Faith Uwantege set up Faith Foundation to answer the issue of Rwandan children and women living below the poverty line. To realise her dream, she saved up while working her 9-5, all while knowing that when she quit, it’ll be to work in something she was truly passionate about.
Through her foundation, Faith encourages vulnerable women to sell handicrafts they make themselves. Faith Uwantege is working towards breaking the poverty cycle in Rwanda by encouraging people to be self-reliant.
What do you think of the industry you work in?
Well, that’s quite a handful of a question but I’ll try my best to answer it. On a personal level, what I dedicated my life to do is not something that’s being done by everybody else. So I cannot say I am competing or comparing myself with anybody in the industry.
All I can say is that it takes a lot of passion, dedication and selflessness to be in this kind of industry. So what do I think of this industry? I think the answer to that question is quite relative depending on who you ask!
Tell us about saving your salary to see your dream come true. How long did you have to save? Did you have any other plans outside just saving?
I really can’t specify how long it took me to save in order to start my dream. All I remember is that I had this burning desire to help helpless children and get them off the street.
It is not actually monetary saving alone, I sacrificed my time to be with these children and to try to pinpoint the most vulnerable ones.
In what ways do you restore hope to vulnerable children and women?
I restore hope in vulnerable children and women first of all by convincing them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Before giving them any other form of help, I give them a vocal assurance. I teach women how to be self sustainable by creating and selling hand crafts and helping their children live a better life. I teach women how weave baskets (commonly known as ‘agaseke’) and I also teach them how to use sewing machines.
How do you think the poverty cycle can be broken in Rwanda?
The poverty cycle in Rwanda can only be broken by teaching people to be self-reliant, by changing their mindsets.
Most poor people in Rwanda think that since they are poor, they are only meant to survive on government hand outs and foreign aid. This is a wrong perception because nobody was created to be poor. Once you convince them that they can actually be self-reliant, that’s the beginning of poverty eradication.Faith Uwantege: What I dedicated my life to do isn't being done by everybody else Click To Tweet
What is exciting to you about being a young Rwandan woman today?
What’s exciting to me about being a young Rwandan woman today, is that I have a say in the society. Thanks to our president, who actually embarked on a war to ensure that there is gender balance in the country.
He also ensured that all children have equal opportunity in education and jobs in order for them to contribute to the development of the country.
Do you engage in any other projects outside Faith Foundation?
I dedicate myself fully to this foundation and that’s all that I do.
I might consider doing other things in the future but at the moment, I think my effort and focus is still vital in the foundation.
Who is your mentor and how important has she/he been in the growth of your project?
My mentor is Nick Hills, he is one of a kind! He has played an important role and is still there for the Faith Foundation in so many immeasurable ways as a donor and as my advisor. I look up to him!
I met my mentor Nick Hills first during his visit to Rwanda. Like most other tourists who had travelled here, Nick came with his family to see Rwanda’s famous mountain gorillas.
What five skills do young women need to successfully run a foundation like yours?
The five skills I think women or any other person for that matter needs to be successful in running this kind of foundation are;
- Dedication: A woman needs to be dedicated even if the journey seems rough. It’s actually the challenges that make us more stronger in this kind of field.
- Determination: A woman that wants to be successful in this industry, must be determined. Without determination, you’ll easily give up.
- Passion for what she does. I always tell people that it’s very important to do something that they are passionate about. Be it in a business or in a non- profit organization, it just makes it so much easier. If there’s no passion, then don’t even bother.
- Hard work: Work harder even without expecting something in return. It’s worth it.
- Simply having a big and helpful heart. If I didn’t have a big heart, I would probably have given up. There are many challenges in this industry, especially that it does not pay. It’s the big and helpful heart that drives us.
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