BECOMING A QUEEN OF CARPENTRY

My next goal is to open my own workshop

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When Queen was growing up, she dreamt of finding a technical job where she could use her hands to make things. Thanks to her curiosity, determination and hard work in school, the 22-year-old Ni Nyampinga from Karongi district has become one of Rwanda’s leading carpenters. Today, Queen works at Fablab in Kigali making flawless furniture. She shares her story and encourages you to follow your dreams!

During my childhood, I loved tinkering with things. When my parents were building our house, I helped them mix cement. It was this kind of experience that made me want to do technical studies. I finished my O Level studies when I was 16 years old, and I went on to study mathematics, physics, and geography. But a year later, I asked my parents if I could change and instead do Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). I told them it had always been my dream to do something practical and showed them examples of our neighbours who were working passionately in the domain. In the end, it wasn’t too hard to convince them and they accepted.

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While I was searching for a place to study, someone told me about a carpentry school in Rubengera. I was so happy the school was near my home. But at first I was really surprised! Do you know why? I didn’t know there were any carpentry schools in Rwanda! That’s why I urge you to always ask for information about anything you want to know. I went to the school and, after passing the entry exams, was admitted to the section of carpentry and wood technology.

It was exhilarating on my first day at the school. I felt like my dream was finally coming true! They showed us the equipment we would use in our studies, and I saw machines different from those at the vocational centres near my home. It was then that I realised what I had undertaken was so special, and so I loved it even more.

At the school, we used the machines for drawing and cutting wood, and then our hands to put the pieces together to make furniture such as tables and chairs.

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To achieve your dream, you’ve got to have a goal. I always aimed to be among the best in my class, and I ended up being the top performing girl in my district in the national TVET exams! I was so happy, and my excitement only grew when I started getting carpentry jobs that I would do with the machines I was able to rent from my former school.

Though I had finished school, I wanted to know more. As I searched for information, I learned about FabLab Rwanda, where I work today. You too need to look for information. FabLab is a facility in Kigali where everyone can use specialised equipment to gain more knowledge. When I learned about the facility, I decided to come to Kigali, and I have been here for a year and a half now.

I have now settled in to life in Kigali, and the technology at FabLab is helping me to deliver on time. For example, a table that would usually take two days to make, now only takes me five hours. This helps me to accomplish several tasks in a single day. The technology I use is so exceptional; I can even show clients what the final product will look like before I work on it!

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Though I achieved my dream of becoming a carpenter, my journey has not always been smooth. For instance, I often wondered if I would be able to use the high tech equipment at work. Fortunately, I am a good student, and the people I met there helped me to get used to it.

I am truly proud of what I have accomplished, and I am still learning new things everyday. What I have achieved is thanks to my parents, my former school which made it easy for me to pay school fees, as well as everyone who supported me.

My next goal is to open my own workshop with the latest machines and technology. You should also have goals. If you ask for all the information you need to achieve them and work hard, your dreams will undoubtedly come true!

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