Going to School in Rwanda


My sisters tricked me into coming over to Kigali, Rwanda for the rest of my winter break by promising me fun and adventures. But it was a trap! They actually want me here not for my amazing personality and quick wit but so I will code the Akilah Institute‘s web page. They entice me to come visit the campus and then BAM, I am chained to a chair and forced to code away all day. Look at the conditions I am forced to work in:

Trapped as a Programming Prisoner

Okay, I won’t be so dramatic. The campus actually looks like this:

The Akilah Campus

Fine, I admit that being their free-labor coder hasn’t been too terrible so far- I make a few simple changes, they are happy, I get a big ego, and then I start demanding everybody call me Webmaster of the Universe. Until today… when I broke the website. It was a bleak, bleak time for me as I scrambled about trying to access the server through an FTP program because there was a parse error and the site was down and no one could get on the site and I couldn’t fix the php file I broke and millionaire donors were trying to access the site and give Akilah lots of $$$$$ and I was going to be in big trouble. Oh boy. Anyway, yes, I ended up fixing the site with no one the wiser (of course, they will be wiser once they read this post), but now I realize I am actually not the hot shot that I thought I was. Sigh. I thought I was perfect until now. I guess I should keep my day job.

Well, now that I’m done being melodramatic, let me show you around campus.

Akilah, Overlooking the Hills of Rwanda

When I arrive on campus everyday at around 9, the girls are already in the classrooms studying. They wake up in the wee hours around 5am, walk up and down hills to get to school by 7:30, and then they sit in class until 2:30. Even once school ends, most stay to do homework until 4:30, when they leave for their jobs. One of the girls I talked to works at a casino, and when I asked her what her work hours are, she responded, “4:30 to 12, 1, or 2am, it depends.” So on some nights, by the time she gets home, she gets to sleep for less than 3 hours before having to wake up for school again. Which means she needs to get all her homework done between 2:30, when school gets out, and 4:30, when she needs to be changed and at the casino ready to work. Wow. And I complain about my 10am classes.

After School, Still Working

Akilah currently has a total of 110 girls enrolled: 38 girls in the second year Blue Class and 72 in the first year Green and Yellow classes. Their classes range from Hospitality, Leadership, Public Speaking, Customer Serve and Entrepreneurship to IT, Finance, Math, and English.

The 3 Class Schedules

They are expected to only speak English on campus, but most of the girls speak French, Kinyarwanda, Swahili and other tribal dialects as well.

Lunch is provided by a local Rwandan woman, who supplies hardboiled eggs, bananas, chapata, and samosa for the girls.

Lining up for Lunch

During lunch, the girls have a nice break to sit outside either on the new picnic tables or on the ground and enjoy the view of Rwanda: The Land of a Thousand Hills.

And like us, they too are tempted by Facebook.

Even in Rwanda


  1. Caroline , I liked the views of the campus and telling about the girls’ schedule..
    those girls are incredibly committed
    OH Web Masteress (female version) you are the best !!! The next time I talk to bill I will tell him you may be job hunting in a couple of years.

    Love you ,

  2. 1. The photos are absolutely amazing!
    2. I will never complain about my classes again! Those hours are crazy, but it is so wonderful to see such dedication to learning and self improvement! Tell those girls that I said, “keep up the fantastic work!”

    Im really glad I came to your blog! I truly am very excited to read through your past posts and I eagerly await a new one! Keep them coming!

    Best luck & wishes~!

      • Whoops, sorry about that Kayleigh! I found Rwanda to be a very safe place! Everyone is so friendly and helpful and I never felt in danger. It’s also absolutely beautiful.

        Yea, so my older sister started the Akilah Institute, which is based in Kigali, Rwanda. They do take interns sometimes and never for programming, so no worries there! I just helped with the website since I had that skill, but typically they like having people who will help out in the classrooms, do marketing, spread the word for recruiting new students, etc. They don’t do any structured internships, so it’s on a “you reach out to them and if they currently need some help” type basis. Definitely check out the website and send them an email if you’re interested in going down!!

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