This summer, Frances Dobbs (STM ’17) spent three weeks at a school in the East African nation of Rwanda, helping set up a new library for its students. What started as a casual conversation about the school with her aunt turned into a journey across the world that Frances will never forget.
At STM, Dobbs is involved heavily in Campus Ministry and community service. “The biggest way that STM has impacted my life has been through the wonderful retreats, my theology classes, and through service,” Dobbs explained. “It is amazing to work with others through service and really feel how connected helping others is to God.”
Dobbs’s journey began in 2013 when her aunt started Amahoro Children’s School in Musanze, Rwanda. With nearly 40 percent of the country living in extreme poverty, most Amahoro students cannot pay tuition, but the school strives to provide education to everyone regardless of income. Immediately Dobbs knew that she wanted to help the school in any way that she could. While she was in middle school, Dobbs began helping the school collect basic supplies for her Girl Scout Silver Award project, and when the time came to think about her Girl Scout Gold Award project in 2015, she wanted to think bigger. Through brainstorming and conversations with her aunt, Dobbs came up with the idea to start a school library, a very rare resource for Rwandan schools.
“Frances’s service exemplifies the type of global thinkers and servant leaders that we want our students to be. We are incredibly proud of Frances and all she has accomplished.”
-STM Principal Nicholas Kelly
“I had heard of the beautiful Rwandan people and culture from my aunt,” Dobbs explained. “Knowing that I would get to finally visit the school made me so excited.” Dobbs started the book collection process at area parishes and at St. Thomas More. St. Thomas More students alone contributed over 400 books to the drive.Dobbs then traveled with eight suitcases filled with over 800 books to Rwanda. “People at the school were incredibly grateful. They never imagined having access to a library full of books,” she explained.
Accomplishing the requirements for her Girl Scout Gold Award wasn’t the best part of Dobbs’ trip. “Yes, I set up a library and received my Gold Award,” she said, “but the true gift was how the experience taught me the greatest lessons in unconditional love, humility, and faith. Despite the many obstacles present in their daily lives, they gleam with God’s joy.”