Nadia Umutoni, a journalist with, Ni Nyampinga Rwanda’s first teen magazine and radio show made by girls and for girls, interviews her mother Beatrice, about how different the life of a girl can be when she has the support of her family and community.
Ni Nyampinga is a media platform set up by the organisation Girl Effect. Girl Effect has a singular approach – that together with girls they can create a new normal for adolescent girls living in poverty. A world in which they can reach their full potential and are not held back by themselves, their families or their communities. Umutoni Nadia is a girl who has self-confidence and self-belief, with a mother (and family) who wants more for her. Ni Nyampinga exists to similarly inspire all girls and their communities across Rwanda. This candid interview demonstrates how wisdom can sometimes flow both ways.
In Rwanda, it isn’t so normal for parents and children to sit down and talk together. Before sitting down to talk to my Mother for the #TalkToMe campaign, I was both happy and nervous - I didn’t know what I should ask, or whether she’d be open, but she was and I’m grateful for that.
When I was growing up, most of the time, my Mother would wake up, go to work, and life would just continue. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. My Mother and I would only really see each other at night when everyone was tired, and we never had the time to sit together and talk.
Talking to my Mother like this, I learned things I never knew before. I’d never asked her about what might make her sad. I was surprised by her answers, and I was surprised to learn about her own relationship with her mother.
I also didn’t know that my mother had wanted a daughter so badly. It made me happy to know that. Now I feel like I have to do everything I can to make her happy, because she really loves me and wanted me so much.
The first time she listened to my show on the radio, she cried and kept saying “oh my god, this is my child”. She told all of our neighbours and anyone she met!
My Mum is always so proud of me. Like, when she’s with her friends, she just can’t leave without telling them about “Oh Nadia’s done this, and Nadia’s done that”.
When I first found out I’d been accepted as a Ni Nyampinga journalist, my mother was so happy. A lot of girls now are more comfortable talking to their parents, and some parents seem more open to having those conversations, and want to support their children.
Parents tend to think about their responsibility to their children in terms of school fees and providing food, not about supporting them in what they want to do and achieve.
But that’s starting to change. At Ni Nyampinga, we cover stories on fathers and mothers who have supported their children. A lot of girls now are more comfortable talking to their parents, and some parents seem more open to having those conversations, and want to support their children.
For girls who don’t have that kind of relationship with their parents, Ni Nampinga can fill a space. For example, we have Ni Nyampinga clubs that bring girls together. So, if one girl has a supportive father and another doesn’t, that girl can give the other advice and support.
A lot of girls now are more comfortable talking to their parents, and some parents seem more open to having those conversations, and want to support their children.
The magazine and radio show can also open up difficult conversations. It can be hard for parents to talk to their daughters about things like sexual health. Girls can get the information they need to make choices from Ni Nyampinga. But also, parents can use the radio show or magazine as an opportunity to sit down with their daughters and talk.
Conversations between parents and daughters can be so important. I liked doing this, and I think we all need to do it more. Having this conversation was so good, I hope my Mum and I keep talking like this.