Meet Prof. Shirley, an Australian Education Activist Boosting Youth Development in Rwanda

By Elias Hakizimana.

Prof. Shirley Randell, PhD, makes part Development Committee of the Board of Indigo Foundation, an organization that supports Nyamirambo Youth Friendly-Center known as Club Rafiki.

Born in Australia, Shirley started her life as a teacher, she was teaching children in various schools in Australia, and her experience is based in Education since a long time. When she retired from working for the Government in Australia in Education, she started supporting Education especially in Africa. She came to Africa in 2006 with Dutch Development Agency (SNV-Rwanda) where she worked as Gender, Development and Governance in-charge and then she started to teach Gender studies at University of Rwanda.

She was speaking during her extra-ordinary visit to Nyamirambo’s Club Rafiki youth friendly center on November 21st, 2019 where she was presented various youth talents including songs and artworks, English corner that trains children to speak and write English language, Dance and Modeling among others. 

Prof. Shirley Randell during interview with The Inspirer/ Photos by Jean Claude Kubwimana

“I came to Club Rafiki Festival when I was here at Kigali Institute of Education, and I saw the potential of working with children in this community. I found that all children are given the opportunity to learn, they have English Corner where they learn English, they have computers and they learn Information Technology, they write some books that are good for publication for young people, they have a group of dancing, so, they have nice activities.” She said.

She appreciated the way these children learn and how they can manage to teach other people what they have acquired from the Club Rafiki.

The club also teach youth about sexual reproductive health, the initiative that is vital in addressing teenage pregnancies which is a burden to the Country.

Prof Shirley posing for a group photo with youth at Club Rafiki

Shirley said that the lessons given to children at Club Rafiki keep them busy and they are warned to not take drugs, to use condoms in order to avoid early pregnancies.

“I think this Club has tremendous potential in this community to increase activities that promote children talents and protect their health. I think it is a good initiative to give space to young women who come here. They learn about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and we know that teenage pregnancies make girls to leave school and come back after they have babies. I think that the approach here has a trained nurse and other specialists to make sure that young people learnt about Sexual Reproductive Health.” She noted.

She calls up on parents to help children to continue to learn about this initiative.

 Gender and leadership, Religion

She said that sometimes Religion is challenging when it comes to gender equality as you cannot see women ministers, women pastors and women priests.

“We do not see the possibility of women and men together working in Religion. We have the same challenges in every country, in Rwanda because the President has commitment to women and girls and his commitment to have women in leadership, we have a big number of women in parliament, so, that is very important, when we say gender in leadership we can understand that gender is not just girls, is not just educating girls, gender is women and men working together, it is girls and boys working together, learning together, achieving together,” Shirley noted. 

Both girls and boys apply various talents including Music

Tony Omar Nsengumuremyi, Omar Tony Nsengumuremyi, Coordinator at Club Rafiki said that they currently embark on children education when they are in holidays to keep them educated and prevent them from being lured into temptations.

“You know that nowadays parents are busy, this center decided to contribute its role to help parents prepare children and give them a space to meet and interact. We find significant results as youth get open to share their experience and we give them advice. Today we have been discussing on many issues including unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, which is a burden,” he said.

He calls up on youth to join INTORE MU BIRUHUKO programme to enable them learn positive disciplines, stay educated and avoid temptations.

Prof. Shirley Randell with Omar Tony Nsengumuremyi after having a special interaction session with youths

He says that the society should look after the child after he/she was released by a teacher to go in holidays.

Fabric Iradukunda, 17, is a Senior 3 student at Groupe Saint Cyahafi, he participates in entertainment and lessons at Club Rafiki and he said he has been enjoying the center’s programmes since two years ago and has gained various skills. 

Drawing is one of the talents of youths at Club Rafiki

“For example in the English Corner Programme, we learned English and we managed to publish English written Books like Rise of Hope, shining Dreams; and I have some stories I wrote,” Iradukunda said.

Eva Uwimbabazi, 14, another student who is joining the ordinary level of secondary school has been learning Dancing since 2017 at Club Rafiki. Beyond that, she said she learnt how young girls

can behave to avoid lures that can result in having unwanted pregnancies. “They tell us to avoid bad groups and to avoid unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS.” She said.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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