One writer said that ‘youth are powerful. They represent courage with wisdom and energy with will power to drive change and take leadership.’
It’s a character that has come to define one youth umbrella group, Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing Organisation (RYVCPO), composed of over 250, 000 young and energetic people that seek to drive the national security and development agenda.
“Our country has invested in us through education, taught us good values of patriotism, partnership and set the agenda through which everyone should be involved towards sustainable security and development; that’s what drives us since we started in 2013 with not more than 300 members,” says Jean Bosco Mutangana, one of the pioneers and currently in charge of mobilisation and training in the youth group.
According to a report, human security and community development activities conducted by the youth volunteers since 2013 are valued at over Rwf630 million.
These include construction and rehabilitation of 13308 houses for the disadvantaged families, construction and rehabilitation of 1440km of roads linking communities, construction of 1989 toilets, and planted over 67800 trees as part of the afforestation and environmental conservation programme.
Others include 5321 organic gardens, locally known as akarima k’igikoni, making 115, 000 bricks, and 3200 metres of water trenches; paying medical insurance premium for 284 people and raising awareness against crimes and drug abuse, in particular, as well as donating heifer under the one cow per poor household programme.
Their activities are valued at Rwf630 million.
“We want to drive change among the young generation and be the voice and power of transformation, that’s why we want to increase the membership to at least one million in the next one year; we believe the higher the number the more impact in our human security and development activities,” says Justus Kangwage, the national coordinator of RYVCPO.
In November last year, the youth volunteers started a special communal exercise – Umuganda – which they conduct at least twice every month to supplement the usual nationwide monthly exercise conducted every last Saturday of the month.
“We set this special Saturday aside to support the poor, build them houses, raise awareness in schools and communities against crime, construct and rehabilitate roads, toilets and get involved in environmental conservation activities,” Kangwage explains.
According to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Damas Gatare, the Commissioner for Community Policing in Rwanda National Police, the youth volunteers are instrumental in driving the philosophy of police-public partnership in crime prevention.
The Director General in the Ministry of Local Government in charge of Social Affairs and Community Development, Sheikh Hassan Bahame, said that the activities of the youth volunteers supplement the national budget and community development.