This generation of young people in Rwanda can dream bigger than their parents could ever imagine.
In the Musanze region in Northern Rwanda tourists come to Kinigi see the gorillas, the home of the ‘Gorillas in the Mist’. On the short drive from our hotel we traveled through villages, where Rwandan people were going about their daily life, used to the stream of tourists in 4x4s.
We arrived at the village to be immediately swamped by kids, from pre-school, primary to high school, mostly boys. Last year a team from our school had visited Kinigi, played with the children and made contact with two local boys Eric and Christian. We arranged to meet with them in the village on this visit and then go for a walk. Many of the children had remembered the ‘Muzungu’ from Australia.
“Most tourist come to see the gorillas and then leave, but you come to see us and stay”
We walked and talked, sat around the circle, we shared what we wanted to do in their country and heard about the dreams that these young people have for their lives. Our message was clear, we know that they can do whatever they want to do; and school, education and learning is an essential key to that.
‘We would like to help you by working with principals, teachers and the government.’
These young people know the value of working hard and getting a good education. The 13-14 were waiting for their Primary 3 exam results, to know what secondary school they could attend in the new school year, and older boys were having the same wait for Senior 6 results, to see if they could study at university or technical college.
We went to Eric’s home and met his parents and then walked up the hill, and up and up the hill to Christian’s home. Both boys lived in the conditions of extreme poverty. The parents greeted us so warmly and we were honored to be in their homes.
The future for their son, Christian, looks very different from their own. Despite his circumstances, he can aspire to complete school, study at university or technical college and get a job. It was likely that his parents left school at primary level and then went to work on the land, or caring for children.
This is a mighty leap in one generation.
Many young people we met during our time in Musanze, like Eric and Christian, articulated big dreams for their future and the President, Paul Kagame, should be commended for setting the desired culture, encouraging innovative thinking and positioning the nation for growth, in order to make a mark like no other nation in Africa.
We are in Rwanda to plan for the conference : Innovate Rwanda 2012 to be held in May. We aim to bring together passionate educators and entrepreneurs from around the world, a collision of ideas. Together with local school, community and government leaders we will present the immediate challenges and workshop solutions that will engage learners and potentially expand the opportunities available for children and young people in the regional areas of developing nations.
To find out more visit: http://www.scil.com.au/Rwanda