The eldest of seven, Ms. Brown was born December 9, 1930 in Commodore
Pennsylvania a small coal mining community. She is the mother of five, grandmother
of 17 and Great Grandmother of 14. The majority of her life was spent as a
housewife & mother, nurse, substitute teacher and finally as a group leader in a local
electronics plant. As she says, “I was a very ordinary person doing ordinary things.”
She feels that “From the beginning I was in training for the life I would lead
after I retired from the work force. A life dedicated to serving needy, abused and
abandoned children in Rwanda.”
Ms. Brown grew up in a time when electricity, flush toilets, running water, paved
roads, phones, television and computers were not common. She knew how to live
without these things and “so the move to Rwanda was not such a hardship as it
would be for youngsters today.”
At age 65 Ms. Brown traveled to Zaire, currently the Democratic Republic of Congo,
and spent three months working in refugee camps around the town of Goma. She
believes that “children are the victims in any conflict.” Seeing the plight of the
Rwandan children in Zaire, she was determined to return some day to make a
difference in their lives.
In 2006 after several trips to Rwanda, Ms. Brown sold her home, car and all her
possessions and made the move to Rwanda to spend the rest of her life. Her heart is
Urukundo Foundation & Hope Made Real are the products of many who joined Ms.
Brown in her mission to give hope to both the children and adults in Rwanda and to
make their futures brighter.
Dr. Gertrude Fester is a feminist activist, educator, poet and writer from South Africa, who is a former Member of Parliament, and a Commissioner of the Gender Commission. Gertrude Fester has a long history of political activism focusing on women’s liberation within the national democratic struggle in South Africa. She has hence held various formal political portfolios post-1994 and has pioneered together with others, seminal NGOs working towards popularizing the African Feminist Charter and promoting a united Feminist Voice. Her key passions include transformation and education.
Gertrude has a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies from the London School of Economics. She has published widely, both fiction and non-fiction. Prior to 1994 she was an educator for 21 years and was inspired by the future teachers whom she trained. She is currently Professor at the Centre for Gender, Culture and Development, Kigali Institute of Education, Rwanda
Jacques Kayisire is the founder and vice-Chairman of the Association of Former Soccer Players
(Association des Anciens Footballeurs du Rwanda) and operates a football academy known as
the “Dream Team Football Academy”. He is also a chairperson of the youth Football Committee
in Rwanda Football Association, FERWAFA. Jacques has also worked in the ICT sector and
government administration sectors.
His Dream Team Academy has won support from the Rwandan government among others for
its mission to empower Rwandan youth to become confident, team-oriented leaders in their
communities and by providing a safe and positive after-school environment.
Gilbert Munyemana is the Project Manager of the Teacher Self Learning Academy at
Plan International Rwanda. the project he manages aspires to reengineer the teacher
training system by bringing the Learning world in the hands of the teacher. This initiative
will innovatively deliver the digital teacher learning content through easy-to-use digital
hand-held devices (Ipod touch) that house a library of instructional videos and other
educational applications (for English and Science) that can be used without internet
The pilot project, sponsored by DFID and the government of Rwanda, aims to improve
the quality of teaching and learning in Science and English in primary grades 5 & 6
by using innovative methods and appropriate technology to improve the teaching
language, content and methodology.
Before joining Plan International Rwanda, Gilbert was heading the Center for
Instructional Technology at the National University of Rwanda. He received his
first degree in Rwanda, his country of origin, and obtained his Bachelor’s degree
in IT Applications in Management from the National University before joining the
academic staff of the same institution. He specialized in IT applications in Education
at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and was awarded a Masters of
Education in the field of Educational Technology.
Being one of the few highly qualified and experienced educational Technologists
in Rwanda, Gilbert is working hand in hand with other stakeholders to facilitate the
integration of ICT in education and explore ways to improve access and quality to/of
Education in his country and in the region. He is now involved in different Educational
technology initiatives and he is a member of the Taskforce on creating the first college
of open and Distance learning in Rwanda.
Born in 1990, Angel Uwamahoro, fled the pre-genocide violence in Rwanda to Uganda as a
newborn with her mother. Unlike many Rwandan refugees, she had a happy childhood in
Kampala and was an active student involved in acting, singing, and dancing. At age seven,
she and her mother moved to California, U.S.A where she continued to nurture her passion
for art. In 2001, when her mother decided that they should return to Rwanda, Uwamahoro
was very skeptical of what life would be in such “war-torn” country. At her arrival, she was
very shocked to find a country of a thousand breathtaking hills, a beautiful culture and the
people who predominantly spoke French and Kinyarwanda. Three years after, she was
enrolled in a French speaking school which allowed her to become a fluent French speaker.
Though school took up most of her time, she remained involved in acting, singing, and
dancing. In 2005, she joined Mashirika, one of the best theater performing arts group in
Rwanda where she has played many roles as a leading actress, travelling across the country
and abroad, including the United States.
In 2007, Uwamahoro represented Lycee De Kigali Secondary School at a three weeks youth
leadership program in the USA, organized by the United States foreign affairs department.
Upon her return, she was elected the Head Girl at her high school, presiding over 1500
students. Uwamahoro graduated high school successfully with a track record of leadership
skills. Since then, she has taken on different job positions in the area of art, marketing and
mass communication which have strengthened her leadership skills and fuelled her desire
to study Theater and Performing arts. In her work as the National Coordinator of Aegis
Students at the Kigali Genocide memorial center, she acquired more knowledge about the
history of the genocide in Rwanda, which she hopes to teach through art.
She is currently attending Monash University in South Africa, on a full presidential
scholarship, where she studies Social Sciences while working as a freelance
communications consultant, offering diverse services to different companies and
international and local institutions in both the public and private sector in Rwanda. She
is looking for a prestigious school in the U.S.A. with a great Theater and Performing Art
program and hope to start in fall 2013. Uwamahoro’s dream is to acquire the necessary
knowledge and experience to build a Rwandan Theater and Performing arts school in
Ariane Inkesha Has been evolving in peace initiatives for over 4 years in Rwanda as a public relations agent, researcher, consultant and project coordinator. As researcher and head of communications at the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), main tasks include developing communication strategies, disseminating research results country wide, being the focal contact with donors and other civil society organizations, monitoring and evaluating progress markers and advocating for change using media. Also participates in coordinating some of the institute’s projects such as reinforcing women’s capacities in conflict resolution and prevention through experience sharing trips in post conflict countries.
She is a founding member of Solid'Africa and has been its Vice-President since the inception of the NGO. Her main tasks include fund raising, raising awareness on health related issues and public relations.
She is a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative launched by President Obama in 2010.