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Interview with Benjamin Gahuza, University Student
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I first heard about the coming One Stop Centre in Kigali from a student-sensitization course with our local Habitat UN Volunteer, Sylvie.  Her presentation interested me and I asked how I could help serve in the efforts to empower youth. She asked what area I’d be interested in supporting, and based on my studies I chose Finance and Auditing, as well as Marketing. 

Young people in Kigali are impatiently waiting to see the centre up and running.  The concept is something we really need to have.  Though there are many youth initiatives in Rwanda, the One Stop concept is unique and provides services to both individuals and groups.  It can really touch a person’s life.  The One Stop will be a special centre also because it will make use of the experience of the youth of Kigali – through the centre, we can help each other, so it is not only helping youth but helping us to be peer leaders.

Funding for the centre is certainly a concern – I really hope that the centre will be able to operate on a sustainable basis somehow.  I learned during our training in Kenya, at UN-HABITAT, what a challenge the four pilot One Stop centres are facing, as they each have a totally different youth population to serve and different governments to interact with.  In Rwanda, the government from all levels takes a high degree of involvement in projects like these and is extremely interested in youth projects.  This is a bit different than in other locations where only the city level government might be involved. 

As a young person I feel I must contribute to my society by giving what I can.  I have been a student leader for long time, and I am a member of Tusome group which is a Youth Education Initiative in the Great Lakes area.  With Tusome, I volunteer by teaching in Congolese refugee camps in Rwanda, to assist the youth in the camps to where I am volunteering by teaching in Congolese refugees camps in Rwanda to assist these young people with their studies.  I am also actively involved in Gender  Mainstreaming activities through the Gender Club at my University. 

In my experience, in every group of youth each person has his or her own life and specific, different problems to deal with, so each needs to be treated as unique.  It’s also true that urban youth face a particular set of challenges, as living in a city comes with the dangers of any large and busy place.  And across the world, youth do share some universal needs.  All young people need peace in order to have a good future.  They need to go to school, they need adult mentors to guide them and be their role models.  They need the society’s leaders to plan for them, but also to trust them and make them partners in development and planning. 

Youth across the world are facing socioeconomic challenges – poverty is a major challenge that hinders the development of young people in many places.  Lack of employment can lead to problems such as drug abuse or even suicide, and also behaviours that lead to HIV/AIDS transmission or other STDs.

I wish that political leaders across the world would understand how important it is to invest in youth as the future.  I wish they would recognize youth potential, and the innovations that youth are coming up with.  I can say for the youth of Kigali – my peers – that we are energetic and bright, and worth investing in!

For Africa as a whole, I have to say that this continent has suffered for years.  We are just starting our revolution.  I would like world leaders to know about Africa that the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and they will generally give out what they have received themselves – be that good or bad treatment as it may. 

I’d like to see our own leaders in Africa find better ways to provide opportunity for us so that not so many of the bright and talented youth of Africa feel they must leave their home to fulfill their potential elsewhere, or to get away from corruption and lack of freedom in their home countries.  I want African leaders to recognize that youth on this continent are clever and responsible, and are ready to be partners in developing their own countries – like our leader did with the crafting of the Rwanda 2020 Vision, something I intend to help my country achieve.

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