Dominique Uwase Alonga is the CEO of Imagine We Rwanda, a social enterprise that seeks to improve the reading and creative writing cultures in Rwanda. Dominique is committed to helping people tell stories. Based in Kigali, Imagine We Rwanda empowers young authors in their story writing journeys.
A self described workaholic, in addition to running Imagine We Rwanda Dominique works as a writing consultant, a voice-over narrator for documentaries and a graphic designer. In her spare time, Dominque volunteers in schools and in the community where she talks to young people about issues surrounding self-esteem and confidence.
Dominique tells us how she manages her day and shares her plans for the future.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and I majored in Public Relations, Advertising, and Documentary Making. I was educated at Jain University in Bangalore, India and Presentation Academy in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States.
My first job was translating a documentary from Kinyarwanda to English with American journalists. I was 18 years old. I was also a small time graphic designer.
FIRST BIG CAREER BREAK
My first big career break was winning the Tigo and Reach For Change Digital Changemaker grant of $20,000.
MY TYPICAL WORK DAY
I wake up and literally roll out of bed, I need to fall out of my bed to be fully awake. I take a walk to work while listening to music, drinking tea and planning the day. I get to my office, respond to at least 35 emails. I then start on the daily work tasks which include meetings, supervising the team, more emails, planning small events and projects, evaluating existing projects and events.
After I leave the office I go to church or to other reach out engagements. I talk to young people and encourage them, I give a lot of much needed hugs.
I come back home at around 9.30pm, talk to my mom about the latest gossip in the family, our plans and just joke around. I go to my room and recap. I look at what went wrong and what I can do better. Read a book until I fall asleep. I usually sleep at midnight.
I am busy working on a book called Oh Rwandan Child which will be the most exciting project that Imagine We has ever worked on. The illustrations, design and layout need to be completely excellent.
I love to read books. I also play the guitar and the piano, but my favorite thing to do is collect weird music on my phone and find a quiet place where I can daydream and talk to myself. I daydream about the future. It is my opportunity to be in the shoes of who I would want to be, my dream self.
I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT…
God. I think my biggest source of inspiration is the quiet time I have with Jesus. I find a lot of comfort knowing that he is with me no matter how dark the days are.
I’m inspired by young people who are doing great things in their communities. There is something very nice about young people who are confident about what they do and have a vision for their lives and future.
My biggest achievement is that I have been able to set up an organization that has reached out to more than 4,000 children and young people in my country. The organization has also donated more than 2,000 books to nine schools and one not-for-profit organization.
MY SECRET TALENT
I think I can sing. A couple of people have told me that so far.
The best career advice I received was that your true character will come out when the hard days come, so don’t give up. I think doing what I do comes with a lot of challenges. At the beginning, I wanted to give up and settle for a job where all I had to do is just show up. But, there is something special about birthing an idea and feeding it until it grows.
MY FUTURE GOALS
Looking ahead I’ll be one of the people who pioneered creative writing and reading in my country. I will be the founder of an amazing school that encourages creativity and innovation. I will have fun impacting young people. I will show them they can dream as wild as their imagination can possibly be and reach those dreams. I will be a leader of change in the education sector of my country.
I LOVE WHAT I DO BECAUSE…
I know I was born to do this. I am so wired for what I do. I think about it all the time. I am challenged and inspired by the people I’ve come to meet. I believe that we all can do what we want to do as long as we believe it. It has always been my passion to empower young people to know that they can achieve their wildest dreams.
Interview by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema