old, they left the children to live on their own.
“We took care of ourselves, we tried hard. I was in primary school but was dropping out because of how stressful life was. My older siblings would go out and find small jobs to take care of us. They would go farm, take care of cattle, or dig for crops. They would bring home only milk. I was in and out of school, which caused me to be in primary (elementary) more years than I was supposed to.”
After finally completing sixth grade at age fifteen, Emmanuel was introduced to Africa New Life. That day, his entire life changed. He got a sponsor.
“Sponsorship was so much more than helping with school fees.”
“Having a sponsor has helped me a lot. It helped me learn how to pray. Coming for Center Days made me feel like I’m not alone and gave me hope for a future. I started going to school like other kids. When I was in my first years of high school, the change in me compared to my friends in the village made me feel like I had so many good things to come. Sponsorship was so much more than helping with school fees. They would follow up on us, check our marks and made sure we excelled in what we were doing.”
Receiving an education gave Emmanuel hope, and now he gives hope back to his community. With a Bachelor of Nursing degree, he works at a polyfarm clinic serving patients in one of the busiest sections of Kigali. His ultimate dream is to become a doctor so he can help save more lives.
“Even though there are so many diseases, I am hopeful in a few years we will have many doctors to help with this. We can all work together with the help of the government and science. I have so much hope because this is a country that is growing with advanced technology and facilities to help us.”
See a glimpse of the people whose lives have been transformed in Rwanda.
Learn about how sponsorship works