Sowing the Seeds for New Youth Perspectives in Rwanda
During a visit to one of IREX partner’s community youth association projects in the semi-rural Kicukiro District of Kigali, our new IREX Y4C Rwanda Program Coordinator Taima Lydia and I met with Annet, the principal of King David High School. King David High school has provided land to a peace building student youth club over the past six months. The club grows and sells vegetables and generates income to support needy students and orphanages outside Kigali. Though students were on holiday, we managed to meet one of the club’s leaders and founders, Alex, who lives nearby the school and looks after the association’s food stock.
Alex Kambanda is 18 years old, and a product of the Never Again Rwanda (NAR) Youth Initiated project. After receiving training, Alex conceived the idea of a self-help project to support fellow needy students and orphans to help them explore their potential and gain self-confidence among their peers.
In their planning and from their personal experience, they had observed that the school bought vegetables from outside supplies. Hence, they decided to implement a vegetable growing project. The idea was sold to the school administration, who responded by providing them with land and seed money to pay labor for bush clearing. The students contributed from their own personal pocket money to buy vegetable seeds. Their first harvest was sold to their school and they used the financial returns to grow more vegetables, beans, and sweet potatoes. The profits from their sales were used to organize a fundraising project for orphanages in the southern part of Rwanda. The fundraising drive involved organizing drama and cultural dance shows at their school and inviting community members and teachers to come to the event. Teachers were particularly targeted to contribute to this event and outside community members were charged an entry fee to attend the show.
Alex explained that one day during the fundraising event, the student’s club received about 200,000 Rwandan franc’s (comparable to almost $335) from teachers alone, and slightly more than 800,000 frw (almost $1340) in total. Part of that money was used to buy a lorry full of scholastic materials, food, medicine, plates and cups, plus clothing for two orphanages in Muhanga district, southern Rwanda.
Another portion of the money was used to purchase the association’s cultural troupe and drama unit uniforms and costumes. The rest was saved and Alex and his group are planning to invest it in poultry, with support from Annet who has promised to buy produce from their farm.
While talking to Alex, he was passionate about changing the Rwandan youth. He wants to encourage them to think critically on issues affecting them and to come up with positive interactions that will improve their living conditions and ultimately, make Rwanda a better place to live.
For further inquiries or additional information, please contact me, Eugene Gatari at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene Gatari is a Program Manager for IREX in Rwanda.