Incumbent Miss Rwanda 2020 Naomie Nishimwe, is in Nyaruguru district in southern Rwanda where she is expected to spend seven days meeting and interacting with teenagers and single mothers in a drive to fight against teenage pregnancies and depression.
Nishimwe, a non-government organisation MABAWA Swiss and Nyaruguru district have joined forces for the initiative aimed at economically empowering teenage mothers in the Southern Province district while at the same time encouraging young girls to avoid early pregnancy.
Nishimwe kicked off the week-long activities Nyamyumba Village, Murambi Cell, Mata Sector in the district bordering Burundi to the south and Nyungwe Forest National Park where she will be staying for 7 days.
The activities were flagged off on Tuesday in Mata Sector by the Nyaruguru Vice Mayor in Charge of Economic Development, Janvier Gashema, and Nishimwe, who among other things encouraged the girls to regain self-trust and work towards becoming economically independent using the support they will be given.
In an interview with The New Times, Nishimwe said that she will be meeting over 500 girls in the district which registers a high number of teenage pregnancies.
“I am here in Nyaruguru for a week. I’ll be talking to girls dealing with depression in the district because there is a high number of teenagers getting pregnant in the district and also dealing with depression or anxiety or suicidal thoughts and so on,”
“I am working with MABAWA, an NGO promoting socio-economic development in the district, in different areas such as agriculture, education and health, in 11 sectors and we are also partnering with the district leadership to implement this project,” Nishimwe said.
Nishimwe said that she will meet 516 girls, 29 of whom are pregnant, to talk to them about life, the difficulties they face as well as psychological struggles brought about by their predicament, as part of her project to combat depression and promote mental health among the youth.
“We will try to meet all of them and talk to them and give them advice and also at the end of the conversation we will be giving out sanitary pads to the less privileged girls,” Nishimwe said, pointing out that all the activities will be done in observance of COVID-19 measures.
Speaking on behalf of MABAWA Swiss, Léon Gashagaza, said that the NGO partnered with Miss Rwanda 2020 because Nyaruguru district ranks among the districts which register a high number of teenage pregnancies.
“We started this initiative with Miss Rwanda 2020 so that we can create more awareness on sexual and reproductive health rights among the youth in the district because there is a huge challenge of young girls getting pregnant and dropping out of schools,”
“Many girls are giving birth at home which leads to dropping out of school and their lives are permanently affected. This initiative is aimed at creating more awareness on SRHR so that we can prevent these teen pregnancies before they happen while at the same time supporting those who have gone through the experience,” Gashagaza said.
He said that Miss Rwanda 2020, using her platform, has what it takes to talk to the girls and they listen, given the influence she has on young people. The initiative will support small scale income generating projects which will be submitted by single mothers.
The projects to support will be selected in partnership with the district. According to Gashagaza, economically empowering young people protects them from the risk of temptation to engage in sexual activities since they can afford whatever they need.
Using her status, Miss Rwanda 2020 will sensitize the girls on protecting themselves and also comfort those who are struggling with the consequences of early pregnancy.
According to the Nyaruguru district Twitter account, Association MABAWA Swiss has partnered with the district to upgrade health facilities in Mata sector and promote the social economic welfare of the people.
“Nyaruguru district leadership strongly appreciates the commitment of Association Mabawa to upgrade Nyamyumba Health Centre infrastructures (hospitalisation & maternity wards) and Introduction dentistry services and related human resources,” the district said.