It Took a Village—In Texas

March 10 felt like Christmas for Mondiant Initiative scholars. Exactly like that, Shema Prince says about the day he and 19 student colleagues were given their own personal computers. Before, I was doing my exercises with a pen and notebook. Prince is 20, and an IT major at Adventist University of Central Africa.

They were waiting two years, says program officer Esther Kirabo. We told them to be patient, and they knew we had to give priority to the disciplines with the biggest challenges, referring to Computer Science and Information Technology majors. Mondiant Initiative scholars pursue, among other degrees, Nursing, Architecture, Business and Finance Management.

Refugee students endure many hardships, Kirabo, herself a former refugee, understands too well. College study without a computer is a smaller hardship, by comparison, but makes it that much more difficult to perform at one’s best. Wi-Fi cafes also proved more of an obstacle than an option. Each scholarship includes a monthly stipend along with tuition, room and board, but it doesn’t go very far.

Mondiant Initiative has changed my life since Day One, said Germaine Uwera, 21, in her second year as an Architect major at the University of Rwanda. But before giving computers, life was more complicated. I would put my ideas on paper then stay after class to transfer them to someone else’s computer. It took a lot of time. Using the Macbook’s applications means I can be more creative, Uwera says.

I am so grateful to Mondiant Dogon, the staff and all the donors. I won’t take this opportunity for granted. Being a Mondiant Initiative scholar changes my life totally.

Laptop maintenance before being sent to Rwanda
Apple Macbooks for our students.

Delivering the Laptops to Our Students Across Rwanda

Mondiant Initiative has made remarkable progress since Mondiant Dogon founded the organization in December, 2021. Chief among its achievements is a first-year cohort of 20 gifted young refugee students from camps across Rwanda—already the largest of its kind in the history of the country. Noting that you might make it through English classes but you can’t get through computer science without a computer, board member Scott Baker says the initiative bought seven PCs for the computer science majors. Our computer science students requested PCs because they are better for programming. However, cost was a limiting factor for the other students, which required some resourcefulness.

Mister Mac description on a macbook computer screen.

Serendipitously, Baker runs Mister Mac, an independent Apple repair service in the village of Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley: population 3,000. Mister Mac’s clientele: roughly 2,000. I knew there were a lot of older devices out there . . . so I put out a video asking for donations. Mission accomplished—and then some. Twenty-five laptops arrived. Using parts from the older devices, Baker configured the MacBooks for the remaining 13 students. Mister Mac donated all the hard drives and labor, Baker says, but it was the community that really stepped up. Customers also donated $5,000 in cash.

We are so thankful, says scholar Shema Prince. Sunday, March 10, a special day, I won’t forget, ever. Adds Germaine Uwera: I am so grateful to Mondiant Dogon, the staff and all the donors. I won’t take this opportunity for granted. Being a MI scholar changes my life totally.

Close up of the laptops before being sent to Rwanda.

What does it take to support students in our scholarship program?

Every year, Mondiant Initiative representatives visit refugee camps across Rwanda to hand-deliver scholarships to bright young refugee students. Through Mondiant Initiative’s partnerships and the generous support of organizations across the country, we are able to slash the price of tuition to a fraction of what students outside of our program must pay. Despite discounted tuition, program costs add up quickly. Critical wraparound support services like food and clothing stipends, housing, leadership training, and psychosocial support bring costs to over $6,000 per student, per year.

Mondiant Initiative’s top priority is to guarantee that our current scholars will have the necessary support to fully complete the four-year program. The future of our program and the size of each new cohort depends on the amount of funds raised in the previous year. It’s because of this that the generosity of supporters like yourself are so valuable to our mission. On behalf of everyone at MI, thank you for your contributions.

Our Scholars With Their Laptops

Although it’s worth celebrating, we’re back at work raising funds for next year’s cohort, too. If our stories and mission resonate with you, please consider supporting our students with a donation that’s suitable for your budget. The value of your contributions go beyond the dollar amount attached to them—they are a powerful declaration of support and encouragement that our students feel.

Mondiant Initiative scholars with their new laptops.