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Eleven #DOTYouth in Rwanda who are leading COVID-19 community response and resilience efforts

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Rwanda is pleased to introduce eleven members of the second cohort of the #DOTYouth Street Team initiative who are from Rwanda.

In November 2020, DOT launched the second cohort of the #DOTYouth Street Team initiative to tackle COVID-19 response, recovery, and community resilience. This cohort consists of 70 youth from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Lebanon, and Jordan who are leading crisis response initiatives in their own communities.

DOT is supporting members of the #DOTYouth Street Team to further develop and scale their initiatives by connecting them with experienced coaches, providing targeted learning and training opportunities, and facilitating a peer-to-peer support network.

The first ever #DOTYouth Street Team consisted of six youth from Rwanda with impactful COVID-19 rapid response initiatives in Huye, Kayonza, Nyarugenge, Kicukiro and Musanze districts.

The second cohort consists of 11 young women and men in [Karongi, Kayonza, Kicukiro, Gasabo, Bugesera, Huye, Gisagara, Rwamagana and Gicumbi] who are leading community resilience efforts. These youth are establishing supply chains for essential materials; they are spreading awareness and sensitizing communities on COVID-19; they are supporting teachers and schools to reach students virtually; and they are leading health and wellness initiatives for women and girls.

We are excited to see the growth, scale and impact of these eleven youth in this next cohort as they continue to support their communities throughout these challenging and uncertain times.

Here are 11 #DOTYouth in Rwanda who are leading community response initiatives focused on community resilience, transformation and innovation.

Tobi Tumukunde

During the immediate school closures caused by COVD-19, Tobi started his community based initiative in Kayonza, Rwanda to facilitate student learning and to provide social interactions for young children in his community. Utilizing his social innovation and entrepreneurial skills, Tobi created a Digital Classroom to allow elementary school students to continue learning and have access to educational resources from their homes. Working closely with community teachers, Tobi’s initiative supplies necessary materials (tablets, smartphones and internet access) and provides training on how to use digital learning tools such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. His Digital Classroom now has over 1000 children attending, where they learn core subjects and are preparing for upcoming national exams.

Benithe Isingizwe

Benithe is the Founder of Their Voice Foundation, a social enterprise committed to providing health information, life and entrepreneurial skills to youth in her community in Karongi, Western Province. Through her social enterprise, Benithe and her team run three main programs: A) Adolescent Girls Program – an in-school program that focuses on empowering adolescent girls by providing life skills training; B) Humura Shenge Program – a program that provides counselling for pregnant and parenting teens; and C) Ejohanjye Youth Hub Program – a youth hub that sells handmade products such as soaps, earrings, clothes and teaches business and entrepreneurship skills to teen mothers and other vulnerable youth.

Christella Ishimwe

Christella is the co-founder of Baho Ubudaheranwa, an organization that provides psychological and psychosocial support to community members in Rwanda. Throughout the pandemic, Christella and her team of certified clinical psychologists have been virtually helping communities heal, develop resilient thinking and practise positive coping mechanisms to deal with the uncertainty, stress and anxiety caused by lockdown and COVID-19 measures. Christella is also providing online resources via blogs and social media to spread awareness on wellbeing and providing information on how to get into contact and access her organization’s mental health services.

The work that Christella is doing by supporting mental health and wellbeing is vital to building a community that is resilient and able to overcome adversities.

Jean Claude Manirafasha

Jean Claude is the Founder and CEO of Bright Future Contracting Company Ltd, an online platform that connects young professionals with internship opportunities across Rwanda. Throughout the pandemic, Jean Claude has been supporting students from various TVET schools across the country to build connections with industry leaders and seek opportunities.

Gisele Kanyana Uwimpaye

Gisele is the Founder of Family Pillars – an initiative that aims to build healthly family dynamics and to end domestic and sexual abuse by providing education on truama, family management and parenting skills. Gisele is supporting families and building capacity through various outreach programs on social media to help communities improve their familial relationships. She covers topics such as dating, marriage, family life, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. As more and more lockdown measures continue to be imposed and individuals and families are forced to isolate, Gisele hopes to support her community by creating safe, healthy and happy family dynamics.

Irankunda Peace

Peace is the Co-Founder of Ocean Rebero Ltd, a beekeeping and honey production company. As a beekeeper, Peace is striving to train women and youth in Kigali, Rwanda on how to properly and safely beekeep. Through her initiative, Peace is also supplying each trainee with a beehive so that they can start producing honey and other products to sell. As COVID-19 continues to shut down Kigali’s economy and job market, Peace is hoping that this initiative will be able to create a sustainable avenue for women and youth to gain a livelihood.

Marie Clarisse Mfurayabo

Marie Clarisse is the Founder of Mfura Foundation, an initiative that focuses on Gender Based Violence advocacy. Throughout the pandemic, teenage pregnancies have increased in Rwanda, and Marie’s goals is to support these young women and to educate them on gender-based violence. Going forward, Marie Clarisse hopes to work with other stakeholders to promote equality, dignity and more just society, especially with regard to the poor and marginalised as well as empowering the most vulnerable and marginalized women and girls in her community.

Sylvestre Jackson Karara

Sylvestre Jackson is the Co-Founder of Uruhimbi Kageyo Cooperative (UKC), a youth-led cooperative that produces hydroponic fodder for livestock by growing seeds without the use of soil, and with very little water. Sylvestre and his team of eleven youth are tackling climate resilience by adopting greenhouse technologies that mitigate methane emissions, and providing hydroponic fodder training, consultation, installations to farmers in his community.

During COVID-19, Sylvestre and his team hope to support financial and agricultural sustainability in his community by supplying hydroponic fodders.

Theopiste Uwanyirigira

Theopiste is the Founder of Teta Mushroom Farming Project, an initiative that grows, cultivates and supplies mushrooms. Through her initiative, Theopiste also trains interested community members on how to cultivate mushrooms for personal and commercial use. In her training, Theopiste makes sure that community members are well informed about the rigorous cultivation, production and harvesting requirements for mushrooms.

By providing such training, Theopiste hopes to end hunger and malnutrition in her community by teaching communities on how to grow their own food with very little supplies.

Anastase Ndagijimana

Anastase is the Founder of We Got Your Back (WGYB) Rwanda, a youth-led initiative in Kigali, Rwanda that strives to build capacity and provide services to the most vulnerable and marginalized people in his community. Through his initiative, Anastase is addressing issues related sexual harassment, gender based violence and human rights violations in Kigali. In addition, Anastase is also providing training and support networks to young mothers.

Phabiola Mukundente

Phabiola is the Founder of Women TV Studio, an initiative that supports young women and girls in Rwanda to become professional photographers and videographers. In addition, Phabiola is also sensitizing and spreading awareness in her community on COVID-19 safeguarding and prevention methods.
Through her community initiative, Phabiola hopes to tackle the shortage of women in the media sector in Rwanda and plans to support the women she trains by promoting their videos and photos to help them establish a clientele base.

Digital Opportunity Trust’s #DOTYouth Street Team is a COVID-19 response and resilience initiative supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation

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