Jean de la Croix Muhire, a 19 year old from Ntarama sector, Bugesera district, recently visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai to attend the Zayed Sustainabilty Prize that rewards pioneers of global sustainability. The ceremony occurred on January 13 and recognized pioneering solutions and technologies that can change the world in areas that include healthcare, food security, energy access and water and sanitation.
Jean Muhire gets ready to take his flights to Dubai
Muhire is a principled youth in his final year of secondary school, studying Mathematics and Computer Science. He also teaches Mathematics and Science part-time at Nyirarukobwa, a local primary school, to earn some money. He has been a BBOXX client since 2016, when his grandfather heard about the benefits of solar-powered electricity being offered by BBOXX. Prior to this they lived “in a life of darkness. You cannot do anything at night because of the darkness. You cannot study or develop your business,” he said.
“I used a candle to study and when I didn’t have money to buy one I couldn’t study and failed my tests at school. My school performance was very poor. However, when we got BBOXX my grades improved a lot. We bought a TV that helps to educate us through watching the news and other programs. It also entertains us and helps to relieve stress. We also have a chicken rearing business that is growing. Our lives have improved a lot since we received light from BBOXX,” said Muhire.
Jean Muhire riding a camel in the desert
Muhire was invited to accompany Ghislain Cyubahiro Kambali, Marketing Manager of BBOXX Capital Rwanda, a next generation utility that transforms lives and unlocks human potential through access to energy. BBOXX was one of the finalists competing for the Zayed Future Energy Prize. He learnt of his imminent departure at the end of December when he was advised to get his travel documents ready. Having never travelled outside Rwanda, Muhire was very excited at the prospect and quickly secured his passport and arrived at Kigali International Airport on January 12 for their flight to Dubai. He was amazed at the procedures they had to go through before boarding their flight. They were searched thoroughly to ensure that nothing illegal or threatening to security was taken onboard.
On boarding the plane, Muhire was very curious. “I wanted to see who the driver of the plane was and what he used to fly the plane.” Having discovered that it was not a steering wheel, he proceeded to his seat and placed his carry-on luggage in the overhead luggage compartment and settled into his seat apprehensively. “I was afraid and wondered what would happen if the plane stopped midair,” he said. The flight crew proceeded to give instructions on what to do in the case of an emergency and they were advised to fasten their seat belts.
When the plane took off Muhire was tense and only relaxed after he was sure that it was airborne and they could unfasten their seat belts. He looked out of the window to see whether he could notice anything but only saw clouds beneath them. As they approached Dubai International Airport, he looked out the window and noticed that Dubai was a beautiful and modern city. “The airport is very big and there were many people moving around. They were very clean in their white robes and welcomed us. When we got out of the airport it was very hot,” he said.
They were taken to their hotel where he received a card to use to open his room. “They gave me a card for my room. Here in Rwanda we use a key to open but there they use a card. In some places you walk to a door and it opens by itself without you touching it. There were so many new things, machines to wash clothes and dishes. I learnt to use them and was able to do so in a short time. The food was different and it was on the next day that it became familiar and I was able to enjoy it,” Muhire said.
The following day they met all the members of BBOXX, shared a meal together and attended the Zayed Sustainabilty Prize celebrations and listened as the different winners were announced. “They started calling the different winners from education, health, but I was not paying attention to them I was only focused on who was going to win the energy prize. When they called BBOXX I was very excited and happy. I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to be in Abu Dhabi and Dubai because many do not get such an opportunity. I saw the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” Muhire said.
“The following days we were taken on a tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi including the Dubai Safari Park where we saw a lot of different animals. The thing that struck me most was the buildings and how tall they were. They are very tall, very modern glass buildings, no bricks. The roads are very good and the cars move very fast. However, if you don’t have money life can be very complicated. The jobs are there but you need knowledge and skills. They are technicians and graduates, if you are a technician you can get a job,” he said.
A day before they returned Muhire wished he could stay longer but realized that was not possible. “I have a dream that one day I will return to Abu Dhabi to work. I have been focusing on acquiring computer skills. I will ask people to assist me when I need help to increase my knowledge and skills. When I finish my computer studies I have to discover something that will develop my country. Do you know the person that developed WhatsApp? Do you think he is better than us? My passport expires in 2024, I think I will return to Abu Dhabi in 2023. With hard work nothing is impossible, working hard and feeling confident helps you to achieve your dreams,” he said.
“When I returned home they were happy to see me and wanted to know what I had brought them. I had some gifts for them. Some were surprised to see me because they thought that I would not return. Others wondered whether the Arabs had mistreated me. I assured them that we had been received well and that the people in Abu Dhabi and Dubai were friendly and welcoming,” Muhire said.
Asked about what he had learnt during his stay in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Muhire said that he saw that working hard pays. “They are developed because they work hard. We need to work hard to develop. My generation needs to do what they are supposed to do and stop doing what they are not supposed to do, wasting their time. They should not think that some jobs are beneath them, such as picking manure or other manual labour.
Their parents struggled to get to where they are so the youth too should struggle to get to where they want to be. They should change the way they think and be ready to do any job that pays them and helps them to develop themselves,” he said.
Muhire appreciated the experience of travelling to a developed country and thanked BBOXX for making it happen. He thanked BBOXX CEO, Mansour Hamayun, for having remembered people who suffer from darkness and hopes that BBOXX will be able to light up all the rural areas in Africa and bring light and enlightenment to millions of Africans.