Making the world a greener place: Aubine’s journey to discovering her career path

Isimbi Aubine Esther, Gashora Girls Academy 2017, BA in Global Governance from the school of Economics, University of Rome Tor Vergata

"My time at GGAST taught me soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and stress management. This helped me during my college life abroad and beyond.  Part of who I am today is because of the experiences and life lessons learned from GGAST."

Aubine graduated from the University of Rome Tor Vergata last year and has been busy making the world a greener place.  Her work ethic and dedication to the environment are inspiring. She is just one more example of the impact the Gashora alumnae are having in Rwanda, Africa, and the world. 

Would you please introduce yourself? 

My full name is Isimbi Aubine Esther. I graduated from GGAST in 2017. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, traveling, and helping those in need. 

You graduated from the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy in October of 2021. What was your major and what inspired you in that direction? 

I graduated in October of 2021, receiving my BA in Global Governance from the school of Economics.  In the program’s second year, we choose among three majors: Science & Technology; Political Science, Law & History; and Economics & Philosophy. I took a Natural Disaster and Risk Management course in my first year of college. This class integrated lectures with relevant simulations and discussed crucial global issues that I had ignored, creating a desire to continue with environmental studies.

What is your most proud accomplishment at university?

I have some accomplishments which I often call small wins. They include adapting to the new community, getting used to Italian ways of teaching and evaluating, and speaking and communicating well in Italian. Most of all, I am proud of finishing my university years in three years and with a clear vision of my career path.

" Most of all, I am proud of finishing my university years in three years and with a clear vision of my career path."  Aubine at her college graduation in 2021.

You describe yourself as an environmental enthusiast. Where and how did you discover this passion?

I am an environmental enthusiast not because I am pursuing a career in the environmental field but also because I am passionate about mother nature, our source of life.

My passion began early in that first class, where I was introduced to global issues I ignored and continued to grow through my studies.  Toward the end of university, I conducted a research project on one of the most alarming environmental issues related to waste management in Africa, inspiring my career aspirations.

Can you tell us more about this project?

I focused my thesis on Waste Management and Plastic Issues in Africa, where I analyzed waste management, including mismanaged plastic waste that clogged drains in Ghana and caused floods in 2015. I then explored the practical solutions to plastic waste management applied by some African countries. One of the practical solutions included the ban on plastic bag policy already implemented in Rwanda and Kenya and the adoption of plastic waste recycling plants. Throughout my research, l broadened my knowledge of waste management and the circular economy approach and realized that there’s no statistical data available on waste in most African countries, especially in remote areas, which has inspired my work lately.

For the past six months, I supported the Waste Management Team, at UN-Habitat, in one of their Waste Wise Cities (WWC) programs, which supports local governments in addressing the increasing global municipal waste management crisis by applying the Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT).  The WaCT is an assessment and planning tool that cities apply to evaluate their Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) performance and use the results for sustainable strategy and policy planning. I have assisted WWC member cities in using the tool to collect their data, make more informed policies, and achieve waste management goals related to the 2030 SDGs. While working with UN-Habitat, I also assisted the team in organizing roundtables, assemblies, and workshops, drafting newsletters, engaging with different WWC member cities and affiliates, and managing their database. 

Aubine at UN-Habitat headquarters in Kenya. 

In addition to your work with UN-Habitat described above, you had two other internships simultaneously. Could you tell us about that?

I have been blessed lately! When I graduated last year, I was searching for an internship related to the environment. I applied for opportunities at several organizations in Europe and Africa. Among those that admitted me, I decided to work for three institutions, including the National fund of Environment-FONERWA, where I work physically as an intern in the office of the CEO; Eco-Amet Solutions, where I work virtually as a Research Analyst intern; and UN-Habitat in Kenya where I worked for six months virtually as a waste management intern. I am currently remaining with only two internships, which is much work. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to experience working within a big institution, a small one, as well as online and in an office. I gained time management, communication, organizational, and in-depth work experience within different spaces. 
I am still working with Rwanda Green Fund- FONERWA, a national institution with a core mandate to mobilize, manage, monitor, and facilitate cross-sector access to green and climate finance and provide financial and technical support to catalyze climate-resilient development impacts in Rwanda. I assist the office in running the day-to-day operations providing administrative support, preparing meetings, and engaging with different stakeholders. I am undoubtedly enjoying the adventure. 
Next, I am with Eco Amet Solutions,  an environmental consulting company in Ghana. They are helping to solve and eliminate wastewater treatment challenges and solid waste management problems. Its main aim is to feed sustainable ground-breaking projects with research information and data within the African context. I work virtually as a Research Analyst Intern on two projects. The first project is Africa Eco Research Reports (AFRICER), which researches solid waste management and policy assessment in Africa. The second is called Green Living Chats (GLC), a platform to discuss emerging environmental challenges worldwide and promote environmental-related projects. I have been assisting in developing concept notes for research proposals, researching and analyzing data, helping in organizing the GLC podcasts, and organizing workshops.

What are some of your favorite memories of your time at Gashora?

I have several favorite memories at Gashora, from fun times-like water fights, house competitions, and Advisories where we, as students, shared our life experiences and challenges with our advisors (teachers). It was therapeutic. I also enjoyed my classes at Gashora as they were more interactive. I genuinely miss Gashora.

What skills did you learn at GGAST?

My time at GGAST taught me soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and stress management. This helped me during my college life abroad and beyond. In addition, it equipped me with hard skills that prepared me for college classes. Part of who I am today is because of the experiences and life lessons learned from GGAST.

What are your long -term goals?

In the future, I see myself working in an environmental organization, specifically facilitating viable green projects. I also see myself being financially and mentally stable and, most of all, happy. 

Aubine with her UN-Habitat colleagues on her waste management team. 

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