Benjamin Ngarambe, 29, has a graceful facial look that sharply contrasts with his quick way of talking. His eyes are dim behind the glasses as he endeavors to bring out every detail of his past life.
He is the president of Gatsibo Youth Environmental Conservation Cooperative [GYECO] that was started with a social responsibility to provide a solution to unemployed youth.
It all started in 2006 after Ngarambe completed a degree in Social Sciences at Butare University with former schoolmates from the same village.
With his school mates still a celebrative mood, he returned to Kizigo village in Gatsibo District.
But after a while, they realized they were taking longer than expected to get employed.
“After school, youths were redundant and there was a dire need to start something proactive and good for the community,” he said.
Then, a thought hit him. In his unselfish solution-seeking, Ngarambe thought of the unemployed youths of Gatsibo.
“It [the idea] started in Mutara, Gatsibo District in Kizigo sector.
My vision was to engage the youth in an income generating project and also work in line with the government procedures,” he said.
Ngarambe then tagged his idea on the extreme drought issue faced by Gatsibo residents.
His intention was to start an environmentally sensitive organization and through this find a way youths can generate income.
“We registered with the district authorities,” he recounted.
Ngarambe explained that he speedily registered GYECO as a motivational technique to erase their doubts.
“The youth are impatient. When they see that something isn’t quickly moving forward, their doubts go high,” he said.
The quick registration tactic had worked, the youth invested trust in the cooperative with belief that a solution had at last come to their rescue. Later, twenty members joined.
But the motivational Ngarambe was tasked to keep the cooperative’s progress steady in order to sustain the youths’ rising hopes.
Two years down the road, the cooperative can proudly mention of having taken progressive strides that have bonded the youth members and given them a hope for the future.
In a bid to keep the cooperative on its steady course, they had to rub shoulders with big organizations like Rwanda Environment Management Association [REMA].
They have also worked hand in hand with PAFO on environmental project.
“Since we started, we have got a tender to plant 100, 000, seedlings. We worked along side PAFO. REMA promised to give us training,” he said.
Ngarambe explained that this encounter has strengthened the confidence of the youth.
Still in primary, death stripped Ngarambe of his parents.
At the time, they were living in Uganda. After his mother’s death, Ngarambe and his siblings were left in the care of relatives.
“We were lucky that our parents had assets like cows which partly fended for our school dues. Other family friends helped us as well,” he said.
With no parent for a large part of his life, Ngarambe learnt to take on personal advice and rely on his efforts which explain his determination injected in the project.
In another successful drive to conserve the environment and grow the cooperative, a project proposal was compiled and handed in to the district suggesting an alternative energy source for making bricks.
“The district endorsed it and they have given us the brick making machine that is conservative of the environment.”
Ngaranbe disclosed that most members of the cooperative are expected to be employed by the brick making industry.
“After the proposal that we handed in the brick making industry has been built by the district. It will be producing 20, 000 to 24, 000 bricks at once. We expect that 15 of our members will be employed,” he said.
Persistence of two years despite financial constraints, Ngarambe believes that there is A brighter future a head.
But mentions that there target is beyond Gatsibo district.
“As we grow we want to spread to other areas.
We want to be part of the environment across the country,” he said.
Adding that, “In five years as I hope we shall have our own premises. I also hope the youth will have something to base on for their future.”