International Rescue Committee (IRC)

A teacher's courage

Photographer Aubrey Wade met fourth-grade teacher Uwizera Desange when he was documenting the International Rescue Committee’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been engulfed by conflict for more than a decade. The IRC is working in Congo to save lives, revive communities and help ensure that more children can go to school — even during a crisis. We have trained thousands of teachers and enabled almost 500,000 children to access basic education in safe classrooms.

Uwizera, 23, told Aubrey  that she is the only female teacher at the primary school where she works in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province, and that she has been working without a paycheck. She talked to him about how she became an educator and about some of the challenges she faces in her job:
 
"I've been a teacher for four years. There are no other female teachers in my community. It's the expected way in this area: Girls don't go to school and women don't become teachers. All the other teachers are men. 
 
But my parents thought differently and supported me to go to school. But other people in the community used to say: 'What are you doing sending your girl child to school? Why don't you keep her at home?' 
 
When I was 15 my parents decided it would be better if I completed my schooling in another town, and they rented a small house for me where I lived on my own and looked after myself. It was pretty lonely and I had to make all new friends. 
 
The people back home didn't believe I could finish secondary school or get my teacher's diploma so when I came home and they saw that I had done it they began to wonder and think about sending their own girls to school. So now there are more girls in school than before. That makes me really happy. Seeing them grow is a privilege and I'm devoted to working with children. 
 
My husband is also a teacher. He teaches at the secondary school nearby and we have a baby boy together. 
 
If I didn't come to teach there would be an empty classroom. But it's not always easy. I'm troubled by the decline in living conditions. And at break time I miss somebody to talk to. The other teachers support me but the men keep to themselves, especially during break time -- so I can feel like an outsider sometimes."
 

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2 comments

Comments

Exactly what are the

Exactly what are the conditions of the schools? So many websites cover it, but most are out-dated or in different areas. What in everyday life affects the students in D. R. Congo, and where might there be some more information and/or opinions related to this? Hope you can help me out, thanks.

I have to say that this

I have to say that this article really touched me. As a journalism student in HS, I was hoping to use this as an article for the upcoming newspaper, and really hope that things keep changing. Good job, and God bless you. -Hannah

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