When Robeni Mawuwa met Josiah Ngendahimana and Jaqueline Mukagasana in 2021, they had been married for 14 years, but for the last three years, their marriage has been on the brink of total collapse. Ngendahimana and Mukagasana, residents of Kirehe District with five children and a granddaughter, are among the beneficiaries of Shine Rwanda, Mawuwa’s initiative that seeks to curb family conflicts. The cause of their fights was mostly Ngendahimana’s alcoholism, as he would physically assault his children and wife under its influence. This forced Mukagasana to pack her bags and head back to her parents’ home with her children. According to the couple, miscommunication and poverty also contributed to their endless battles, and some of their children had to drop out of school. Mawuwa met the couple and connected them to a counsellor, and formed a group for them with other families where they were trained how to save, communicate amicably and progress together. Today, they rear chicken for sale and their kids are back in school. The couple notes that their communication has improved and they have learned to respect each other. Ngendahimana also quit drinking. Curbing GBV Gender-Based Violence (GBV) consequences are devastating and can have lifelong repercussions on victims. Given its prevalent presence in societies around the world, it should be everyone’s responsibility to curb it and help victims— this can be by spreading awareness, offering counselling, creating opportunities to empower vulnerable people to avert poverty as it incites GBV, and so forth. 25-year-old Mawuwa is playing his part and doing everything in his power to curb GBV. His inspiration was fuelled by his work with Youth Impact Mission Rwanda (YIM) — an initiative that drives youth leadership development and reconciliation with God and fellow man— and Purpose Rwanda, a capacity-building and psycho-social non-profit organisation that focuses on purpose, development, and support among the youth. Through his own NGO, Shine Rwanda, which he officially launched in April last year, Mawuwa hopes to bring the vice down, as his own extended family was affected by it “I noticed some of my own relatives' lives were shattered, and all peace lost. People that once were head-over-heels in love had turned into enemies and wished the worst for each other. This broke me, as I couldn’t imagine how they would raise their children in such a toxic environment,” he says. Having attended meetings, including ‘Umugoroba w’umuryango’, (evening family meetings), a community-based initiative that seeks to promote cooperation, peace, and stability in families, Mawuwa discovered that although different institutions fight GBV, they rarely put emphasis on the grassroots. This, he says, leaves many communities naive about GBV, its face, causes, and prevention, which is why he joined the cause to bridge that gap. Mawuwa says that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi left many families in despair, and so the thought of contributing to the progress of the future through different activities that bring hope and unity was gripping. His organisation approaches problems through various projects; such as family promotion aimed at stimulating peace, unity, harmony, and reconciliation in families with conflict—mostly through meditation, training, and counselling. He explains that this is done through diverse activities and programmes where family mentors and counsellors assist couples in solving family conflicts and seeking solutions to the underlying causes of the problems they encounter. “In family promotions’ projects, we also prep the youth in high school and university for future family leadership,” Mawuwa says. Mawuwa says that sadly, some parents’ conflicts are triggered by their children’s health issues, for instance, disabilities and mental health. In this case, the organisation offers counselling to parents and children with disabilities who are cautioned to handle issues without any violence. Among its health projects, the initiative also provides access to accurate sexual reproductive health information. Mawuwa says poverty provokes conflict among families as scarcity of basic needs incites anger and misunderstanding. So they help vulnerable families create simple products to earn an income, some of these include making liquid soap, among others. “Another way to help families prevent GBV is to teach them about agriculture, where they can plant crops, or rear animals, and sell them to earn a living. We also teach our beneficiaries how to make kitchen gardens and cultivate in a modern way, which increases productivity,” Mawuwa says. Due to misunderstanding and bias, Mawuwa and his team, along with experts in GBV, provide lessons on gender equality mainly to young people. ALSO READ: Ending gender-based violence is achievable Setting up Mawuwa started the initiative three years ago while he was still in high school. Even though he was financially incapable of getting it up and running, his heart was ready to serve. “It took me about a year to organise its structure and activities,” he says. On October 17, 2020, he chose a few people to work with. The team started as ‘Agents of Transformation’, but later changed to Shine Rwanda. However, because the organisation wasn’t making any money, some members quit on him. “I lost teammates at a time I needed them the most,” he recalls. He had four categories of people included in his vision, those that support the dream, act according to the vision, move within the vision, and fight for the vision. “Though I had the vision and the urge to kick-start, money was a hindering factor and at some point, I wanted to throw in the towel, but some people encouraged me not to. Perseverance and hard work kept me going,” he says. Amidst tough times, he was also disheartened by close people that he thought would support him. After registering the organisation, he reached out to some people to ‘volunteer’ but had to pay a small amount of Rwf 18,000 per month to each one. This was for a short time since some of them left for further studies, and others quit, leaving him to continue, solo. “I saved some money from small payments from other groups I am part of to start my own organisation,” he says. Although still new, Mawuwa is thrilled about the positive impact it’s making, for example, economic transformation. Last year, Shine Rwanda was able to create groups among 200 people who have started small businesses and he has connected them to markets. He hopes to use diverse platforms to build awareness mostly using the media and social media platforms to reach a wider audience. He also plans to extend his activities across the country soon. Mawuwa volunteers at Youth Impact Mission Rwanda, where he served as development minister, and district coordinator and currently serves as the national coordinator. He also works with Purpose Rwanda as an agent of transformation in Kirehe District. He has trained and been awarded in conflict management through mediation, business problem-solving, international humanitarian laws, advocacy, public speaking, and so forth.