Despite being nicknamed ‘Moses’ and a bit of a beard going on, I am blessed to be among the many young people involved in the ICS programme. A key part of this experience is working and living alongside Rwandan volunteers and it truly is the most rewarding part. It places the volunteer journey on a fast track to making an effective contribution and enriches the sharing of cultures.
Through this, we have engaged as a team on some amazing experiences, having spent quality time visiting a street children’s centre on the weekend, attended a comic competition for children tackling child abuse and shared testimony with hundreds at a youth crusade.
In Rwanda, the percentage of the population aged less than 15 is 43.6% whereas the percentage of the population less than 25 years of age is equal to 63% (UNDP). Considering this, the youth have a significant voice and valuable role in building the future for their country.
As it’s International Youth Day today, I hope to address the role of young people who recognise the positive contribution to their societies and seek stability in a globalised world that continues to change rapidly.
There are three guys who I dedicate this blog to – who have been really helpful team mates, brilliant friends and a barrel of laughs. They share their hopes for the youth of Rwanda, their insights into helping others and making a positive impact.
Claude ‘Mandela’ Ruzic
With much of his inspiration from Nelson Mandela, Claude is passionate about working hard and sustaining development in a positive way. His dream is to be a voice for the voiceless, working as an international journalist and raising advocacy for the people in difficult situations, for the orphans and widows. He wants the youth of Rwanda to think about their future and to take direction in life from Jesus Christ. As well as an amazing sense of humour that rivals Irish wit, he continues to make a difference by teaching valuable skills in public speaking.
His message to the youth is to open our eyes and seek how to liberate ourselves from disadvantage. We should help ourselves, learn much and be changed by Jesus Christ who brings freedom.
Eric studied teaching and believes it is a matter of being called by God as it is not an easy career. He hopes to serve people and make a difference, giving children the opportunity to have vision and direct them. A local metaphor used is changing a wild chicken into home chicken, which involves improving their living conditions and indeed their behaviour.
He hopes for youth to work well as many depend on them, desire education, protect their lives from HIV and drug abuse and seek a bright future so they can do something good. Didier has a strong desire to help other people by using his gifts and be an example to others, through completing his medical studies and becoming a doctor. He is currently writing a book about Unlocking the key to your future, which is not about Doc’s time-machine but understanding your potential and working towards your dream, whatever that may be.
At home, we have a wall of quotes that we write down statements that have inspired us or just made us laugh. Today, Claude and I were talking about valuing education and he reminded me of this: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Although Claude is a king of quotes, it was Ghandi who said it first. On this day and across the globe, I hope we can apply this wisdom which can inspire youth to live life to the full and for the older ones to enjoy living with youthfulness!