In 2015, a group of high school students ask themselves a question. What can we do? What can we do to help each other overcome the problems we face every day as a youth? It is then that an idea of a space where the youth could meet to discuss, talk, and share experiences about their daily problems is born. They establish the space as a club in their school.
THE IDEA HAS A NAME
During that same year, Rwanda hosts the African Development Bank’s summit in which the then Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said that The reason why Africa faces problems is that African leaders have not been prepared enough so if we want to solve Africa’s problems we must train the young people to have responsibilities from an early age. Inspired by this and by the summit’s theme of “Africa We Want” that reflects a vision for Africa based on aspirations of African countries and their people, the club is named “Rwanda We Want”, a club which aims to empower the youth as young leaders and help them exploit their full potential to become pillars of sustainable development.
THE JOURNEY STARTS
The club’s activities start becoming regular with activities such as weekly sessions where successful young people from different domains are invited to share their stories and experience with other youth so as to inspire them to follow the path of success. The club also successfully organizes its first conference called “BIRASHOBOKA” which translates to “It is possible” in English. The school activities allow other activities to be postponed so that all the students can attend the conference made up of a panel of some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. A resounding success for Rwanda We Want.
The team graduates from high school and a decision has to be made. We both keep running the club activities and keep the club alive, or we stop and we move on to other life projects. The decision was unanimous; we continue impacting youth lives and building a better tomorrow. Not only are we to continue running the club activities but due to requests from other schools in the country, we decide to expand and create Rwanda We Want clubs in other schools across the country. For Rwanda We Want to expand and operate clubs in many schools within the country, it must be recognized by the law. So the decision is made to start pursuing registration as a Non-Government organization. The process to search for legal documents is underway.
NOBODY TO BELIEVE IN US BUT OURSELVES
The journey proves to be difficult. Few people believe in us and others don’t even understand our vision. They say that we are too young to be doing this. They ask why we want to get into something which seems to be closely related to politics. They ask why we want to be involved in something that doesn’t generate profit and say that we should direct our energy into starting a business instead. They tell us that it is not possible to start an NGO without a lot of money and skills, and we had none of that. Nobody believes in what we are doing except ourselves.
WITH A WILL, COMES A WAY
We are not naïve. We know that we have much to learn and endure for us to succeed. We do not have money or sources of income and yet we decide to start saving for our organization. Walking long distances to save transport money, we find small jobs to generate income to direct in our organization, we approach a few individuals who believe in our cause, we sacrifice a lot. We also decide to try and acquire the skills needed for us to be able to run our organization. Some learn about program designing and management, others learn how to manage finances and processes involved, others learn communication, graphic design, etc. Everyone finds a field in which they can most excel and learn all about it through self-teaching processes on the internet or finding someone experienced to teach them.
Rwanda We Want Organization is a recognized non-government organization registered by the Rwanda Governance Board. The process has been long and difficult but finally, we are registered. It feels nice to have a win even though the certificate is only temporary. To get the permanent certificate we must continue working and wait for a future evaluation which will decide if we deserve a permanent certificate.
From the good management of our limited resources and from the help of people who believe in our cause, we are able to rent an office. It proves to be overwhelming and also kind of intimidating. We are now able to grow so we expand our activities to schools in the Northern province and Eastern province. We grow from only one school to five schools, conducting activities on a daily basis. We are now able to increase our areas of focus and tackle other problems facing youth like Mental health, sexual reproductive health, and inclusion.
WORK HARD; LEARN FROM FAILURE AND WORK HARDER
We start applying for calls for proposals made by different institutions and one call after the other we are not selected. We keep in mind that falling is not the problem, remaining down is. So we fall only to bounce back higher, stronger and try again.
KEEP ON GOING
We continue to organize weekly training sessions in five schools across the country, successfully organize an inclusive education campaign, Organize a fund raising events for a day center for mentally disabled children, mobilize youth to contribute in the construction of the day center, organize conferences, seminars, public speaking competitions, debates in schools and start to collaborate with local authorities to organize events together in Gasabo and Bugesera district to organize Ndi Umunyarwanda conferences on national identity. The work continues.
After applying for numerous calls for proposals without success, one of our submitted projects is selected. We have our first successful project proposal. Success keeps coming as we also sign our first Memorandum of Understanding. One good thing after the other, the Rwanda Governance Board finally decides to award Rwanda We Want Organization a permanent registration certificate.
Rwanda We Want Organization now works in four out of five provinces of the country, designing and implementing projects by the youth for the youth all over the country. With over five thousand beneficiaries in the past five years, we look to the future with passion and enthusiasm.