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History and Objective


History and Objective

Richard Rwanda-IMPUHWE was founded by Jessica Markowitz when she was eleven years old to support educational opportunities for girls in Rwanda in the rural village of Nyamata. Jessica’s original inspiration stemmed from a Rwandan man named Richard Kananga, a representative from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda. Richard stayed with her family in the United States, and he recounted many sad tales about the horrendous 1994 genocide. With his inspiration, Richard’s Rwanda-IMPUHWE  is reaching out to 50 girls to help them achieve an education by supplying them with what they need in order to attend school.  Richard’s Rwanda IMPUHWE has established student chapters in several middle and high school across the Unites States working together to support Rwandan girls’ education. We provide financial support to low-income girls in the rural area of Nyamata to enable them to complete their primary education and 6 years of secondary school. Through the completion of their education, we hope to enhance their ability to earn income and become leaders in their community. 

Organizational Objectives:

  • Enable girls to finish primary school and attend 6 years of secondary school;
  • Reduce the gender discrimination that prevents girls from completing primary and secondary education.
  • Develop an on-going cross-cultural exchange program between students in Seattle, WA and primary and secondary girls in Rwanda.
  • Support the mentorship provided by girls from Fawe Girls School in the Rwandan capital Kigali, to low income girls in the rural district of Nyamata.
  • Collaborate with local NGOs in Rwanda to maintain the support for girls to complete their secondary education.
  • Students in Seattle will raise funds to support program activities through proposal writing and fund-raising activities.
  • Increase community awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding the Rwandan genocide by organizing speakers, remembrance events and community outreach activities.


  • Raised nearly $250,000 to support girls in Rwanda to finish their primary and secondary education;
  • Awarded a $25,000 matching grant from Paul Allen Foundation
  • Expansion from original chapter at Seattle Girls’ School to six additional high school chapters;
  • Developed a partnership with a local Rwandan girls’ school FAWE (Forum African Women Educationalist Girls School) to establish their own chapter of Richard’s Rwanda IMPUHWE to provide mentoring to low-income girls in the impoverished rural area of Namata; The program has officially been incorporated as part of a community service program for the FAWE School. (See below for more details).
  • World Of Children $15,000 grant awarded 2009
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Our Board

Our Board


Haven Ley
Board Vice Chair

Haven is a Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she makes grants that help to alleviate the multiple constraints that women farmers face in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Previously, Haven worked for the Environmental and Social Assessment group at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) where she supported the implementation of bilateral treaties in Lesotho, Ghana, and Tanzania. Haven holds a MSC in Gender and Economic Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a degree in East Asian Studies from Cornell University.

Jessica Markowitz
Board Member

Jessica is 20 years old and a sophomore at New York University. Jessica founded Richard’s Rwanda-IMPUHWE when she was 11 years old in the 6th grade. Jessica is passionate about creating a more equitable and educated world and has delivered speeches nationwide.

Lori Markowitz, MPA
Board Chair

Lori is the founder and executive director of the Youth Ambassador program. The Youth Ambassador program develops young leaders through compassionate service to the community. She received her master’s degree in public administration with a focus on non-profit management from the University of Washington, Evans School of Public Affairs. Lori has eighteen years of NGO experience including designing and implementing international cross-cultural exchange programs with students from the Middle East and Africa. She has traveled numerous times to the African continent.

Stephen Markowitz, MD PhD
Board Member

Stephen was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and has extensive knowledge of African affairs. Stephen attended medical school at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and completed his residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Stephen is the Medical Director of the Seattle Surgery Center.

Emily Neilson
Board Secretary

Emily has visited Africa several times to learn about the work of different non-profit organizations. She was a teacher in schools in Chicago and New York and has her master’s degree in education from the University of Washington. She is an active community volunteer in Seattle, having served on the boards of several organizations. She is also the parent of two RRI members.

Elizabeth Abu-Haydar
Board Member

Elizabeth Abu-Haydar, a program officer in PATH’s Technology Solutions Global Program, works on maternal and child health projects (neonatal resuscitation, postpartum hemorrhage, preeclampsia test) and HIV/AIDS projects (microbicides applicator, safe injection projects). A major focus of her work is planning, introducing, and evaluating technologies and associated systems for developing-country health delivery programs. Ms. Abu-Haydar conducts research on topics related to maternal and neonatal health technologies, medical devices, immunization-related technologies, and international public health issues. Prior to her work at PATH, she was involved in serving many facets of the Arab-American community in Seattle through her work at the Museum of History and Industry and the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. Ms. Abu-Haydar attended the University of Michigan where she received an MPH in Health Education and Population Planning and Union College in Schenectady where she received a BS in Psychology.





Rwanda “Land of a Thousand Hills” is located in the heart of Africa. Bordering to the north is Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Tanzania to the east and Burundi to the South.

From April – July 1994, Rwandan genocide attempted to wipe out the entire Tutsi population. Over 800,000 people were slaughtered throughout the country. Every single Rwandan was affected one way or another by the genocide. Thousands of children were left without families.

The current president is Paul Kagame, who was in charge of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) that stopped the genocide. The president is a voice of reconciliation throughout the country. The Rwandan people speak very highly of the president. Clearly Mr. Kagame has been an incredible leader and is doing a superb job of healing his country.





Imbuto Foundation

The Imbuto Foundation contributes to national efforts within the fields of health, education and economic empowerment.

The Imbuto Scholarship Program

This program was created as a result of children failing to pursue their secondary education due to lack of funding. The scholarship fund provides for tuition, uniform, transportation and other school requirements for the entire secondary school cycle of six years, which costs US$ 1, 200. The students are enrolled into the program based on pre-determined criteria that includes:

  • vulnerability
  • a high disciplinary record
  • high performance grades
  • enrollment in a public school

Seattle Girls' School

Seattle Girls’ School combats the trend of girls losing confidence before competence, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, with a transformative experience for girls in grades 5-8. At SGS, girls are challenged to discover who they are and who they want to become.