On determination

Joyce, from Rwanda, had long dreamt about an opportunity to further her education. She has been living in Malawi’s Dzaleka refugee camp. As a mother of five children it was challenging but with her husband’s support, JWL’s flexibility, and being able to leave her children at JRS’ day-care centre, she finally completed the JWL Diploma programme this summer. This, she finds, is “a testimony of courage, hard work and determination” on her part.

Despite a life fraught with trials, loss, and her continued challenges as a refugee, Joyce is thankful for having survived and believes in the future. Living and learning alongside persons from different backgrounds and becoming aware of the different challenges she and others faced as refugees, she has realised that “being a refugee doesn’t stop one to fulfil one’s determinations.” As far as she sees it, once one finds answers to questions such as who they are, what they are determined to do and what comes next, living life and fulfilling your goals becomes easier.

Running her own little convenience store provides modest revenues that go towards covering, among other things, care for her whole family, as well as towards renting a plot of land on which she and her husband cultivate tomatoes.

For her internship, Joyce volunteered within the Dzaleka Health Centre’s department of home-based care, assisting persons with a range of afflictions. Three days a week, house visits would be conducted to listen to patients’ needs and collect data for reporting, as necessary. Now, Joyce collects data about infants under the age of five and also conducts tests for a range of diseases, in the laboratory. Through this work, the number of teen mothers and their lack of access to education and other opportunities became apparent.

As a mother and having learned the necessary skills to bring about social change, Joyce has decided to establish a ‘Teen Mothers Association.’ The idea would be to “lift” these young women, orient them towards education, showing them the difference it can make; how despite being a mother of five she still managed to achieve her dreams; and that they still have a chance.