In grade 4, Gervais was one of only three students from the Batwa community in his school in Muyinga. He was the first person in his family to ever receive an education. But he almost dropped out due to a lack of school fees and school uniform, until GLO partner Harvest Initiatives came to his rescue.
“First they bought me a school uniform. I was so excited to wear it when I started school” Gervais recalled.
From a very young age, Gervais had a dream of finishing high school. Now 18 years old, he sees his dream getting closer day by day..
In grade 10 he successfully passed his national exam. Unfortunately, he was moved to another district to continue his A-level education. This meant that every school day he had to undertake a long walk. “It took me at least two hours to reach school. This meant that I would wake up very early in the morning so that at 5am I could start my journey to school in order to get there by 7:00am.”
The journey was so exhausting he would reach school very tired and sore which caused him to lack concentration. Often he would get to class very late and faced sanctions. He would do the same journey back home from school, which meant he walked for four hours each day in total. Nevertheless, he was never discouraged or felt like giving up and dropping out.
When Harvest Initiatives first started helping the Batwa community in Muyinga, north-eastern Burundi ten years ago, Gervais was still a young boy. Recently Harvest has reconnected with him. When they heard the struggle he was going through to reach school, they gifted him a bicycle, to make his journey to school bearable.
Gervais is so grateful to have received the bike; he no longer has to walk four hours each school day. He’s happy to know that there are people in his life who care about him and his well-being. “I’m thankful to Etienne, Harvest Coordinator, who has always been there for us whenever students like me felt like giving up. He always encourages and pushes us to become better,” said Gervais.
His greatest dream is to give back to his community. Gervais is a very courageous young man who can’t wait to be one of the first in his community to have ever finished high school.