First Lady tips young innovators on right choices

First Lady Jeannette Kagame Friday urged youth to make the right choices and avoid drug abuse adding that making the right decisions was a “principal pillar of Rwanda’s future”.

The First Lady was addressing around 600 youth from across the country who gathered for the “Youth Forum Series,” at Intare Conference Arena in Rusororo.

 

The meeting was organised by Imbuto Foundation of which the First Lady is founder and Chairperson.

 

She remarked that challenges that the youth face, including drug abuse and teen pregnancies, need to be discussed collectively.

 

“Excessive use of drugs and teen pregnancies are both a public health concern and family’ challenge,” she said.

The forum was held in partnership with UNFPA, Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Ministry of Youth and Culture.

Under the theme; “Raising a Healthy Generation,” the forum was among others attended by UN Rwanda Resident Coordinator, Fode Ndiaye, who challenged Rwandan youth to grab opportunities available to them.

“You are lucky to have a caring government. Do not take that for granted. Use and create opportunities,” he said.

The State Minister in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Edouard Bamporiki, in his remarks, also reminded the youth that patience and focus could help them achieve their dreams.

“Trends are temporary. Be patient and focus on your goals, it will eventually pay,” he said.

The forum also saw KOICA Country Director Lee Byung Hwa who emphasized a commitment to strengthen their efforts to partner in tackling drug abuse and teen pregnancies.

Young innovators

Janvier Hitayezu, 25, is a rehabilitated drug addict who started using them at the age of 14. After being rehabilitated at Iwawa Rehabilitation Centre, he went back to school and aspires to be a minister.

He is one of five speakers who shared their experience and aspirations with participants. Conversations held revolved around navigating life in Kigali, surviving drug abuse and building a good relationship in families.

During the forum, the 5th iAccelerator awarding ceremony was held. The top three winners were shortlisted from 10 champions and rewarded.

Cyprien Iradukunda whose team’s project took the top spot, told The New Times that it was just the beginning.

“The award is seed capital. We are set to expand and reach as many people as possible,” he said.

Their TV show, Flavors of Family Planning was chosen the best, followed by Urukundo board game and Keza game phone application. All projects provide information on sexual health and reproductive education.

Seven hundred projects applied for the awards, 40 were chosen and 10 won to be shortlisted to three best projects. Winners were rewarded with USD 10,000 as seed capital to expand their projects.

Launched in 2016, Innovation Accelerator (iAccelerator) is a mentorship-driven acceleration programme, supporting young entrepreneurs with financial assistance and skills to generate innovative solutions in response to sexual and reproductive health challenges.

According to the national police, 70 per cent of crimes committed in Rwanda are related to drug abuse. Over 17, 000 teenage girls were impregnated in 2019.

Both the forum and the awards were seeking sustainable solutions for both challenges.

ailiza@newtimesrwanda.com

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