Charlotte is a survivor of the genocide and a person of incredible resilience. She is a young woman who is dear to Victoria Trabosh, President of The Itafari Foundation. Charlotte “is like a daughter,” she says.Vicky met her on her first trip to Rwanda in 2005.Like many, Charlotte suffered great losses in the genocide; both her parents, relatives, and many friends. Yet Charlotte has transformed herself before Vicky’s eyes from someone who did not know what she wanted 2 1/2 years ago, to a happily married woman, pregnant with her first child.Now she works in the finance industry and is determined to complete her education.“She represents to me the strength of the young women of this country,” quotes Vicky, “ they overcome their own fears and doubts, personal obstacles, cultural constraints, and past grief that could stop them from succeeding.”


This morning when Charlotte invited us to attend the defense of her dissertation, I assumed she was earning a PhD. I later found out this was for her Bachelors Degree. I’ve had the pleasure of attending two PhD dissertation defense proceedings for friends of mine at the University of Oregon, but never anything like this. To my advantage the entire proceeding was in english. Charlotte’s work is titled: The Impact of Pay as You Earn on Rwandan Employees. (A case study: Bank Commonwealth of Rwanda).

Preparing for the big moment.

Charlotte photo #1. 09-28-07

My best way to describe what happened is through the words of Monty Python: “Nobody Expects…The Spanish Inquisition.”In fairness, the professors were just doing their jobs and all were good people. It was just brutal. Sitting in the back I exchangedmeaningful glances with Charlotte’s friends, while she sat and answered one question after another, never losing her composure, never breaking a sweat.A lesser woman would have withered under the scrutiny and verbal questioning that occurred. The tension rose to a crescendo when we were all asked to leave the room while the professors made their final decisions. In the end, she passed. Congratulations Charlotte!

The moment itself.

The Spanish Inquisition. 09-28-07

Staying composed under pressure.

Charlotte photo #2. 09-28-07

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