Profile:Sex education is essential for Rwanda’s youth-Cassien Havugimana

Cassien Havugimana is the Acting Managing Director and Programs Manager of Health Development Initiative (HDI)—the organization at the forefront of the Campaign regarding Condom accessibility in Secondary Schools.  In an exclusive interview with Havugimana, he accredited the campaign as necessary in order to fight HIV/AIDS prevalence and unplanned pregnancies among students.

Cassien Havugimana is the Acting Managing Director and Programs Manager of Health Development Initiative (HDI)—the organization at the forefront of the Campaign regarding Condom accessibility in Secondary Schools.

In an exclusive interview with Havugimana, he accredited the campaign as necessary in order to fight HIV/AIDS prevalence and unplanned pregnancies among students.

“This campaign is based on the strategy we streamlined way back in 2007 were Health Development Initiative (HDI) organized a project concerning sexual health and reproductive education.  It’s from this project that the youth raised issues such as talking about fighting HIV/AIDS with no tangible results,” Havugimana explains.   

He further adds that the ABC campaign (Abstinence, Be Faithful and Condom use) seemed to have loopholes especially, with condom use. School authorities were confiscating condoms from students.

“During the debates carried out in schools, the youth recognized that the most effective method for protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS and other sexual transmitted diseases is by using condoms,” he said.

With HDI’s advocacy and monitoring programme, it is from the different issues raised by the youth that they embarked on the campaign that advocates for condom availability and accessibility in secondary schools.

“We have called other organizations to join us and advocate for this campaign if we are to end HIV/AIDS prevalence and other sexually transmitted diseases,” Havugimana emphasizes.

Although it’s thought that the campaign will be promoting immorality in the youth, he said: “We first encourage abstinence and where it fails, we have to give them condoms. Our programme is basically prevention, abstinence and condom use oriented especially for the young people.”

The 2009 to 2012 Rwandan strategic plan stipulates that HIV/AIDS prevalence should be reduced from 3-1.5 percent. To achieve this target, condom access and availability amongst the youth must be encouraged.

When asked if as a parent he would give condoms to his teenage son or daughter, he said: “Yes I would give them condoms; in fact I would teach them how to properly use a condom. Parents are supposed to be their children’s best friend and be free to talk about all issues affecting them.”

Born in Ruhango District in the Southern province, the 27-year –old Havugimana is the first child of Maurice Mujabere and Odette Mukabaranga and is followed by other six siblings.

He attended Musanze School of Science before joining the National University of Rwanda where he attained a Bachelors Degree in Medicine in the Department of Pharmacy.

“As a child I always wanted to become a politician although I ended up in medicine. However, I partly participated in youth organizations both in secondary and university level. I attained several positions such as representative of Pharmaceutical Students in Africa this gives me more reason to support the youth,” Havugimana expresses.

Havugimana  is passionate about youth advocacy and that is why he formed an Anti-AIDS club at Musanze Science School. The eloquent Havugimana narrates how students labeled him a pervert at University.

“I used to distribute condoms amongst students while at University and in the due course they started badmouthing me and said,  it seems I have sex all the time. I didn’t stop since I wanted to promote safe life,” he discloses.

He said: “Sex education is a key element amongst the youth since it will help them plan their future. When youth are knowledgeable about reproductive health, several sexual challenges will be addressed. In fact sex education should be included in the school curriculum.”

According to Patrick Gafirumba, Finance Manager HDI, Havugimana is hard working and friendly to his colleagues.

“He always wants to accomplish things in time, something that greatly benefits the organization,” Gafirumba discloses.

Dorau20@yahoo.co.uk