Imbuto Foundation has launched a sensitisation drive that has brought together 415 youths from across the country, a campaign that is mainly aimed at advising them on planning a better future.
Imbuto Foundation is an initiative by First Lady Jeannette Kagame which aims at equipping young persons, especially teenagers, with skills and knowledge that will keep them safe through growth and body changes.
The youths, who are gathered at St Andre Secondary School in Nyamirambo, Kigali City were advised to avoid vices like engaging in premature sexual intercourse and drug abuse which will help them live focused lives.
While officiating at the launch of the campaign, the Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, urged participants to put education first while watching out for the HIV/AIDS virus which today poses a great danger to the young.
“You may be bright in school but if you don’t have the discipline to abstain from premarital sex or drugs, you are likely to die soon after acquiring those degrees and certificates. Discipline is the key,” Mutsindashyaka urged.
Speaking to The New Times, the Director General of Imbuto Foundation, Radegonde Ndejuru, said that the programme is aimed at transforming young children under the guardianship of Imbuto into more responsible and understanding people who have control over their bodies.
“We realized that paying school fees (for the vulnerable children) was not enough and our responsibility is to give them the necessary skills in life that will keep them alive. This is something we cannot leave to parents alone,” said Ndejuru.
Participants took time to share experiences and knowledge,e especially regarding sex and drugs, and later separated into working groups of girls and boys to discuss critical issues that face their respective sexes such as body changes.
“The reason young girls engage in premature sex is because they lack proper parental guidance. Some girls fail in decision making and end up allowing sexual advances from the opposite sex” said one of the participants, 17-year old Françoise Mujawimana.
Jean Marie Mudakikwa, who was among the key speakers, explained the risky behaviours and reproductive health. He urged participants to avoid sexual practices such as homosexuality and pornography and urged girls not to give in to society myth which may lead them into sexual activity.
“Sex does not heal pimples nor does it take away the pain during your periods. It does not make you grow or accepted in society. It only makes you pregnant and exposes you to infections, at worst AIDS,” Mudakikwa said.
In 2003, the First Lady, through Imbuto Foundation started an education sponsorship programme which sponsors poor but bright children and young girls through secondary school.
The programme which runs on funds from donors and well wishers, scouts and identifies 100 children annually from across the country who score above the pass mark of 70 percent but lack school fees.
The 3-day activity with a theme of ‘Educate, Engage and Empower’ is the third of the Imbuto Foundation Youth Forum Series 3 Programme of the First Lady, who will officially close it on Wednesday.
She will on the same day reward Guardian Angels ‘Malaika Murinzi’ identified by the youth in recognition of the parental care and guidance accorded to young persons who are not necessarily their children.