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Country of the Week: Rwanda
January 12, 2017

Our first featured member of the week, Augustin Rugundana, calls civic engagement one of the most important issues in his community. After building his skills through YALI Network courses such as Community Organizing for Action, Servant Leadership, and Management Strategies for People and Resources, Augustin decided to help others tackle the issue by organizing inter-university events and debate competitions on topics like governance and public service delivery.

Augustin, who lives in Kigali, says the events targeted intellectuals from universities and other higher education institutions in hopes of identifying “quick messengers and potential partners” to “drive social and economic transformation” and “to empower and enhance their capacity and sense of responsibility.” Lectures during the events drew on lessons learned in his YALI Network Online Courses and focused on “leadership, democracy, and youth participation in civic matters and their role in influencing policies that affect our lives.”

Group of young men signing a sheet of paper
Group of young men signing a sheet of paper

“In short,” Augustin says, “you can’t fight for your rights… if you are not informed or responsible.” To pass on these lessons, participants have decided to create leadership clubs “to continuously institutionalize leadership values and good governance… among the emerging generation.”

Our next featured member this week, Diocres Barabwiriza, took a personal approach to sharing what he has learned from the YALI Network Online Courses on Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls, Design-Driven Entrepreneurship, and Fundamentals of Business Expansion. Instead of planning large events, Diocres decided to host two intimate conversations with fellow students in Ngoma on the issues he cares about most.

The first, a discussion with male classmates about the rights of women and girls, focused on issues like consent and gender equality in the workplace. He shared the importance of making financial plans together, as a family, that respect the contributions of both husband and wife to the household income. “I wanted to share,” Diocres says, “… what I learned from the YALI Network Online Courses by discussing, as teenagers, how we can promote and empower women in our country.”

The second conversation, with eight classmates, gave Diocres an opportunity to pass on the lessons he learned in the business and entrepreneurship courses. Many of his classmates are interested in finding jobs in community pharmacies, so Diocres says he “clarified the way we could set up our future by explaining to my colleagues how we could start our pharmacy careers” with the end goal of “having our own pharmacy” in mind.

“From here,” Diocres says, “we discussed the different methods of saving we can use, so that we can prepare to have our own pharmacy.”

Our last featured member from Rwanda, Justin Byiringiro Murengera, says that “as we Rwandan youth struggle to rebuild our country, unity and reconciliation is the master key to achieve our dreams.”

Men in white coats standing in semi-circle and one holding crutches
Men in white coats standing in semi-circle and one holding crutches

Justin, who is from Musanze, was inspired to reach for that goal after attending a U.S. Embassy event. After the Ambassador encouraged students to get involved in the YALI Network, he applied for and was accepted into a training program at the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa in Kenya, where he focused on public management. “By attending the training in Kenya,” he says, he increased his skills “not only in public management, but also in entrepreneurship and knowing myself to achieve my dream.”

Since completing the program, Justin has hosted three #YALILearns events — one to teach local potato farmers about the effects of climate change on food productivity, one to encourage university students to improve their skills by joining the YALI Network, and another using art to educate the public on peace building. “After graduation,” he says, “all the skills that I learned from the YALI Network are helping me to change my community by inspiring them using art, mentoring, workshops and working with other youth to rebuild our post-genocide Rwanda.”

Man standing next to pieces of art
Man standing next to pieces of art