From Rwanda to Babson
By taking College courses, Sister Augusta Mukarugomoka hopes to better help her order and, in turn, her country.
By John Crawford
Sister Augusta Mukarugomoka
To study at Babson, Sister Augusta Mukarugomoka was willing to travel halfway around the world.
Dennis Hanno first met Mukarugomoka when he brought some College students to Rwanda in March. The Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center was helping Mukarugomoka with a couple of projects, and she lamented to Hanno that she didn’t have all the business skills necessary to do her job. As CFO of her order, the Benebikira Sisters, Mukarugomoka has considerable responsibility. By running schools, health centers, orphanages, and guesthouses, the sisters provide much-needed support to a country still recovering from the horrors of the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people were murdered.
Hearing Mukarugomoka’s story, the Undergraduate School dean made her an offer: If you can make your way to Babson, you can sit in on courses for free.
Some 7,000 miles may separate Rwanda from Babson, but several months after Hanno and Mukarugomoka spoke, he got a call. “Hello, Dennis, it’s Sister Augusta. I’m here in Boston.” Mukarugomoka proceeded to take two courses at Babson this summer, a marketing class with Norman Govoni and an organizational behavior class with Catherine Manning. “I had good teachers,” says Mukarugomoka. “They helped me so much.”
Hanno commends Mukarugomoka’s desire for learning. Her efforts show just how valuable a Babson education is and the lengths to which someone will go to receive it. “She is someone with a community mindset,” Hanno says. “Through her knowledge, she wants to help her order do bigger things.”
Mukarugomoka now brings that knowledge back to a country that has seen dark days. For Mukarugomoka, memories of the genocide, when her family members were killed and she and the courageous Benebikira Sisters risked their lives by refusing the militia’s order to separate into ethnic groups, are difficult to discuss. But she thinks that Rwanda has come a long way since those horrific events. “I think Rwanda is doing well,” she says. “It’s very peaceful. It’s so different than before the genocide.”
Mukarugomoka still is working on the two projects that the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center helped her with. One involves refinancing the loan on a dormitory built by the order so the sisters will have the funds to repair the building’s faulty septic system. The dorm, used by women university students, can’t be filled to capacity until the system is fixed.
The other project is the launching of a bakery, which would hire young people who can’t afford to attend college. The hope is that the workers eventually would earn enough to pay for school.
Mukarugomoka is amazed at all the help that Babson has given her. “I never knew of Babson,” she says. “It’s like a miracle.” She also praises the two young men, Benjamin Cox ’10 and Christopher Smith ’09, M’10, who staff the entrepreneurship center. “They are making a difference for Rwanda,” she says.