Girls In Rwanda Want You To Know They are Innovative, Smart and Creative

From 2006 - 2014, Firelight Foundation was part of the Grassroots Girls Initiative, which was a partnership of six funders that believe grassroots organizations are uniquely qualified to deliver solutions for the most underserved girls in the communities where they work. Under this initiative, Firelight supported three community-based organizations in Rwanda and Malawi as they implemented quality girls’ empowerment programs. Our three partners, ADEPE, NASO, and ATT identified and recruited girls from their communities who had been made vulnerable by HIV, AIDS, and poverty, and were ready to start out on a transformative path. The girls were given financial education, a space for support and learning among their peers, and access to capital. The results were exciting. The girls not only increased their profits, some four times over, but they gained remarkable power in various spheres.


As a part of this initiative, nine girls, three in Malawi and six in Rwanda, participated in a digital storytelling project supported by Firelight, and consultant Michaela Leslie-Rule to document the changes this program had on their lives. It also gave them a chance to learn another skill. The girls were taught how to use iPhones to record and edit their personal stories of change. They wrote storyboards, they learned the angles of a good shot, and how to edit their footage to create one coherent, compelling story that’s authentic and powerful. Their stories show their challenges, and the ways they addressed and overcame them with the support of their community.


As we taught the girls about storytelling, we told them that every story needs a strong message. We asked the girls, “What is it that you want the world to know about you? They answered: “We want the world to know we are innovative, creative and smart.”


The girls created six stories:

Agnes tells the story of having Power Over income and assets

Rehema tells the story of the Power to Act with greater influence when provided access to support, services, and capital.

Clarisse talks about the Power to Provide for her family now that she runs a successful business.

Khadija tells us a story of Power Within that shows us the power of a young woman to overcome obstacles and see her dreams of an education become a reality. Now she advocates for all girls to have the same right. Her voice is strong and powerful and you can’t help but leave thinking we’ll be seeing more of her one day.

Power With, Girls Collective Story is a collective video about the girls’ experiences creating change in their community to improve the value of girls in the community and expand their opportunities.

Girls as Change Agents shows us how the girls learned digital storytelling and how they were able to use the stories in their communities.


Firelight partners supported more than 4,000 girls in this three-year initiative. These six stories help to illustrate what many of them go through. They are stories of struggle, triumph, and incredible confidence and success.

Girls are telling us their stories. Let’s listen. Share the videos, share their stories and tell the world that girls in Rwanda are innovative, creative and smart.

Take me to Girls Empowered Stories of Change