Born twenty six years ago, Egide Niyonshuti lost his father at a tender age of three. He was raised by his mother and it has been a tough journey growing up.
“My father died when I was 3 years. My mother did not have an income I was left with nothing,” he told KT Press, adding that his father was a victim of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Niyonshuti narrated that he always felt the need of having a father or brother to count on… “but I was never lucky to have any. My mother was all I had and life continued that way,” he said.
Pushed to the edge by challenges in life, Niyonshuti joined Genocide survivor students association (AERG) created in 1996, dedicated to provide financial help, moral support and ensuring that survivor students overcome the challenges caused by the 1994 tragedy.
The association paid for his tuition until college where he studied childhood development studies.
One morning when he was at his home in Rwamagana district, Niyonshuti was called by AERG informing him that he had been selected to join Imbuto Foundation Mentorship forum for Young Men themed ‘Strong and Dignified’.
This forum was launched last year by the Chairperson of Imbuto Mrs Jeannette Kagame to address challenges faced by young men as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by their experiences during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
“I was surprised,” he told KT Press. For Niyonshuti, Imbuto was for girls.”
A few days later, Niyonshuti was invited to Kigali Serena Hotel to a forum where he would also meet others selected by Imbuto Foundation.
“It was my first time to enter Serena Hotel. I felt a very important person being received. I met over 200 young men from different places and we were introduced to a mentorship forum for young men,” he explained.
On the third day, we were guided, inspired, supported and encouraged on different aspects of life.
“They would decide which mentor to pair you with depending on your interests. My mentor is a communicator,” Niyonshuti told KT Press.
Life after forum
For the past ten months since Niyonshuti left the mentorship forum, he has more hope and a clear vision.
“My mentor took up responsibilities he was never given. He calls me to know how am doing, he supports my ideas, he advices me and most importantly he at times helps me financially,” he said.
Niyonshuti was mentored on personal conduct including dress code and self-confidence which he believes are major.
“I used to think that a better job was only an office job but later realised a small idea can create a job. My mentor tasked me to come up with viable project before end of year,” he added.
Niyonshuti is among over 200 young men who are benefiting from the Imbuto Foundation’s mentorship program.
For the last decade, Imbuto Foundation has been supporting and empowering thousands of vulnerable Rwandan communities through health, education, youth and economic empowerment activities.
Awarding Best Performing Girls (BPGs)
Imbuto Foundation is mostly known for its annual awards and rewards to girls that excel in academics. Since 2005, over 4,000 Best Performing Girls have been rewarded.
In this year’s campaign, Imbuto foundation rewarded 202 girls from primary and ordinary levels and 25 girls from advanced levels.
During the awarding ceremony, The First Lady encouraged these girls to accomplish their potentials, excel in studies and aspire to become great people.
“When you have commitment with courage and vision, there is nothing at all that can make you fail,” she said.
First Lady pledges to support youth
During the Transform Africa Summit in March, Mrs. Kagame offered her full support to young Rwandans investing in projects that deal with health issues.
“Our duty is to empower youth with life-saving information and encourage them to take the lead in curbing health issues,” she said.
In February, the First Lady, under Imbuto Foundation’s iAccelerator program awarded 4 health projects; Umbrella, Girls District, Tantine and Tubivugane television Show with $10,000 each to implement their projects.
The program seeks to reward best young entrepreneurs, who have projects that bring solutions to pressing sexual and reproductive health challenges
On the same issue, Mrs. Kagame urged parents to give children ample time to ensure their decent education, growth and excellent school performance.
She said this during the launch of the Campaign on Governance and Family Promotion in October 2017.
“Our dearest children, remember your future depends on choices you make. Avoid those that lead you into vices. We shall repeat this until we bring down alarming figures of pregnancies,” Mrs Kagame said.
This year has seen Mrs Kagame in a couple of events encouraging, empowering and supporting girls.
In November, she attended the Maranyundo Girl’s high school first graduation where she said that she is living the life of her dreams where girls are having a platform to education.
“Not only do we focus on making education accessible to girls in all primary and secondary schools but we also emphasize the value to a range of subjects mainly sciences,” she said.
Celebrating women’s success
In July, Mrs Kagame commended women for venturing into activities that seemed difficult after the difficult times of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
This was during the 25th anniversary of Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, an umbrella of women civil society organizations.
On the same day, the First lady officiated at the launch of Rwf530-million complex located in Gahanga Sector, Kicukiro District, the first phase of a center of excellence for women’s leadership that comprises offices, meeting rooms, among others.
International events First Lady attended in 2017
On September 14, Breakfast meeting in London
On September 13, Bloomberg Philanthropists Board Meeting in London
On October 19, Global Citizen Forum – Sveti Stefan Monte