How Mastercard Foundation Scholars are Giving Back Amid COVID-19

Fourth in the series.

Globally, the lives of hundreds of millions of students were upended as school closures, travel restrictions, and other safety measures were implemented in response to COVID-19.  Over 15,000 Mastercard Foundation Scholars were among those affected. The Foundation quickly acted to meet Scholars mental, physical, and academic needs. With these met, and as Scholars have adjusted to their temporary new normal, they’ve turned their attention outwards to the needs of their peers, families, communities, and countries.

 Making life saving information accessible to all

When the University of Rwanda closed its doors to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mastercard Foundation Scholar Marie Pierre found herself with more time on her hands than usual.  She decided to invest it volunteering-from-home for Uridu, an international NGO that translates and disseminates life-saving medical information into the country’s local languages. Marie Pierre translates responses for questions like, “what do if I find my child has diarrhea,” into Kinyarwandan, that is subsequently proofread and recorded onto a solar powered MP3 player.

Uridu then works with local community leaders to distribute the players to rural families and those living remotely, who benefit from their simple messages that focuses primarily on infant and maternal health matters.

The organization was quick to turn their sights to COVID-19.

Marie Pierre translating life-saving information into Kinyarwandan.

“When the pandemic started, I received an email from (Uridu’s) founders. We were told that we were doing amazing work as volunteers and that now we’re going to translate a string about COVID,” said Marie Pierre. “For COVID, we explain that it can still be spread even if people don’t have signs or symptoms. That people must wash their hands with soap and water and sanitizer. Our project targets rural women and marginalized women so we focus on soap and water.”

Instead of working the usual four hours a week, she is now translating six to seven hours a day.

“I thought first would study, find a job, and then give back when I had money. Now I don’t believe giving back is contingent on money,” she explains. “I can give back in any situation, I can always give. I feel blessed and I can help someone get from a bad life to a good life.  This is period of believing in transformative leadership.”

In this series, we’re sharing just a few stories of current and past Mastercard Foundation Scholars who are giving back amid COVID-19.  Read the other stories.