Q&A: 'You Have To Be Educated To Be A Leader'

  • Eunice Wanjiru interviews DEMETRI MUKANDASHIMIYE, nurse, Nyamata Health Centre (bugesera district, rwanda)
  • Inter Press Service

Settling down to talk to us in her small office - an examination bed in one corner, a file cabinet opposite, a long wooden table holding hospital equipment like thermometers, a stethoscope and a few documents - Demetri Mukandashimiye, gazes across her neatly arranged work desk.

The bulk of her work, she says, consists of admitting pregnant mothers and immunising infants. And following up on the mothers to ensure they don't skip any immunisation days.

Mukundashimiye - who attends to emergency cases even at 7 pm when the hospital is supposed to be closed - strongly believes that formal education has played a huge part in making her life what is today.

Comfortable she calls it. A widow for the last six years, she says she has been able to take on the responsibility for making sure her young children do not lack for anything.

IPS: How has formal education influenced your life? DEMITRI MUKANDASHIMIYE: It is very different because now that I am educated, I have a job, a salary. I can go to a bank and get a loan because I will be able to pay it back easily. This can enable me to start a project like building a house.

A woman who is not educated will not be able to take of herself and her family financially. Walking into a bank to ask for a loan, what collateral will she have? She has no source of revenue.

IPS: How has education affected your status in the community? DM: People respect me more; whenever I go anywhere I am received warmly. They remember the services I provide them and regard me so highly.

Yes, I would say I am listened to more and respected even more, and that is something that has come through my job. The women who come to the hospital hang on to my every word. Anything I tell them is taken seriously.

Because of my position my colleagues also respect me, and treat me with the esteem I deserve.

IPS: Is formal education tied to women’s development according to you? DM: Absolutely. It's necessary because it is obvious that even the women who are in leadership are there because they went to school. They have the knowledge because they acquired it through education and that has enabled them to reach leadership positions. You can't be a leader unless you are educated.

IPS: Has your education influenced you as a mother, or your ability to raise your children? DM: In life there are many things I cater for by myself. Being a window, it is all on my shoulders. Although I do not lead an extravagant lifestyle, I can afford the basic necessities. Materially I get along just fine.

Education has also brought me closer to my boys. I am able to help them with their homework, because I understand how important school is.

I want my children to excel in school, acquire knowledge and go even further in life. At this point they get everything they want from me, thanks to education that got me a job. I am also able to understand their problems as they grow older and how best to tackle them.

I am not saying uneducated mothers are unable to understand their children, it is just that with formal education, I believe understanding many things becomes easier.

IPS: Would you consider taking your education even further, given a chance? DM: Yes, absolutely. I would like to, but I do not have the means to finance that now and I do not know where one can go to ask for sponsorship. I don’t even think such a place exists. I'm not sure whether the government offers sponsorships to those who would like to further their education

I also think nursing schools here in Rwanda are not easy to find, if you know what I mean. Good nursing schools, with equipment, good trainers and other facilities to help one enhance their career in this field.

IPS: what are your hopes for sons' education and would be the most important thing for them to learn in school? DM: I simply want my children to be the best they can be, I never want them to ever fail to achieve something and that is why I lead by example. I want them to acquire the knowledge to get them through life’s problems like financial difficulties but most importantly I want them to learn from school that nothing comes easy and everything has to be worked hard for.

© Inter Press Service (2009) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service