The Akilah Institute for Women is located in the Bugesera district of Rwanda, 35 minutes from the capital of Kigali. During the 1994 genocide , this region was severely targeted by militias; more than 80 percent of the Tutsi population was killed. Today, Bugesera has the highest rate of child-headed households in the country.
In a very short period of time this beautiful country has faced a boom of tourism and the Akilah team has acknowledged the wide potential of country's rapid tourism development especially for women. In the beginning of February the first class of 50 students started their studies at the first vocational training and leadership school for young women in Rwanda.
The Akilah team calls the first year of the school as the "Foundation Year" which program is designed for students who demonstrate exceptional potential, but need another year of English and core courses. During the first year the new students will study courses such as intensive English, introduction to hospitality, health & nutrition, and leadership & ethics. Upon successful completion of the Foundation Year, students will begin the Akilah Diploma in January 2011. This course will offer a 2 year diploma in hospitality studies that will train young women to be leaders and entrepreneurs in the fastest growing sector of the Rwandan economy.
The initiative for this educational programme is very welcome as very often the special requirements of tourism as work are being ignored. The acknowledgement of possibilities and challenges of tourism is essential in order to promote responsible tourism development.At the same time practical skills about hospitality and presentation of one's own culture and traditions are very important as tourism can promote local people's pride of their own culture and communities and also foster intercultural understanding. Most of all this programme brings women new possibilities to participate and to be active actors in their own lives and in their own communities.
Concepts such as sustainability, community planning, innovative building techniques, and intelligent approaches to vocational training have been identified early in the project, and will develop strongly throughout the design process. To promote a sustainable way of living at the Akilah Institute, students will grow much of their own food on campus, rely on alternative methods of energy such as solar power, and utilize the benefits of composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, and grey water re-use.
See bright smiles from the first day of the school...
Text: Emily H?ckert
Images: Akilah Institute