Take a break from what you are doing; think about what should be done to have the kind of youth Rwanda desires.
Youth being a backbone of a nation, efforts are towards the best ways to groom them into better people for the future. One of the best ways is keeping them busy. Of course to cut a long story short, there is need to build confidence and a sense of responsibility in them.
Talk about the age bracket which is termed as youth, to be realistic this would differ depending on how long people of different places take to maintain vibrancy in spheres of life.
They also include both females and males with different natural talents and interests, which are important.
Based on Rwanda’s willingness to support the youth and expectations from the youth, a call like that in the wilderness, is directed towards things like: HIV/ AIDS voluntary testing, counselling, basic trainings for the school dropouts and those who are not educated, in the youth centre —oh yes, with more attention to female youth.
Where does the motivation come from? It is a holiday, off from daily duties and meeting a group of women in Nairobi, who like the writer are passionate about how better the youth can be empowered for future responsibilities.
A bit early in the morning, 9:30 am, we visit Youth Health Option Centre (YHOC), fun and a lot to learn are the best words to use to describe the centre. Wow! The centre is crowded by only energetic young men and women, each with responsibility in this place.
YHOC members, boys and girls were wearing welcoming and smiling faces, with manifestation of confidence in what they are doing, as their head introduced them to the ladies.
In wonder of how busy a member might be on average, and how they managed to organize themselves, questions kept coming up. The youth are occupied by several activities: outreaches, clinic services, gymnasium, Binti Africa (female oriented programme), networking, drama theatre, counselling services, among others.
How exciting! It’s the youth who manage the entire activities at the place with the support from the International agencies and government institutions like Kenyata hospital which sends youth nurses to carry out counselling and HIV/AIDS testing.
There were computers in one room where youth were typing, asked whether they came for internet surfing, it was explained that the centre trains school dropouts in 3-4 packages in computer skills. In addition to that, they have a library and registered members of the centre borrow books and read them in their convenient time, while non-members read them from there.
To help females in a special way, under Bwinti Africa, for those who cannot cope up with the other activities due to the standard of education, there are catering lessons, hair braiding/dressing.
“This is to restore hope from being morally and spiritually down,” one of the leaders explains.
Free things are normally abused, to avoid this, to be a member; one pays KSH 500, about Rwf40, 000, which might be quite expensive for some Rwandan youth. But remember, where there is a will there is a way.
One will go for wage earning work to earn that money and become a member as to fully enjoy the fruits of the centre. Actually the benefits are plenty.
From a proverb, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, the above scenario, brings in the reality that the devotion of the youth towards sustainable development, the government and international organizations with responsibilities in line with specific youth activities, more can be done to achieve the overall goal of giving power to the youth.
Leading you to the main youth centre, Centre de Jeune, you will be welcomed by boys enjoying football, karate, girls dancing and others in a few other activities.
And you will realize that most of the facilities are favourable to boys than girls. Though girls can do what boys do, some girls cannot engage in male friendly activities.
Since history has set favourable grounds for the males, how much more should be done to make female youth match the current competitive society? With belief that youths are the foundation of a vibrant society and backbone of the country, Imbuto foundation’s Director General, Radegonde Ndejuru told the writer.
“We hope to change and put other activities that benefit girls so that they can come, more and more. We want to design specific services for the youth, so that they meet age mates in the centre through activities carried out.
But unfortunately, normally girls don’t attend; they are stopped from even reaching those games saying it is where girls meet boys.”
In a realistic and concerned voice, Ndejuru explained that Centre de Jeune needs some changes to suit the times. More initiatives are expected, but the problem still remains that some girls are not allowed to participate, and do not have the confidence to do so.
She proposed that apart from carrying out only youth forums, as has been, Imbuto foundation, an organization empowering Rwandan youth will be holding discussions with parents because it is believed that youths cannot be better enough without the role of their parents.
It is the parents who build their children’s self esteem and make directions for them, which is still a problem in Rwanda.
At YHOC, a line up of committee members of the centre is so interesting, also the youth in medical gowns at the centre are a surprise, I mean youth nurses who come to counsel and carry out HIV/AIDS testing for their fellow youths. For the tests boys are encouraged to come with their girlfriends and the reverse is true for the girls.
Amazingly, reports show overwhelming numbers that turn up for the tests and counselling. In most cases youth prefer dealing with their fellow youth, whereby they can easily have cero tests, than where they will go, thinking they are on a risk of finding their parents or relatives in the same place.
With youth-to-youth HIV/Test, problems related to discomfort in counselling and education of sexual habits among the youth would be a gone case.
Many youth get into fire unknowingly, in fear of where to go for the test before succumbing to the “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. Combined efforts are needed, but it is worth it.