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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Grad students make history in Rwanda

Parfait+Gasana
Parfait Gasana

One of the first ever reading centers founded in Kigali, Rwanda is due to the work of two University of Massachusetts Boston graduate students; Parfait Gasana and Wade Cedar, who launched the Kigali Reading Center in 2013.
Thanks to Kigali Reading Center (KRC), many children in Kigali now have access to books, as well as the opportunity to indulge in a culture of literacy that will empower them to break the cycle of poverty in Rwanda. 
“Reading is the most powerful tool that can change the art of an individual,” Gasana stated. “I know that for a fact because reading has changed the course of my life.”
After emigrating from Rwanda in 2005, Gasana explained that easy access to books here in the United States opened his mind to a whole new world, and helped shape him into the person he is now.
Gasana explained that he did not speak English when he first moved to the United States nine years ago. His acquisition of English, he said, was through a local non-profit in New Haven, CT that provided him tutoring.
He said that this experience with literacy inspired him to create the KRC. “I believe in giving back to my community,” Gasana explained, “I believe every child should be given an opportunity to succeed.” 
Gasana added that he wants children in Rwanda to have the opportunities that he lacked while growing up there.
The Kigali Reading Center encourages English language literacy for children in Kigali by fostering tutoring relationships and increasing access to engaging books, all free of charge. 
“We are the only organization that is doing one-on-one tutoring services,” Gasana said. “This is one of the cornerstones of our program because this allows us to track the progress of our children.”
Both Gasana and Cedar are students at UMass Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, and are pursuing Master’s Degrees in International Relations.
The pair has already collected more than 3,000 books from Craigslist.com, library sales, and yard sales. Second-graders at the Edward Devotion School in Brookline have adopted the Kigali Reading Center as their community service project and have contributed over 400 books to date, wrote Barbara Graceffa in an article published on UMass Boston’s website.
Gasana expressed gratefulness to UMass Boston for providing him with a proper education, and extended his thanks to McCormack Graduate School’s Dean Ira A. Jackson for supporting him in every step, as well to his partner Wade Cedar for their continued collaboration.
“I feel like getting involved with KRC is a way to make a positive contribution to the world,” said Georges Fakhry, one of the Gasana’s classmates, who is supporting KRC.
Gasana invites the UMass Boston community to join in the literacy movement in Rwanda. Although there is only one public library in the entire country, the hard work of UMB graduate students has improved access to literacy materials in Kigali.
People can give books or make donations. “Everything counts,” Gasana added. “We use everything we receive for the center. We make sure that children do not pay a dime for any of the services they receive.”
For more information visit www.kigalireads.org