Drocella Mukamashyaka, 30, was a farmer before she enrolled in Kepler in 2019. She reared livestock such as pigs and chickens, but decided to change the course of her life by gaining new skills and knowledge.
Mukamashyaka, who lives near Kiziba, the oldest refugee camp in Rwanda, struggled to get an opportunity to advance herself after completing her high school studies. Located in Rwankuba Sector, Karongi District, Western Province, the refugee camp was established in 1996 after an influx of refugees from DRC at the start of the civil war in DRC. Kepler opened a campus to provide access to higher education to refugees in a remote area in 2015.
Since 2018, Kepler has been reaching out to Rwandans from the host communities in Kiziba with Mukamashyaka being one of the early beneficiaries of a scholarship program usually reserved for Congolese students.
Thanks to Kepler, a new world has opened up to Mukamashyaka, providing her with the ability to map a new pathway in her life. Mukamashyaka is one of the six Rwandans that have benefitted from the limited scholarships that Kepler provides to refugee students.
Kepler offered Mukamashyaka a fully-funded scholarship because she did not have the means to pay school fees. Mukamashyaka has to walk about five kilometers from her home to the Kepler campus in Kiziba to study with others.
“I am thankful for having this opportunity of receiving a fully-funded scholarship from Kepler. The environment is very friendly,” she said, adding that Kepler gives chances to all students regardless of the courses they learned in high school.
“The openness of students with staff members is something I like about Kepler as well. Whenever a student has a problem, they feel free to share to have a common response,” said Mukamashyaka.
She said that one of her biggest fears was going against any Kepler student policies. With her home being a huge distance from campus, she was worried about being in breach of Kepler’s policy against lateness.
Kepler works to instill a sense of respect for time amongst its students. Mukamashyaka took this to heart and has been punctual for all the time she has been at Kepler.
“I was also afraid of typing. I was afraid that I would not be able to meet expectations and I have had to make it through practice,” she said. “I do a lot of things. Planning my duties is key. I make sure that I do some housework as a person who is living with elderly parents, and also make sure I accomplish all the tasks I have.
Mukamashyaka said that learning from other students has helped her significantly to settle in at Kepler. I have a dream I want to make real and this pushes me harder every morning. I come to class with a lot of excitement,”
According to Mukamashyaka, her experience at Kepler has helped to strengthen her resilience.
“My motto is that starting is difficult but it is possible to have a good end. It is hard to project where I will be in the future but I have high hopes that my education will help me to change my life, my standards of living, and I have high hopes of giving back to the community,” she said.