This is the story of Richard Chance NIYONGABO, a motivated, intelligent and bright young man who is determined to finish medical school and become a doctor. Richard is one of the few, hand picked, Rwandan medical students who are given the opporutnity to work with the International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD)...more importantly, to us, he is family! He is the future of healthcare in Rwanda and we are committed to supporting his goals and see him become the face of healthcare in Rwanda today, and well into the future!
We encourage you to read Richard's story below and if you are able and willing to help us help him through a dedicated IOWD education fund, we would be so grateful for your support. To see Richard succeed and become the amazing doctor we know he can be would be amazing, but in his case, we know it will take a village of supporters.
My name is Richard Chance NIYONGABO. I am the 5th child in a family of 8. My dad works in an electricity company here in Rwanda, and my mom, because of chronic sinusitis and asthma it makes her difficult to work many jobs because she did not go to school. My story begins in 2002 when I started my primary school. I was one of the smartest students in my school; I can even say in the whole district. In 2007, I achieved 3rd in the national exam spanning the entire district, which is composed of more than 1000 students. Because of my academic success, the government decided to send me to the science school that was nearby.
Arriving there, I fell in love with sciences and because of my mom’s conditions, I decided that I was going to be a doctor so that I can treat my mom. For me, medical school is personal. I started working hard and in my ordinary level national exam, I was the 5th in the whole district and the government again decided to send me to one of the best school in the whole country, College Saint Andre. College Saint Andre was ranked the 3rd in the country at that time. Arriving at College Saint Andre, I worked hard and was always in the top 10 in my 5th and 6th year, but during the national exam I got sick and I unfortunately did not achieve the results to make me eligible to the medical school in Rwanda. In Rwanda, you much achieve 67/73 and I had 51/73.
This was the beginning of my struggle.
The little Richard that was always the best, became the one that is not eligible to study medicine, but because of the passion I had for becoming a doctor, I sat down and talked to my father and told him that I want to go to the private medical school which was 700,000 RwF. This became 1.5 million RwF in my 3rd year, and 2 million RwF in my 4th year. This was becoming very difficult for my family, because while I was chasing my dreams of becoming a doctor, I had 3 other siblings that were studying in the university chasing their dreams as well. When my school fees tripled, my dad decided to sell his house.
Despite selling his house, he found that the money will not be sufficient so he had to sell some cows and hope that in 2020 I will become the doctor I had always dreamed of becoming. In reaching my 4th year, and after paying 2 million RwF, the school was closed by the government. It was in this moment with the school closing, I was seeing my life, and dream, being destroyed. Not only was I losing so many years of hard work and dedication to medical school, the money that I was left with would not cover my tuition fees, food, and accomodation once I will be going back to school.
Fortunately, I have been granted admission to the University of Rwanda, but the tuituon fees are incredibly high and now we are requested to pay 17000 RwF per credit which is 2,125,000 Rwf in the catch up period that we are supposed to do for the whole year PLUS additional fees for food and accomodation. After this catch up period, we will be requested to pay another 5,000,000 RwF for tuition fees, food, and accomodation for the remaining 2 years. This bears a heartwrenching financial burden on my family for which we are unable to pay.
Right now, I am lost for coming up with ideas on what I am supposed to do because I can not leave medicine. It is not only a faculty, it is not only a profession, but for me….this is my life! This is something that I have been preparing for since 2002. I want to provide a cure for my mom and I can’t do it without being a doctor. Whoever is reading this please help me to reach there, help me to achieve what I dreamt of for the last 12 years. Help me to be who I wanted to be. Help me to put a smile again on people’s faces. Help me to save lives….because this is what I was born for! Finally, I am forever grateful to Barbara and the IOWD team for helping me achieve my dream! Murakoze Barbara!
God bless you!