Situated in the African Great Lakes region, Rwanda is home to over 11 million people. In recent decades, the country has seen many episodes of political unrest, including a civil war, a military coup and a recent genocide. As such, the infrastructure in Rwanda is wanting; one of the government’s largest objectives at the moment is the provision of clean water.
Rwanda is densely populated and the population is relatively young. Approximately 19% of the population are in the 15-24 year-old age range. This cohort will face major obstacles in entering the work force, in part due to lack of education. Moreover, adolescent girls face the added burden of widespread early childbearing rates, high fertility rates, and gender-based violence. Young women are even less likely than their male peers to complete secondary education, limiting their opportunities and ability to work their way out of poverty.
The origin of Rise Rwanda
In 2010, I travelled to Rwanda as a volunteer for ‘Accounting for International Development’. Here I worked with Dufatanye Inshuti z’Abana (DIZA), Friends of the Children Association – a non-profit organisation based in Rwamagana in eastern Rwanda. As an accountant, I worked to help DIZA put financial policies and procedures in place to bring transparency and efficiency to their finance function. Upon return from Rwanda I was inspired to continue to help DIZA and along with some close family & friends, I set up The Rwamagana School Children’s Fund (RSCF). A central tenant of the project was that 100% of donations go directly into the RSCF, and all administrative costs, travel costs and time are covered by the founders.
Having initially sponsored just three children, the fund is now able to sponsor over twenty. To date, most funds have come from donation based yoga classes. A steady stream of classes has developed in Ireland, the UK and North America, driven by Yoga instructor and studios that continuously step up to contribute.
This scope of the organisation has now widened and a new objective has developed – to foster sustainability. Rise Rwanda has been born and the focus is on implementing a microfinance scheme to support mothers and female guardians of vulnerable children, so they may support their children, contribute to the local economy, and stand as role models in the society.