A refugee finds asylum in education
Merci was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Rwandan parents who fled their country during the genocide. Together with her two brothers, her family returned to Rwanda in 1996 and lived there for 13 years until conflict again forced them to flee, this time to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.
Through hard work and determination, Merci was able to complete her secondary school education and earn a certificate in computer science through Jesuit Refugee Service programs at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. She was one of 29 students accepted into the Diploma program of Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) at the camp. This unique program provides education to under-served populations through a combination of distance and onsite learning. Merci committed herself to full-time study while engaging in a number of selfless endeavors: she founded a women’s club to empower women in the camp and promote their access to educational opportunities; in her second year she served as the only female peer academic tutor. She applied to and was accepted by the WUSC SRP program that offers resettlement and an academic scholarship in Canada. In order to give herself a leg up from the competition, she studied and learned French so she could submit her application in both English and French.
Merci was resettled to Canada in September, 2015 with a scholarship at the French-language Laval University in Quebec City. She is currently balancing her new life as a Canadian resident and economics student, with the piece of her life – her family – that remains in Malawi.