The First Lady and Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation Jeannette Kagame, yesterday, launched a two and half day’s workshop for the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG) where she urged them to uphold the spirit of resilience as a way to progress.
The forum will involve AERG facilitators and CHUK Mental Health professionals to provide counseling and support to young men with underlying issues.
The event, held at the Avega-agahozo headquarters in Rwamagana district, was marked by survivors reflecting on their life during the genocide and appreciating the support they have been getting from Imbuto Foundation and the government.
The forum brought together 200 young men who are survivors of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, to help them develop a resilient attitude and critical approach towards solving problems in their everyday lives, by providing mentorship and support.
This year, the workshop targeted young male students, aged 22 to 27, from all four provinces and City of Kigali.
Established by the First Lady in 2001, Imbuto Foundation has been implementing a holistic approach to uplift the most vulnerable communities through education, health, and socio-economic programmes.
The First Lady noted that the Youth Forum Series (YFS) was part of the Foundation’s Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Programme , which started in 2007, adding that it had an collection of activities organized on a national scale, to fully engage, educate and empower young people.
In her address to the youth, the First Lady referred to the event as a way of giving support to young male Genocide survivors just like their female counterparts.
She encouraged the youth to develop a flexible attitude and a critical approach towards solving problems in their everyday lives.
“Building the youth was vital after they passed through difficulties…we appreciate as parents and the nation all that you do despite having to nurse the aftermath of the genocide. It is a long journey you started just like your sisters, with objectives to develop in all spheres of life. Experiencing genocide under age of 5 was unfortunate …you have been strong enough indeed,” she said.
“As parents we decided to start up a young males union of those who survived the genocide…our experience with mentors on the girls program, gives us confidence that this program too, will succeed”.
The Leadership and Mentorship Forum for Young Men, under the theme: “Strong and Dignified” was created to help address the challenges some young men face as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, caused in part by their experiences during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Reflecting on this year’s theme, she urged the youth to work hard so as to live an independent life in future and bring up dignity of those affected by the genocide.
“Working hard and gaining skills will make you competitive in the job markets …this initiative remains of paramount importance. You must be strong and shouldn’t shy away from exposing or telling what happened during the genocide. ARG has proved to do it right …you can get solutions to your problems as others can just come to chip in with support”.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Stephen Anthony Rodriques, who spoke on behalf of ONE who UN family, commended Rwanda and Imbuto Foundation for the relentless support given to the youth.
He said it was important that the country continue to invest in the people, noting that the youth formed the foundation of what societies need to develop.
“As One UN family, we commend the work done by Imbuto Foundation under the stewardship of First Lady…we have been working closely with the Foundation to empower the youth-because use we have seen a number of programs helping them to ship the youth in future as leaders of their respective countries”.
“Nurturing the youth potentials will see them grow into future leaders…of course there are challenges but in situations where there are equal abilities matching equal opportunities, the limit will be the sky…that is why we believe in investing in the youth. It’s our mandate as UN to give them such opportunities. They have fundamental human rights to participle in all,” he said.
Rodriques also lamented that the dark and traumatic experience the Rwandan youth passed through, noting however that the ugly past doesn’t determine what they are today.
He said Rwanda was one of the best countries for youths to live in, emphasizing that its one of the few countries that has impressed the world with strong and effective leadership and as one among the fastest improving countries in the world.
“Reflect on your country’s history shapes on what you are and will be in future. What people believe about themselves actually impacts on them, if you believe that you are not good then you will never succeed. There has been violence and divisions, but these don’t define who you are. Let no one set limits on you”.
The event was attended by Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister for Youth and ICT among other government officials.