Over 500 Rwandans who participated in Stories For Hope tell us they are more hopeful after dialogues with elders. But hope is not an action plan, especially if you are an orphan due to violent loss. To prepare orphans to transition into their adult lives, in a new initiative we are teaching basic business skills to a group of young people about to leave the security of a protected village/orphanage
Orphans in Rwanda inherit a formidable legacy of violence, trauma, and loss. Emotional & physical health includes knowing where you come from--culturally & personally--and benefiting from positive advice from elders. But it ALSO includes having the skills to be financially independent and be able to give back to the community. Orphans, especially, need basic business skills to find a job, start a business, or apply for more education and training.
In our previous and still ongoing initiative, we train counselors how to elicit untold stories & strengths through storytelling dialogues between a young person & chosen elder. Our goal is emotional healing and a firm identity, particularly among the most vulnerable, like female orphans and sons of perpetrators. In our NEWEST initiative, we are training orphans in basic business skills as a way of helping to ensure their survival in early adulthood.
Rwanda is training and educating more and more eager young people. However, jobs are still scarce. Unemployed youth become restless and easily demoralized. It is imperative they know how to self-start and survive. Dialogues with elders also help. The more known about the positive values in your family and culture, the more choices you have about how to follow positively in your ancestors' footsteps. Using radio and print journalism, we broadcast examples of this to millions in rural areas.
This project has provided additional documentation in a Microsoft Word file (projdoc.doc).