Dieudonné Gakire, a writer, social entrepreneur and public speaker, grew up in the remote village of Mwendo in Ruhango District, Southern Province.
He recalls growing up in a community that lacked basics such as electricity and a limited access to clean drinking water and good education. His inspiration was limited too for the only inspiring people he saw around, as he says, were primary teachers, Catholic priests, and nurses.
But when he moved to Kigali in 2008 at the age of 15, Gakire says his life changed for the better. He had access to better education and his scope of dreams was expanded.
Gakire (centre) with some of the children at Dreaming Child Center.
“I started seeing artists, doctors and engineers among others. At the age of 16, I first became acquainted with computers and the internet and you can’t imagine how this changed my life. I started dreaming big but this also reminded me about the limited opportunities my brothers and sisters had back in the village,” he says.
With his childhood memories, coupled with his experience as a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gakire vowed to initiate something that could help his country keep moving forward.
This is when the seed of serving and building his community was planted in him.
Youth Voice Festival at Lycee de Rusatira, Huye.
And when he got a scholarship to pursue his university studies in the Netherlands, Gakire believed that dreams do come true and vowed to do the same for his under privileged peers in his village.
As he advanced further, Gakire never forgot his brothers and sisters back home whom he says had no ICT basic skills, lacked enough books to read and lacked access to certain basic needs.
“I wanted them to have a space where they can meet and think about their future while preparing and getting ready to be part of the country’s progress and achieve its vision,” he says.
And so, late last year he started Global Radiant Youth- a non-government organisation based in Ruhango that aims at establishing ICT and education in rural areas and to promote critical thinking among the youth.
Participants during a previous Youth Voice Festival.
Beneficiaries have access to different programmes such as ‘A Dreaming Child Centre’- a centre which comprises of a nursery school, a library and a computer lab. With it, children and local communities are provided with space and resources to access quality education and are allowed to explore the world around them and beyond.
Gakire also mentions the ‘Social Youth Exchange’ programme whose purpose is to cement a mutual bond between the youth in Rwanda and beyond. Through study visits and cultural exchange initiatives, the programme promotes peace, innovation, dialogue, language and culture, as well as active citizenship.
There is also the ‘Youth Voice Festival,’ a programme that seeks to engross secondary school learners through plays, poetry, song composition, and debates as a means to enhance their talents and amplify their voices as they explore solutions to challenges in their societies.
The 27-year-old hopes to do more but in the meantime he prides in the fact that children in his village have books to read and have access to education.
Gakire hopes to expand his activities, establish a secondary school and also plan on investing in renewable energy for his community.
The main part of Global Radiant Youth will be A Dreaming Child and an innovation centre in Mwendo, he says.
Students participate in Social Youth Exchange programme. Courtesy photos
“Alongside ONE WORLD Citizens, an NGO from the Netherlands and students from the Eindhoven University of Technology, I am now working on introducing renewable energy and establishing a high school in Mwendo so that over 1000 students can have access to computers and ICT skills,” Gakire reveals.
He also says he is working with students from University of Applied Science Fontys in Eindhoven on a fundraising app which will be used to raise money to establish renewable energy for the centre and the people around in the community.
“I also believe that Government institutions in Rwanda will be helpful in terms of achieving this main goal for the centre for they have been supporting these kinds of projects. And I also appreciate their support so far, as I have witnessed their help through my previous project. This is my way of giving back to the community,” he adds.Follow https://twitter.com/DonahMbabazi