Favourite Regina

Associate

Coburwas International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA), UgandaSouriyat Across Borders

Favourite is a Rwandan whose family fled to Uganda in the mid-1990s when Favourite was a child. After completing primary school in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Favourite went on to become one of the first women in Kyangwali to complete six years of secondary school. After completing secondary school, Favourite helped to establish a CIYOTA branch in her community. This opened room for her to work with the organization to mentor boys and girls, many of whom are now on the path to completing their high school education. That leadership led to Favourite receiving a university scholarship award from the MasterCard Foundation to attend United States International University in Nairobi.

For more than a decade, Favourite remained focused on her educational goals despite many challenges facing her as a person living in a protracted refugee situation in Uganda: the loss of her father when she was a teenager; the persistent pressure placed on her to get married; the rigors of studying for and passing national exams while sick with malaria and when lacking adequate lighting; and the complexities inherent in her commitment to honor her responsibilities to family and community while also stepping toward opportunities presented to her as a global student and citizen.

Today, as one of a handful of women from Kyangwali who have achieved a university degree and traveled abroad, Favourite has returned to the Settlement to mentor and inspire young women and boys as they create and sustain their educational goals. Favourite is currently leading the CIYOTA alumni program to engage students at University to give back to their community. She regularly hosts gatherings for the youth in Kyangwali, advising them on traditional and vocational pathways to education. She meets with parents to counsel them on the long-term benefits of educating both girls and boys. She maintains a regular presence at the primary and secondary schools in Kyangwali as well as at regular community gatherings in order to bring information to young women about various pathways to self-sufficiency. Recently, a woman Favourite mentored for the past two years has successfully graduated college and obtained a job as a teacher.
In all situations, Favourite shares her personal story of resiliency and courage, as well as the learning she has gained as a woman who traveled outside of her adopted country. Recently, while in the U.S. to support the release of the documentary film, Sauti (Voice), Favourite attended numerous screenings and spoke afterwards with adults and high school students about her life story and her commitment to give back to youth and families living in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. Audience members were truly inspired and eager to talk with Favourite and learn more about her experiences and vision.

As a Women Have Wings award recipient, Favourite envisions continuing the community work she has been doing, developing programs which bring innovative techniques to secondary school education, and creating data-based measurements for the impact of secondary education on the lives of young students and their families.