Young volunteers curbing school dropout in Rwanda

Building on Rwanda's culture of solidarity to engage young activists in social change

By Veronica Houser
Girl smiles at the camera
UNICEF/UN0284199/Houser

19 March 2019

Since the beginning of 2019, just 160 young volunteers in Rwanda have re-enrolled over 1,200 children in school. 

This is the Tugane Ishuri volunteer initiative. 

Tugane Ishuri – or “let’s go to school” in the local language Kinyarwanda – builds on Rwanda’s strong culture of solidarity and community cooperation to engage young activists to accomplish social change. Volunteers with Tugane Ishuri work with children in their own communities who have dropped out of school and encourage them to re-enroll and complete their studies.

Meet the volunteers of Tugane Ishuri!

DENISE MUREKATETE

At just 21 years old, Denise became a UNICEF volunteer with Tugane Ishuri to advocate for the importance of education among families in her community. Denise sees herself as a public spokeswoman, helping families face their challenges.

"Volunteering builds a positive reputation for an individual in society, and it can help the country to achieve its goals since the work we do is for the public benefit,” says Denise. “I plan to speak out for every child to be sent to school. I hope to see the number of school dropouts in my community reduce to zero.” 

Girl smiles at camera
UNICEF/UN0284189/Houser

"I joined the Tugane Ishuri volunteer project because I want to advocate for the development of Rwandan communities and I had a strong desire to help children prepare their futures."

Denise, 21 years old

JACQUES MUVANDIMWE

Jacques is 25 and lives in Rwanda’s Ngororero District. He chose to become a volunteer with Tugane Ishuri to help families who were suffering.

"There are families where the children have dropped out of school, and as a volunteer I can approach these families and maybe make a difference in their lives," he says. "If I can do this, the work will have been a great privilege to me.”

 

Boy smiles at the camera
UNICEF/UN0284197/Houser

"I am passionate about charitable actions. I enjoy bringing impact and finding solutions for families in my community, and the best way to do this is through volunteering."

Jacques, 25 years old

VESTINE UWIMANIRINZE  

23-year-old Vestine became a volunteer to help the large number of street children living in her neighbourhood. As a volunteer, she believes it is her responsibility to teach these children and their parents about the importance of education.

"It really helps the community, even if I do not see direct benefit myself," says Vestine. 

Girl smiles at the camera and laughs
UNICEF/UN0284192/Houser

"I would feel so proud if I could help these children. I am lucky that I had the chance to finish school and I hope to share these benefits with my community."

Vestine, 23 years old

THEOPHILE MASENGESHO

At 24 years old, Theophile believes that volunteering is important because it gives him an opportunity to transfer his knowledge and skills to another person. In this case, the children he is encouraging to re-enroll in school.

As a volunteer in his community, Theophile plans to work hand-in-hand with local leaders on how to approach the dropout issue. 

Young boy volunteer in Rwanda smiles at the camera
UNICEF/UN0284188/Houser

"To encourage children to re-enroll in school, I hope to connect with them both intellectually and emotionally." 

Theophile, 24 years old

THERESE MUSENGIMANA

24-year-old Therese believes that all parents need to understand how crucial it is for their children to complete school. She knows that school opens opportunities for a child’s future and keeps them away from harmful activities such as drug abuse.

“I have met children who have lost hope, thinking they cannot achieve anything because their families are poor," says Therese. "But when I approach them, listen to their stories and use information from my volunteer trainings to speak with them, we see that deep down, they all have goals and dreams, and we can help them accomplish those goals by going back to school."

Girl in Rwanda smiles at the camera and laughs
UNICEF/UN0284198/Houser

"Being a volunteer connects you with the community and builds trust. I hope that by volunteering, I will meet many people from diverse backgrounds and bring impact to my community."

Therese, 24 years old