Engaging, educating, empowering... 15 years later
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Imbuto Foundation and a mile stone dear to our hearts.
As a new member of the Imbuto family, this first year has been filled with great eye-opening moments, seeing the fruits of the hard labour carried out over more than a decade now.
It has been a particularly inspiring experience, seeing how through the different projects, our foundation has harnessed the power of concerted efforts between the government and civil society to impact the lives of our most vulnerable communities.
Seeing first hand a mother now able to afford her children’s school and medical needs, while saving extra-income; pre-adolescent girls learn valuable health and socio-economic facts,helping open their horizons to greater futures; brilliant young men and women complete their secondary education thanks to the generosity of diverse sponsors; but also families living healthier lives thanks to easily accessible and affordable medical services, are all true testaments to everyone’s ability toimprove the quality of life in our communities.
We launched our 15th year with a gathering for the entire Imbuto family last month.
This meeting brought together our Chairperson, the First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the Foundation’s board members, and staff working in every activity-implementing district.
This was a great opportunity for older and newer members of the Imbuto family to reflect together on the journey travelled thus far, reassess the values and objectives of our foundation, but also adjust our strategies to stay in synch with what our communities need the most to empower themselves.
We reflected on the beginning of our journey in 2001, starting with PACFA (Protection and Care of Families against HIV/AIDS), which catered for families affected by the severe HIV pandemic following the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Now known as Family Package, this project provides services such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, psycho-social support, male partner involvement, to economic empowerment through income-generating activities.
As the Foundation expanded its scope of work in its second year, youth education was added in our programme portfolio. The Scholarship Project came from the wish to participate in the shaping of the next generation of Rwandan leaders.
To date, over 6,000 bright students have pursued their secondary school cycle thanks to the generosity of countless organisations,and individuals, who believe in the power of education to open new doors to brilliant young minds.
Their success translated in a number of them embracing opportunities that have benefited their communities as well, therefore paying forward what was invested in them.
With the Promotion of Girls Education, our involvement with the youth turned to girls.It was with pride and emotion that we celebrated the 10 years of the Best Performing Girls campaign last year, through which over 4,000 girls received due recognition for excelling in school while setting an example for many others to follow in their footsteps, and further break gender barriers.
Our focus on education was complemented by the development of the Youth Empowerment and Mentorship Programme (YEMP) to provide platforms for our young beneficiaries to fully come into their own.
Over the years, we held over 20 forums and established various debate platforms for our youth to exchange with one another, while reinforcing their leadership,critical thinking, and public speaking skills.
Through this programme, 300 young female survivors were paired with current and emerging leaders from various backgrounds, as we believe that purposeful connections hold tremendous potential in shaping everyone’s future.
It is in this same spirit that the Celebration of Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) came to life, in the hope of encouraging other youth to think outside the box and be inspired by our past visionary awardees, such as the first female pilot and surgeon; a well-accomplished female marathon runner; a teacher who creates organic cosmetic products;and a communications graduate who is behind the media platform for the hearing-impaired.
This beautiful, and as you can imagine, at times challenging, 15-year long journey saw the Foundation evolve from implementing one project to managing more than 20 over the years.
From our youngest beneficiaries in the Early Childhood Development and Family Centres; to the adolescents who are educated about sexual and reproductive health and rights; and the mothers who are taught more effective ways to generate income for their families in the Support to Family Initiative, Imbuto Foundation has been pushing forward a holistic approach that provides an ensemble of empowering skills,at each stage of our beneficiaries’life.
As we are beginning a new chapter, we look forward to forging new relationships, while continuing to work with those governmental and non-governmental entities and individuals, who have been instrumental in helping us overcome many challenges to create significant impact in our communities.
We dedicate this 15th anniversary to those who accompanied us in this great adventure contributing to a healthy, educated and prosperous nation, and invite you to engage with our different projects, by joining our upcoming celebration activities and events.
The writer is the Director General, Imbuto Foundation