712 students drawn from various schools in Nyagatare District have completed a four-day youth camp.
The annual youth camp was organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and CHF, an international development and humanitarian aid organisation, under the ‘Higa Ubeho’ project.
According to USAID officials, this year’s camp targeted 16,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in secondary schools across the country. The camp brought together school children aged between 12-18 years.
“The camp supports young people to build skills in resilience, helping them develop self-confidence and gain knowledge and skills to plan for a better future,” said Jane Mutoni, an official from USAID-Rwanda.
She added that 30-day camps will be organised in 20 districts across the country with the aim of empowering OVC’s with skills to create a better future for themselves, their families and the entire community.
Speaking at the closure of the camp, on Sunday, Innocent Sebagira from USAID, told the students to practise the skills acquired in their daily lives.
“This camp is meaningful to you. You should effectively apply the skills you gained here,” he advised.
During the training camp held at SOPEM Rukomo Secondary School in Rukomo sector, participants were given opportunity to share achievements and challenges related to personal goals.
They also discussed issues related to relationships, gaining practical skills in school and future employment.
“I learned how to contribute to the development of my country. I got to know that development begins from the family,” one of the students, Diane Keza, said.
CHF and its USAID/Higa Ubeho program partners African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE0 and Association des Eglises de Pentecotes au Rwanda (ADEPR) joined the Government of Rwanda to celebrate World Savings Day.
World Savings Day is designed to encourage savings by all, particularly among poor households. Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development organized a week of events across the country in honor of World Savings Day, from October 31st (the actual World Savings Day) through November 7th. The series of events aims to promote a culture of savings, in line with Rwanda’s Internal Savings and Mobilization strategy. This year’s theme is “Saving Today for a Better Future.”
Building upon the extensive package of economic strengthening services it provides to vulnerable Rwandan households, CHF and its USAID/Higa Ubeho program partners joined MINECOFIN, Local District Authorities and the private sector to showcase the successes of the Internal Savings and Lending Groups (ISLGs) and conduct outreach to vulnerable communities. CHF assisted ISLG members in emphasizing the importance of savings, and provided critical information and tools on how to foster a culture of savings. During the four hour event, nearly 30 community members opened accounts with a local savings bank, and over 1,200 local residents attended.
Additionally, World Savings Day was also recognized this year by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who pledged $500 million to programs encouraging people worldwide to save. “Saving doesn’t just help people mitigate the risks posed by a medical emergency or a bad crop,” said Ms. Gates in her announcement. “It also gives them the ability to marshal resources to build something better for their children.”
The USAID/Higa Ubeho program aims to increase vulnerable households’ – including people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans and other vulnerable children—access to quality health and social services, improve household response to health and financial obstacles through economic, nutritional and educational support; and strengthen local government and civil society capacity to provide quality health and social services to those in need. The program began providing services in April 2010. Since its inception, USAID/Higa Ubeho has helped over 40,000 families across 20 districts to create over 2,000 Internal Savings and Lending Groups (ISLGs) and entry level economic strengthening activity that helps families build financial safety nets for emergencies and enables them to begin longer-term savings for items such as school fees and entrepreneurial activities.
Holiday Camps Changing Young People’s Lives in Rwanda
In Rwanda, more than 12,000 high school students participated in the 19 holiday camps held during the months of July and August. The goal of these four-day-long camps is to support vulnerable young people in high school by building their skills in resilience and empowering them to develop self-confidence and gain knowledge and abilities to plan for a better future.
“The holiday camp enabled me to realize that I can be a good mentor to my peers and that I am also good when it comes to advocating for others,” says Nduwayezu JMV, a 21-year-old student who attended the camp.
JMV, who is finishing high school this year, has one big goal: pass the final national exams to gain entrance into one of the country’s universities. He says that the camp also taught him to put his goals in writing and set strategies to achieve them.
Josiane Mukamukwiye has also learned to set goals for herself. The 17-year-old high school student says that the camp help her broaden her horizons. “The camp helped me to have another vision for my life. I have confidence that I can do things. I had an idea in my heart to help other people and here I learned that I can also help other people even though I need help too. I also learned I have to contribute to the development of my country. The development of my country begins in my family. I have to work hard and do it with spirit,” she explains.
The 19 holiday camps that took place in Rwanda were part of CHF’s USAID/PEPFAR-funded health program “Higa Ubeho” which means “be determined to live” in the local kinyarwandan language.
CHF's Higa Ubeho Program is building on our past success in providing assistance to orphans in Rwanda by continuing to work with them and other vulnerable populations. To date,
* More than 170,000 people have been reached through HIV/AIDS prevention messages
* Nearly 40,000 orphans and vulnerable children have received health and nutrition education, clinical services, and school supplies and uniforms so that they can continue their education
* Over 26,500 people received palliative care services, including counseling, nutrition, home care and hospital-related support, and
* Over 1,000 child-headed households received vocational training and donations of basic necessities
Globally, 33.2 million people live with HIV or AIDS. In just the past year, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa has claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people, leaving more than 11 million children orphaned by the disease. In Rwanda, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the lingering effects of the 1994 genocide have forced many children to take on the role of their deceased parents, creating a significant number of child-headed households, who typically lack adequate access to education, employment and health resources.
One young Rwandan has experienced this firsthand. Monique lost both of her parents to AIDS. By being the oldest, she had to quit school to care for her younger siblings. Thanks to CHF International (CHF), she was given training to start her own business.
Based in Silver Spring, MD, CHF is an international development and humanitarian assistance organization working to educate and sustain this vulnerable population through an integrated approach to health programming. CHF recognizes that good health improves productivity and contributes to economic growth, therefore, increasing resilience against the societal effects of HIV/AIDS.
In Rwanda, CHF’s USAID/PEPFAR-funded program called Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Program (CHAMP) aims to build the economic capacity of child-headed households through entrepreneurial opportunities. The most vulnerable young adults are selected by community members based on the youths’ lack of housing, food security and funds to send their younger siblings to school. The selected young adults are enrolled in local vocational training centers, which provide a progressive entrepreneurship education. Over a period of nine months, basic business skill development and hands-on entrepreneurial experience is gained.
“I didn’t get the chance to continue my formal studies because of the huge responsibility of taking care of my five siblings,” said 19-year-old Monique, a graduate of the program. “But when the opportunity of studying in a vocational training center appeared, I seized it to enable me [to] get a tangible activity to rely on and generate income to continually support my siblings to a better future.”
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