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Amos Advocates for Refugees
Since 2017, Sciences Po has been in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. This partnership enables bright and ambitious students from Sub-Saharan Africa to enroll in a degree programme in the social sciences at Sciences Po, with the aim of training a new generation of change-makers in their home countries.
Amos Kwizera is currently enrolled in the Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po's Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA). Before Sciences Po, he studied at the United States International University. He also worked as a refugee youth advocate under COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA), an NGO that solicits scholarships and funds to provide access to quality education for children from impoverished communities especially refugees in Kyangwali refugee settlement camp in Western Uganda where he also lived since he became a refugee. He also received a Mastercard Foundation Impact Award for REJEO-rk, a project that empowers refugee farmers through goat keeping.
Introduce yourself: who are you? Why did you decide to study Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po?
I am Amos Kwizera, Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Sciences Po. My interest in human rights was instigated by my life story. At age four, I became internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the civil war. When there was no sign of the war coming to an end, at age six, I became a refugee with my family in the Kyangwali refugee camp in Uganda. There, I lost my sister to malaria as a result of discrimination. I witnessed my sister being denied emergency help due to her refugee status when malaria capsules were available. We never had any other option but to queue for free medication since we didn’t have the ability to take my sister to a private hospital where she would have been given all necessary treatments. This is one of the many injustices that pushed me to study human rights to advocate for the marginalised people.
Can you describe your first impressions when you arrived at Sciences Po?
I first heard about Sciences Po in 2014 before doing my undergraduate studies. From then, I was set on pursuing a master’s degree not only to receive theoretical and practical knowledge about social sciences but also indispensable development of strategic skills like policy making in international law. Arriving at Sciences Po at the 27 rue Saint-Guillaume and the 1 place Saint-Thomas sites, I felt at home thanks to the warm welcome I received from fellow students and Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program administrators.
You are currently doing an internship at the United Nations, what are your main tasks?
Currently, I am interning at the United Nations head office, in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children (SRSG-VAC). My focus is on the African region. I draft documents including briefing notes of internal and external meetings. I gather data on violence against children for specific countries, entering the data from the Voluntary National Reviews in which countries share their successes, challenges and lessons learned while implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, among others.
Also, I was lucky enough to participate in several high-level meetings gathering diplomats from different countries to discuss solutions towards violence against children like female genital mutilation, early marriage, children affected by climate change, etc.
Which skills are you gaining through this internship and how will they help you in your future career?
This internship has so far equipped me with practical professional skills like organising diplomatic meetings, working in a diverse team, time management... As I advocate for women and youths who are marginalised, like the internally displaced people, refugees, migrants; I hope to partner with international organisations where the skills I am learning at the UN will be paramount.
You will be graduating in less than a year, how do you see your future?
I see myself continuing with the projects I have started (REJEO-rk and Kivu Society Corporation). I hope to impact 1.5 million people directly and indirectly in Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo by December 2024. My main focus is to give women and youths the entrepreneurship skills to fight poverty.
Any advice for those who want to apply to the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program and study at Sciences Po?
It may not be easy to get into the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, but it is a worthwhile challenge. It’s a fully packaged scholarship that covers not only tuition, accommodation, and all other living expenses, but also empowers scholars with transformative leadership and entrepreneurship.
As a member of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, what does the notion of Impact mean to you?
I understand impact as a progressive change in people’s lives due to an implementation of an idea or project that is scalable.