JRS educates refugees throughout the Great Lakes Region including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. Projects include training courses, vocational education, and other tools to help build their lives again. These education projects have helped many children and adults to dreamand achieve a future outside of a camp.
Jean Pierre Ndagijimana was born to Rwandan refugee parents in Congo. His family had been refugees since 1959. He grew up in numerous refugee camps throughout the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Life in refugee camps wasn’t easy, but his family was protected and had food, shelter, security, and health care. While Jean Pierre credits the camps for meeting his basic needs, it was through JRS’s education services that he started thinking about his future.
“I remember the pure joy I felt when I went to the JRS office in the camp and was measured for my uniform and was given pens and paper,” Jean Pierre said. “I jumped for joy knowing I was going to learn.”
Jean Pierre received his elementary education through JRS and when time came received a full scholarship from JRS to attend a local public high school. JRS provides scholarships that give qualifying individuals financial assistance for tuition, room and board, transportation, and even pocket money. Jean Pierre remarked that JRS gave him andhis fellow scholarship recipients “everything that could help us perform well, regardless of our refugee status, and, surprisingly, most of the time, refugees were the best performers in the schools.”
Jean Pierre is currently a research scholar and visiting global fellow at the University of San Francisco. He also works on social justice causes on and off campus to provide support for homeless men and women in San Francisco.Jean Pierre hopes to bring this service back to his roots when he returns to Rwanda. He hopes to help people recover and heal – just as JRS’s education programs helped him.
“Life in a refugee camp is like a dark tunnel, where your eyes are always trying hard to open to see if there would be an end,” Jean Pierre said. “Educational opportunities in refugee camps were the only thing that guaranteed that my life would be better.”
We invite you to learn more about refugee education, share stories of why refugee education is so important, and give the gift of education through our online Global Education Initiative Gift Catalog. You can purchase items like a new pair of school shoes for a refugee child for $25 or provide a whole classroom with textbooks for $100. With your support, we can give more students a seat in the classroom.