Awakening to Purpose: Inspired by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg


We have the opportunity to meet incredible people from around the world who are seeking out ways to lead change in their communities and lives—people who are discovering and trying to live out their purpose. This past year, we met Lambert Mugabo, a young Rwandan leader who is determined and committed to practicing and sharing the tools of nonviolent communication with his family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and the world. Picking up a book one day transformed his vision of service, and we believe this moment of awakening to purpose will, over time, transform his life.

In his own words…


My name is Lambert Mugabo. I was born in the southern province of Rwanda. I have searched for my passion by volunteering to build houses for homeless families, by working to empower people through teaching them essential skills to improve their lives, and by conducting research on the integration of vulnerable and marginalized communities in different development agendas. In spite of the impact that my activities may have had in one way or another, I was never fully satisfied by them alone. I kept feeling that something was missing. 

Then, in 2002, exploring the bookshelves in the house where I was living with some colleagues for a couple of months, I picked up the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Inspired by the many interesting stories of people across the world who had discovered the secret of giving and receiving in a compassionate way, I began to practice tools of nonviolent communication, which I am now convinced is what had been missing in my service work.

Today, I believe that there is a possibility for each and every one to live in peace and harmony. Genuine love and happiness can dwell in our homes. There is beauty in each person that is found by reaching deep into our inner lives. There is a way and it is simple: we need to change our old habits of relating. We need to learn how to articulate our needs and feelings and how to make genuine requests. We need to learn how to separate our observations from our evaluations. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and commit to care for one another so we can make this world a better place for everyone.

I have since read a lot of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s work. I have embraced the stories of seeking mutual understanding and establishing trust as the basis for reconciliation. I have learned something special about how to find inner peace, see the beauty in others, and establish connections with others. I have developed the skills to connect people’s statements and behaviors to their feelings and needs (myself included). Most importantly, I know how to express my vulnerability and be present to myself and others. 

I just might have found a life of service meant for me. I’m asking myself, how can I support people in learning and applying these skills that mean so much to me? §

There is beauty in each person that is found by reaching deep into our inner lives.

Lambert Mugabo attended the National University of Rwanda and received a bachelor’s degree of Applied Statistics. In 2011, after completing his studies, he obtained ten-month internship with Digital Opportunity Trust Rwanda. In 2012, he went on to participate in the Turikumwe! program, a human rights program for young leaders organized by Global Youth Connect in collaboration with INARA Legal Aid Services, through which he enabled human rights learning, community service, and cross-culture exchange between Rwandans, Americans, and Canadians. Most recently, Lambert was Global Health Corps fellow working on research and distance learning materials for Partners In Health in Rwanda.