By Elias Hakizimana.
A couple of years back, the Club Rafiki youth friendly center of Nyamirambo in Nyarugenge District has been bringing children together to learn various disciplines that nurture their education, but girls’ number was critical.
With the introduction of a new program dubbed ‘Our Girl Program’, a significant improvement in numbers was made, where they also managed to acquire training on Sexual Reproductive Health that reduced school dropouts.
Omar Tony Nsengumuremyi, the coordinator of the center told The Inspirer that this program was established to encourage young girls participate in the club’s activities such as gaming and dancing as well as reading in the Club Rafiki’s library.
These programs are like a channel to gather children together and give them further messages to boost their education. Children meet four times a week in playing and gaming activities, reading different books and accessing internet in the library.
Nsengumuremyi said that children education improved at 40 percent as result of enjoying these programmes since 8 years working with Indigo Foundation.
“We are working on girl’s education improvement by encouraging young girls to participate in our activities and we have established their special programs and this has raised the number of girls from 21 percent to 34 percent, we want to keep this program boosted and continuous as we found it very promising,” Nsengumuremyi noted.
Our girl program tackled three main problems according to Nsengumuremyi, one being a big number of teenage pregnancies resulting in school dropouts, the second challenge was isolation from their colleagues to exchange ideas and knowledge on sexual reproductive health, the third one was girls’ education where their knowledge on English lesson was weak.
According to 2012 to 2014 statistics from the Ministry of Education, 12 per cent of girls at lower levels dropped out of school in the years mentioned.
The Club Rafiki Youth Friendly Center attracts young people especially out of school youth to other programs of the center, such as sexual reproductive health discussions, HIV testing and prevention, library, access to computers and the internet.
The program also increased the number of girls participating in sexual reproductive health at 37 percent from 12 percent according to the recent report of the center.
Nsengumuremyi lauds the efforts of Indigo Foundation partner who supports youth education programs and requests for a continuous encouragement to prepare decent young generation.
Our girl program started in June 2018 and has trained 48 girls who are also training their colleagues on sexual and reproductive health. The program hosts children aged between 10 and 20 years old with the aim to improve teenagers’ sexual and reproductive education.
Speaking to The Inspirer on Tuesday July 16, 2019, David Wheen and her wife Mandy Wheen, the founders of an Australian-based NGO ‘Indigo Foundation’ that supports the Club Rafiki to improve children education said a great improvement was made.
“We have been supporting the club since 2012, it was really unrecognizable, there was some buildings and a number of community staff seeking to work with local community but were very small numbers as young people attending club, now it is boosting: modern dance school, several hundred young people come every week to dance,” David wheen said.
“The center now has English language club running on Saturdays and Sundays for the early young people, it runs sexual health education programs, HIV prevention programs for young people in the community, family planning, enabling young people to talk with the peers in the schools and communities by spreading positive health message,” he added.
Mandy Wheen said that sexual health is very significant and that drug abuse was a big issue by the time they started to support the club. She said that the programs reduced lures young people used to be into.
She appreciated the library of club Rafiki that contributes to children education, providing a safe space for them to study with access to books and computers.
David and Mandy were coming to visit the center and see the progress of the programs.
Indigo Foundation has been supporting Club Rafiki since 2012 and it contributed to raise quality of education, cultural and social relationship among children.