Damien Mouzoun, the founder of Ayina Think Tank company, is a professional counselor who specialises in family and youth counseling. He talked to Sunday Magazine’s Joan Mbabazi about the rise of the profession in Rwanda and why counseling is important.
Why did you choose or specialise in family and youth counseling?
Family is the source of many of our greatest joys, happiness and fulfillment that is why it is said that no success in society can ever compensate failure at home. In many countries around the world, the advisory groups for business, government and organizations are readily available but few are family centered.
At Ayina Think Tank, we start with the young generation that can be positively influenced and molded from the bottom up to become effective in their character and personality ethics.
What is Ayina Think Tank Company about?
It is a company that believes in coming together and finding solutions to our problems like lack of skills, poverty, insecurity, ignorance and many more. We deliver training and consultancy services to individuals, groups of people, companies and NGOs. We believe that once one is equipped with knowledge, no one can ever take it away from them but rather use it into something productive like starting up a business.
We make sure that youths are exposed to different aspects of life because that is how they can dream big. This company operates in Mauritius, Ghana and Rwanda (at Tabs Plaza Remera)
What does it mean to be a counselor?
Being a counselor needs personal commitment, we have to love what we do and do exactly what we preach. We give guidance to people on the Do’s and Don’ts of life, if people are not guided on doing the right thing; they will grow but cannot sustain it. Everyone needs a mentor to direct them on how to save, solve problems, get rich, make friends, stop some vices, and interact with others, among others. We all need to join the movement.
Tell us about some of the challenges you face as a counselor and how do you overcome them?
Many people think they know it all and for that matter don’t see any reason as to why they should be counseled. When someone gets convinced that they know it all, they can never learn. It is our duty as counselors to convince people that there is much more they have to learn, that is why even us do continuous research to give people relevant information, learning does not stop.
In Africa, people find it hard to pay for knowledge yet our conferences are paid for hence many people lose out on the most important information from a number of counselors which could have changed their lives.
However, we keep encouraging people that knowledge is more important than money because money can get done but once they have wisdom, they can do what it takes to make more money.
How is the counseling profession in Rwanda like?
The counseling industry is in its infancy in Rwanda and Africa in general, especially in relation to family and parenting.
Many people still think that going for counseling is a shame or some kind of personal failure which is not true. Everybody can learn and must invest in their human capital improvement which is the true essence of righteous living.
Which kind of issues do you address in families and among the youths?
Our educational model stresses curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and interpersonal dialogue, and strives to reinforce coping skills of family, teenagers and youth with the aim to reinforce their ability to handle life in a constantly changing world.
The learning process is carried out on three levels: the individual level (which includes the participant and the mentor), the group level (same-age peers), and the surrounding level (parents, community, rural and urban setting).
How often do you counsel families and how much do you charge them?
We welcome families from different corners of the world during their holidays and work with them out of their habitual environment. Even though we do have some specific offer and promotion that are temporally priced on the website (www.ayinathinktank.rw ), the financial implication of a family is generally defined by the level of the counseling and may demand a minimum contribution of $ 20 per hour and above.