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“We are living our passion for empowering the community”
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“We are living our passion for empowering the community”

In the town of Musanze, in Rwanda, David Masengesho, a 25-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent, has been helping young marginalised people to learn new business skills and set up their own agricultural cooperatives.

I have been working with the Digital Opportunity Trust, an international NGO which helps young people and women to access and apply information and communications technologies.

Through its ReachUp! programme, DOT, a Canadian charity, helps offer education, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities to the marginalised.

The programme is delivered by myself and another individual, Hormisdas Ndagijimana. ‘ReachUp!’ beneficiaries in Musanze are marginalised community members – especially youths and women – aged between 16 and 44 years old, who are underemployed and have a low level of education.

The Reach Up! programme provides beneficiaries with tools to help them improve their livelihoods through the application of ICT in business and employment.

To date 46 youths have been trained and graduated, of which 85% were female.  In an effort to empower communities, DOT has a particular focus on gender equality by providing equal opportunities to women and men for equal participation to the development of the country.

Looking at their age characteristics 5.7% were aged below 18, 81.1 % aged between18 and 24, 9.4% aged between 25 and 35 and 3.8% aged between 35 and 44 years old.  A large number of people we have trained so far are secondary school leavers, which means they have an aptitude to learn fast and easily apply their knowledge.

However DOT is also looking to work with people who are less educated, as long as they can read and write.  The participants are not only trained but also coached to make their dreams of having sustainable successful livelihoods a reality.

Here are some of the people we have trained :

Marie Claire Kantarama runs stationary shop in Musanze town.  She graduated from Reach Up! program on July 19, 2011 at BDC Musanze Centre.  A mother of 2 lovely children, Marie Claire stays in Ruhengeri cell of Muhoza Sector of Musanze District, Northern Province.  She obtained a secondary certificate of Primary Education in 1993 then after she had been teaching primary school since 1993 to 2004. After resigning from her teaching work she joined Cooperative de Developpement Agricole, Elevage et Foresterie (COODAF) where she has holding Secretary position for about 8 years now.

Noella Tuyishime, a very confident football player, is a young lady of 22 years old.  Last year Noella completed her secondary school studies of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics Combination.  She, however, wasn’t satisfied with the A2 level of education and she didn’t get government scholarship while she can’t afford the private university fee.  Now Noella is having private revision of lessons for preparation of secondary school national examination as private candidate which she expects to be successful at high rank that will give her the government scholarship to pursue university studies.

Nearly all of the graduates have demonstrated very good initiative.  Three cooperatives have been formed and started operations. These are the URUGERO Cooperative, made of 14 Reach Up! graduates that have identified “Pig Farming” as their sustainable livelihood project; the IMBARAGA Z’URUBYIRUKO cooperative that sells agricultural harvests, which was formed by 10 Reach Up ! graduates; and TWITEZIMBERE Cooperative, made up of 10 members engaged in rabbit rearing and bean harvesting.

Most importantly, nearly all of the graduates have gained self confidence, can apply ICTs which they hadn’t been exposed to before, and now they are inspired to live a better future.  Another group of 70, 44 females and 26 males, are now being trained on essential ICT, business and empowerment.

While we are living our passion for empowering the community, we are learning a lot from our participants, partners and the environment as well.  We are very delighted with the experience acquired from delivering the ReachUp! programme, which has shaped our minds to become young leaders of change in our community.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/


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