Mujeres fuertes

Dativa Mutegarugori adopted Keza when she was only 4 years old. Dativa wanted to make sure that Keza had access to education and Keza's mother couldn't provide that. Dativa has become an outspoken advocate of all children in her community attending school--something that was denied her when she was growing up. Summary: The Kinyarwanda word, Dativa, means one who wears a traditional crown. The name fits 49-year-old Dativa Mutegarugori, who bears herself like royalty. But that regal countenance hides the many sorrows life has tossed her way. As a girl, Dativa desired to serve others, dreaming of becoming a doctor or a community leader. But family and societal issues thwarted her advancement. Even as a girl, Davita knew to achieve her dreams she needed an education. But her mother suffered from mental illness and it fell to Dativa to care for her entire family: eight siblings and her mother. With such responsibility at home, Dativa couldn’t concentrate when she could attend school. By third grade, she still couldn’t read. Disheartened, she left school then never to return. “I felt very sad because I would see others getting opportunities because of their studies,” Dativa says. She spent 20 years caring for her mother until the Rwandan genocide in 1994 took her mother’s life along with more than a million others. Two years later, Dativa married, but after a lengthy illness, her husband died, leaving her to raise their children alone. She farmed and did odd jobs so they would have the education she’d been denied. Dativa scraped together enough money to send one of her children through secondary school and another currently attends ninth grade. And she’s not finished. She wants her oldest child to go to university, and she’s trying to save money for that expense. Dativa missed out on job opportunities in her community where she thinks she might be asked to read. “I stigmatize myself,” she says. “Nervousness must come because when you


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