The distance from New York to Rwanda is around 11,300 kilometers (7,021 miles).
They are close thanks to the shared mission and their joint work to address communities’ pressing needs by empowering current leaders and preparing leaders of tomorrow.
Established in 2008, with its Youth Community Center officially opened in 2011, MC-Rwanda, an affiliate of MCW Global, is a community center in the village of Kayenzi in the Bugesera District. Kayenzi was chosen as the site for MC-Rwanda’s work in the country because of the large number of Survivors of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis who were living there.
Bugesera is also recognized for its opportunities to achieve economic transformation because of the strong potential of the large numbers of youth in the district.
In this piece, Olive Safari, MC-Rwanda’s Country Manager, elaborates on how the organization continuously responds to the needs of youth in skills development and socio-economic transformation needed for a healthier and sustainable life.
She draws your attention to the crucial and tangible impact that MC-Rwanda has in the community and youth in particular, and why it’s crucial that MC-Rwanda continues its valuable work and activities.
MC-Rwanda Helping Youth
MC-Rwanda responded to the local community’s needs to develop relevant skills and capacity for social and economic transformation.
Olive takes us on a journey to see how the organization is doing today — more than a decade from its establishment.
Happy that she contributes to the important work, looking back, Olive recalls the center was built in partnership with MCW’s Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner.
Now, MC-Rwanda has its own programs meeting the unique needs of the community within the parameters of increasing education, health, and economic security.
“We have a vision for communities around the world to achieve greater levels of education, improved health, and increased economic security,” says Olive, by further sharing that MCW Global improves their community by helping young people gain the skills they need to thrive.
Olive elaborates on how this is achieved.
“In keeping with MCW’s mission, the MC-Rwanda Youth Community Centre has contributed to skills development and capacity building to achieve social and economic transformation by offering compelling Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) programs in the areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Tailoring (sewing and knitting), which increases the Youth market readiness capability in Bugesera district,” she adds.
Besides technical skills, they empower graduates with entrepreneurial skills and assist them in starting saving groups and cooperatives that enable them to access financing to create their own businesses.
Building a Better Tomorrow
With MCW Global’s sustainability grant, MC-Rwanda enrolls the most disadvantaged youth.
Certainly, this may be achieved in many forms, but Olive shares with us MCW Global’s formula — which helps youth in the long term.
“MCW Global offers them [young people] scholarships aiming to help break the cycle of poverty by leveraging their strengths and offering them the opportunities to gain new skills and competencies.”
“Among the vulnerable youth are those living with disabilities, who are selected to participate in the vocational training through a partnership with the National Council for People Living with Disabilities and Bugesera district,” Olive explains.
Apart from skills development, MC-Rwanda also has social programs which encourage a culture of belonging and inclusiveness within the community.
“Under the Social Program, we have the Traditional Dance group, Karate group, and a Community Library,” Olive explains, while emphasizing that all these activities create and maintain solidarity and group spirit of youth.
Empowering Genocide Survivors
As we mentioned, Bugesera was chosen as the site for MC-Rwanda’s work in the country because of the high number of Genocide Survivors living in the region. The Rwandan Genocide occurred between 7 April and 15 July, 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War, estimating the total death toll of 1,100,000. In the past, MC-Rwanda was involved in Commemoration of Genocide on an annual basis holding, events at the center during KWIBUKA in the Bugesera district.
MC-Rwanda has a group of youth under the Social Program called “ABATAZIMA” who always assist in preparing and arranging for the commemoration activities in the community.
Let’s see how MC-Rwanda’s presence helps the region outgrow its tragedy.
In 2013, MC-Rwanda partnered with the Aheza project, aiming to offer “Life and Professional Skills to Young Survivors.” This empowered young high school graduate Genocide Survivors by equipping them with the basic soft skills needed to facilitate their integration as professionals, Olive goes on.
“This helps them face daily life challenges through Work Readiness Training (WRT), Income-Generating activities training and Cooperative management and ICT.”
This project targeted 50 high school graduate young Survivors in the Bugesera district (Nyamata and Ntarama sector) who did not access tertiary education due to not being considered for government scholarships.
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A Wonderful Decade-Many More Waiting Ahead
In this part of the article, we spoke to Olive about their successes from the beginning of the center to this day.
We will also see what challenges they faced and how they overcame them thanks to the partnership with MCW Global.
According to Olive, among existing projects, tailoring comes to the top.
“In 2012–2013, we were able to train over 50 students. We provided them with many skills including entrepreneurship and management beyond sewing techniques.” On average, for the past 10 years, MC-Rwanda has had over 50 graduates yearly from this program.
[Here’s a brief text about MC-Rwanda’s “Work Readiness Modules”. Don’t miss it!]
In partnership with Survivors Fund (SURF) Rwanda, 33 of MC-Rwanda’s trainees have started a viable profitable sewing cooperative (Icyizere) making 60,000 RWF (around $60 USD) of profit per month.
Further, Olive lists a few achievements:
- In September 2014, MC-Rwanda was granted accreditation from the Workforce Development Agency to offer technical skills in Tailoring and ICT;
- In February 2018 MC-Rwanda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Council of Persons with Disabilities through the Bugesera district;
- 90% of MC-Rwanda’s students in tailoring and ICT graduate through the training program and some get employed or get into business after getting their government certificates;
- Since 2019, two cooperatives have been formed by MC-Rwanda Alumni-one is registered with the National Cooperatives Agency RCA. Fifteen (15) of MC-Rwanda’s alumni are part of these two cooperatives. It was formed by ICT graduates, a big number being those living with disabilities. In 2020, they received a grant worth $1,000 USD to help them purchase materials needed in their business. They have also received a kind donation of a printer and camera from a local organization;
- In 2020, MC-Rwanda took part in the COVID-19 response program by making barrier masks and distributing them to the community members while working with the Bugesera district office. During the COVID-19 response project, 4,000 barrier masks were distributed, 2,000 posters about preventing the spread of COVID-19 were distributed in the community, 14 traditional hand washing stations were built in local markets and more than 10,000 community members across the district were reached out during education campaign by sharing information related to Covid 19 through broadcasting vehicles in 13 sectors.
In 2021, MC-Rwanda received a donation of books from the Kigali Public Library and Save the Children under their program ‘Reading Ready’. These books were in 5 categories, novels, and children's reading books written in the English language. These books were added to MC-Rwanda’s Community Library under the development of the Literacy project with schools in our community. 300 additional books came from Save the Children under their program ‘Reading Ready’- they were a combination of printed and audio. MCR has had around 150 pupils from primary schools access our community library through this project of Reading Ready free of charge. Parents from the working class and other youth have access to the library during the weekend, encouraging the reading habit of striving for a knowledge-based economy.
Over the last decade, MCR has created a strong alumni network of 500 young leaders in the community of Bugesera who are contributing to the social economic transformation of their own communities.
MC-Rwanda’s Valuable Contribution
All these impressive numbers measure MC-Rwanda’s important impact on youth, students, and lives directly affected in years.
Seeing in more depth, Olive says it’s essential that they continue the work.
To support this, she mentions the gap in attaining Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) schools, and how MC-Rwanda contributes to this issue.
Today, Olive explains that 31% of the students who graduate from the ordinary level join TVET schools.
However, the government targets increasing intake to 60% by 2024, meaning that there is still an enormous gap to attain this goal.
“MC-Rwanda continues to capitalize on the Rwandan Government’s focus on youth economic empowerment by offering the Youth compelling TVET Programs in the areas of ICT and Tailoring and by increasing the Youth market readiness capability in Bugesera,” she says.
“Even with this intervention, youth cannot get jobs directly after training for various reasons. Hence, MC-Rwanda’s helping hand is one of the biggest supporters of youth socio-economic development in the region,” she concludes.
By: Gresë Sermaxhaj
Hearing from Olive, once again, you appreciate how MCW Global greatly impacts communities around the world.
Stay tuned! In our next piece, we will feature the amazing work of MC-Zambia.