Joseph Nkurunziza, a 32-year old doctor and entrepreneur, was named among the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP), by Junior Chambers International (JCI),in recognition for his extraordinary work in improving health care access and human rights awareness in the country.
JCI is an international NGO that recognizes young active citizens aged 18 to 40 who are dedicated to creating positive change in their communities
According to the President of JCI-Rwanda, Fabrice Ngoga, Nkurunziza was instrumental in founding the Health Development Initiative (HDI), an advocacy organization working to provide access to proper health care in disadvantaged communities.
He also serves as Executive Chairman and founder of Never Again Rwanda, an organization promoting human rights and advocating for peace amongst youth in the African Great Lakes.
“Through these organizations, Nkurunziza has promoted discussion of the causes and consequences of genocide and conflicts at the national and international level,” Ngoga said.
“Nkurunziza also began the Empowering Young Women Entrepreneurs (EYE) project, which was supported by USAID. He also initiated a project called Youth Engagement in the Democratic Process in Rwanda, which was implemented into 10 Rwandan high schools.”
Nkurunziza said attributed the achievement to the country that created an enabling environment for him to do the work for which he was recognized.
“You do things just to help create a change in your society, which is good enough especially when the change has been realized. It, however, becomes a bigger achievement when other people evaluate and recognize this change you have created,” said Nkurunziza.
He added that this will bolster him not only to do better but also to continue playing a mentorship role to other younger Rwandans to engage in activities the help crating a positive change in people’s lives.
Ngoga said JCI Rwanda had submitted two nominees, but although both of them were shortlisted amongst the 30 finalists, only Nkurunziza made it to the top ten.
The other nine winners come from, Ireland, India, Sweden, Japan, Botswana and two from both Finland and the United Kingdom.
He also noted that Rwanda is currently bidding to host the 2013 JCI-Africa and Middle East Conference, which will bring together over 1,000 young entrepreneurs to discuss challenges that face the youth on the continent and also come up with solutions.
Nkurunziza, together with his fellow winners will receive their awards in a ceremony to be held in Osaka, Japan on November 3.