Breaking Barriers: SOMA Foundation Rwanda Transforms Lives Through Education

The country of Rwanda experienced a devastating tragedy with the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi people. In the aftermath, tens of thousands of children were orphaned. Not only did these children lose their families, but there were many barriers they had to overcome, including the disruption of their education and opportunities. Joseph Semafara was one of those children. “The profound impact of my journey has been translated into a mission to break down barriers and empower underprivileged individuals and communities through education,” says Semafara. And so SOMA Foundation Rwanda was formed.

“Our mission is to utilize cutting-edge technology as a catalyst for breaking down barriers that hinder underprivileged individuals and communities from accessing the transformative power of education,” says Semafara. “Through innovative and inclusive approaches, we strive to create a world where every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, has the opportunity to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society through fostering a culture of lifelong learning, empowerment, and inclusivity, thereby paving the way for a brighter, more equitable future for all.”

SOMA Foundation Rwanda has three programs currently implemented:

  1. SOMABOX: This revolutionary digital library is designed for rural areas lacking internet access. It provides underprivileged youth with thousands of educational resources, fostering remote learning and empowerment.
  2. SHAPE Project: Through comprehensive scholarships, the SHAPE Project goes beyond financial aid to offer educational, financial, and career support. The organization aims to equip recipients with the skills and guidance for a successful future.
  3. Tech Assistive Project: The initiative focuses on supporting vulnerable and disabled individuals with assistive technology, ensuring inclusive learning environments and empowering participation in education.

Besides continuing these efforts, the non-profit plans to develop the Inclusive Home-Based Literacy project. This project will bring personalized education directly to children with disabilities in their homes. The aim is to bridge gaps in traditional educational settings, fostering inclusive and accessible learning environments for students. “By deploying a team of dedicated educators and specialists, we aim to provide personalized literacy instruction tailored to the specific needs and abilities of each child,” says Semafara. “This initiative acknowledges the importance of individualized learning and seeks to bridge the gap in traditional educational settings, ensuring that no child is left behind.”

With a project this size, the biggest challenge for the organization is sufficient funding. “[This] directly impedes our capacity to extend our reach to more underserved communities,” says Semafara. “The limitations on outreach initiatives, transportation, and community engagement programs curtail our ability to identify and assist those who need our support the most. This hinders the foundation’s goal of inclusivity, preventing us from reaching a broader demographic of vulnerable individuals in rural Rwanda.”

Please click here to support SOMA Foundation, Rwanda.