From Our Scholar Blogs:

SHE-CAN Scholar volunteers in Detroit leading up to Nelson Mandela International Day – by Irene Yayishimiye

On Saturday July 15, I participated in a volunteering activity at The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in Detroit with the other rising sophomore class of The MasterCard Foundation.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a program that provides scholarships to students from Sub-Saharan countries. I got offered a scholarship to attend Michigan State University as part of the MCF program, in addition to having won a spot as a SHE-CAN scholar. Throughout the school year, the MCF scholars do different volunteer activities in the community, and that’s how I got to take part in the volunteering.

The Oakland Avenue Urban Farm was started by a family member of a church in that area to help produce and provide healthy food to the community in that neighborhood. As years went by, the greenhouse has expanded and is now able to provide employment to some of the members of the community. Some of the crops grown at the garden include: berries, cowpeas, lettuce, onions, beans, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, lemons and other vegetables and fruits.  
After taking a tour of the greenhouse, we started completing various volunteer activities. I worked with the cleaning team, and my work consisted of picking up the trash around the selling area since there’s a farmers’ market that takes place every Saturday. With the help of the other scholars we were able to help clean the area, pull out weeds in the garden and water the plants.
Participating in this event, especially with Nelson Mandela International Day approaching on July 18, meant a lot because Nelson Mandela did everything to help his community, and volunteering within my neighborhood helps me be involved in improving the community around me for the better.
After the volunteering activity, I had the chance to visit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History that’s also in Detroit. Being African and living in the U.S. there’s a lot that I didn’t know regarding African-Americans and taking that trip to the museum helped me get a deeper understanding of their history. I also had the chance to visit the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and learned a lot regarding car manufacturing and assembling.
For me this experience was very insightful, especially since I was doing it with other MasterCard scholars. As a person who volunteers often in the community I’ve found that I learn a lot from each and every volunteer activity that I do and also from the commitment of the people that I meet.