March 26, 2024

Sunshine after the storm: Esther’s story from Rwanda

“Life may have thrown some unexpected seeds my way, but with the right environment and support, those seeds can turn into something beautiful.” -Esther, participant in a BRAC youth empowerment club in Rwanda

Image of a several girls sitting in a circle at a BRAC girls empowerment club in Rwanda


Hey there! My name is Esther Umurerwa, and I’m a 20-year-old girl from the beautiful village of Muti, located in the Huye district of Rwanda. 

Life has thrown its twists and turns at me, and I became a mom at the tender age of 19. But let me tell you about the events that unfolded after BRAC walked into my life.

It all started when I met a staff member from BRAC who told me about an incredible project they were launching — AIM, short for Accelerating Impact for Young Women. It sounded like a beacon of hope, a chance for change. So, with a hopeful heart, I spilled the beans, and shared my story. They advised me to join one of BRAC’s youth empowerment clubs where I could learn work and life skills. 

I had continued to see the BRAC staff member at different events around my community, and each time, I would ask, “When is the club starting?” They would chuckle and assure me that it was around the corner. You can imagine my excitement when the time finally came! It was worth the wait.

Before joining the club, I was this ball of anger, always looking at the world through gloomy glasses. Being a young mom brought a storm into my life, and I was ready for some sunshine. The club, I thought, could be my escape, a place to forget the pain and find people to talk to.

During my second session at the club, we dove into a lesson about the “tree of life.” Picture this — a person is like a tree, shedding leaves when the wind is hot or the weather is bad. But you know what? Even when the leaves turn, those fallen leaves become the fertilizer that makes it grow.

Something clicked in me that day. I felt the weight lift, and suddenly, I wasn’t just a tree battered by storms: I was a tree that could turn its leaves into something beautiful. I started feeling free, feeling good about myself, and feeling compassion for everyone around me.

Today, here I am, fully immersed in the girls’ empowerment club. I can’t imagine quitting, because it’s about more than just learning life skills: It’s a place where I’m genuinely having a good time. I have found my spot in a community that understands, supports, and helps me grow— just like that tree of life. 

As my journey continues, I’m like that tree: transforming, changing, and blossoming. Life may have thrown some unexpected seeds my way, but with the right environment and support, even those seeds can turn into something beautiful. So, here’s to growth, to the club, and to my blossoming tree. Cheers!


Esther Umurerwa is a participant at a BRAC youth empowerment club in Rwanda.