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Breaking barriers: Dushime Nadia’s journey from refugee to self-empowerment

Dushime Nadia, a Burundian refugee whose life’s trajectory has been anything but ordinary shares her journey from the constraints of refugee status to achieving self-empowerment.

Arriving in Rwanda in 2018, Dushime faced the daunting task of starting anew in unfamiliar terrain. “I moved to Rwanda in 2018, so I just had to start over,” Dushime recalls. This transition was not merely a change of scenery but a complete overhaul of her life and aspirations.

Fresh out of university, she confronted the harsh realities of the job market—where experience reigns supreme, and opportunities are fleeting for those without it. “I would apply for jobs, but they asked me for experiences which I didn’t have,” she shares, echoing the predicament of many young graduates.

Undeterred, Dushime embarked on a journey of self-investment, recognizing the paramount importance of relevancy in today’s job market. One of the pivotal skills she identified was proficiency in English and communication—a duo she admittedly lacked.

It was this realization that led her to a life-changing opportunity: a free English learning program offered by EF, RDB, and Mastercard Foundation. Through this program, Dushimwe found more than just language skills; she found her voice. “I’m now able to communicate with confidence, and I feel job-ready, which wasn’t the case before,” she proudly states.

Her story is more than a personal triumph; it’s a clarion call for the empowerment of women. She firmly believes in the untapped potential within every woman, asserting, “We are capable. All we need is an opportunity to rise and shine above all odds.”

Her perspective on inclusion is profound, viewing it as the creation of opportunities that empower women and simplify their lives. Despite initial apprehensions about digital literacy, the online learning platform’s user-friendliness was a revelation to Nadia. This adaptability enabled her to excel, balancing the rigors of motherhood with the demands of being a high achiever.

Her message to young women around the globe is both simple and powerful: “We have beauty, grace, and strength to do anything possible. All we need is to believe it and grab opportunities that come our way.” Nadia’s life is a beacon of hope and a reminder that barriers are meant to be broken.

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