SHE-CAN Scholar’s Take the Lead project provides neighborhood families with colorful homes, dust protection – by Ornella Rwanziza
Back in February 2017, I was offered an opportunity by SHE-CAN to take the lead and impact someone’s life in my own way. I dreamed of painting houses for the families in my community that needed dust protection and would benefit from a colorful house. I’m happy to say, I made that dream a reality.
People in my neighborhood have dusty and unpainted houses on the inside and outside. The dust carries small but dangerous diseases that are especially harmful to young children. I knew that by painting some houses I could help reduce the chances of people in my neighborhood getting sick.
Unpainted houses not only make my neighbors lives less colorful, but it reduces their chances of feeling happy. This is especially problematic for young children and elderly people who make up more than 70% of the people in my neighborhood. Since I believe colors in our lives can heal emotional breakdowns, and I see them as a way to help people feel more comfortable in their own homes, I knew I could make a difference in their lives by painting their houses!
For the first step of my project, I visited 10 families with young children, pregnant women, elderly people or sick family members. Visiting these families, I asked them a couple of questions about their life and how my project would change their lives.
One woman told me that painted houses are for rich people and that she’d never lived in a painted house. I asked her, “Can you imagine yourself waking up in a painted house with the color of your choice?” She answered, “It would be a miracle to me.”
That day I confidently said, “I’m going to give her a miracle to change her life.” I immediately started finding people to help me with my project. I already raised the money I’d need to achieve my goals thanks to the help of my friends and family and by using my personal savings. Also, I knew the colors they wanted in their houses. I looked for one professional painter who helped me buy the needed materials, and my cousin Chris helped us paint the houses.
I can’t say my project was easy but it was so fun, and I felt important as I painted the houses. Seeing the joy and happiness in each families eyes as they looked all around their painted houses made me understand the whole point of this project, which was helping people and seeing someone else’s life change because of you.