A 17-year-old city student has been named Rwanda’s brand ambassador in India by that country’s high commission, for her work among its refugees and genocide survivors over the past one year.
Neysa Sanghavi, a Class XII student of Singapore International School, Dahisar, visited Rwanda twice since September 2016, working with global non-profits and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“We were studying the book ‘Things Fall Apart’ in an English class. It introduced us to the communities of Africa. I was intrigued and wanted to do something. To begin with, I wanted to know more about the region and its people,” she said.
With help from her mother, who had visited Rwanda in her role as a doctor, Neysa sent emails to non-profits she could connect with. “After some research, I made my first trip which lasted seven days.
I tagged along with volunteers from NGOs and met survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. I also visited refugee camps and chronicled my trip,” she said.
She went back in June this year, this time around accompanied by her mother, as she was not an adult.
“The refuge camps were near large swamps and hence malaria was rampant. I did observational research to find out the effectiveness of awareness campaigns. I also realised there were skilled and trained talent which was getting wasted,” she said.
She has since then submitted six projects to the Rwandan government on avenues near the camps, which could employ the refugees.
She has been juggling work with academics, backed by her school. Earlier this month, the country also appreciated her work.
“Neysa has been an outspoken advocate for Rwanda and regularly speaks about its success and the resilience of the survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi at high profile events in India and Rwanda.
Owing to her strong and deep attachment to Rwanda, I am pleased to designate Neysa Sanghavi as the brand ambassador for Rwanda in India,” read a letter by Ernest Rwamucyo, the high commissioner, Rwanda.
Neysa will meet the country’s authorities after her exams to discuss her duties as a brand ambassador.