A programme of IREX, Youth for Change: Building Peace in Rwandan Communities (Y4C) works to empower Rwandan youth from diverse backgrounds to lead their communities in designing and implementing small grant projects that will bring tangible benefits and provide opportunities for communities to work together. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (USAID/CMM), the programme seeks to mobilise youth leaders as catalysts for change, develop a culture of peace through community projects, and sustain peace building through exposure to successful examples of community partnerships.
The project seeks to change attitudes among Rwandan youth and their communities and promote opportunities for positive interaction among people of different backgrounds that lead to a preference for peaceful solutions to conflict through the following activities:
- 100 youth from diverse backgrounds participate in leadership training and share positive experiences interacting with peers from other backgrounds with their communities;
- youth leaders lead communities in designing and implementing small grant projects to address common problems;
- youth leaders lead communities in designing and implementing small grant projects to address common problems; and
- sustaining peace building through exposure to successful examples of community partnerships.
An example of such support for youth leaders is Raphael Nzabiyumva, who was a boy when his family destroyed a neighbour’s property in 1994. In 2007, when Raphael was less than one year from finishing university studies, the gacaca courts administering traditional justice required his parents to pay reparations for their previous crime. They had to sell a coffee plantation, the family's only source of income, and could no longer afford Raphael's tuition. Raphael became a primary school teacher in his native Rutsiro District. Eventually, he saved enough money to repurchase his parent's land. Raphael, with his neighbours' daughter, Placidie Mukarugema, joined hands to start a youth group called Ibyiringiro (Hope) to mobilise young people to engage in peacebuilding activities that address post-genocide disputes while promoting unity and reconciliation. With training and financial support from Youth For Change, Ibyiringiro has grown in strength as a youth group addressing these concerns, as well as undertaken income generating initiatives.
Another example is 18-year old Alex Kambanda, a member of the Never Again Rwanda (NAR) Youth Initiated project. After receiving training, Alex conceived the idea of a self-help project to support fellow students in need and orphans to help them explore their potential and gain self-confidence among their peers. Their vegetable growing project has helped to purchase school materials, food, medicine, plates and cups, plus clothing for two orphanages in Muhanga district, southern Rwanda. Another portion of the money was used to purchase the association’s cultural troupe and drama unit uniforms and costumes. The rest was saved to be re-invested.
Sixteen years after Rwanda was torn apart by genocide, the country is emerging as a regional leader in development and economic growth but still faces complex problems. Rwanda’s population is overwhelmingly young, with 67% under the age of 26. These young represent the greatest potential for sustainable progress toward peace. Unlike many other conflicts, the tensions in Rwanda exist within its communities. People of various backgrounds live side by side, shop at the same markets, and attend the same schools, creating opportunities for positive interaction and mutual understanding.
Source for this site: Communication Initiative, Democracy & Governance