Hatungimana Renath’s family is from the impoverished central African country of Burundi, although she herself was not born in her homeland. Constant civil war forced her parents and their eight children to live in a refugee camp in the Congo for twenty-four years. When Renath, the family’s youngest, was seven she and her family relocated to another refugee camp, this time in Tanzania.
Renath reaped some benefit from this relocation as she, alone among the family’s eight children, was able to attend school, even if literally hundreds of children were at times crammed into the same classroom due to a shortage of teachers.
Renath’s circumstances profoundly shaped her priorities and plans for the future. As she relates, she used to look at people, how they were living and the problems that they faced, their extreme poverty, and she realized that a root of these problems was the shortage of educated people capable of addressing these problems. In particular, Renath laments, “People… are dying because of [a] lack of nurses and doctors.” Not if Renath can do something about it. She plans to earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Nursing and then return to Burundi to serve those in need in her native country.
For the past three years, while at NAS, Renath has been determined to achieve this dream. She didn’t speak any English when she began attending NAS. No problem. After all, Renath already spoke four languages; one more wouldn’t pose any difficulties. She has had to work full time to support her family while attending NAS, but still managed to compile a perfect attendance record and a 3.94 grade point average. As one of her teachers at NAS summarizes, “Renath is the sort of student that made me want to be a teacher.”