Rwanda Youth Leadership Training

! Training Group

WD4H Rwanda Youth Leadership Training

By the end of this training, the participants felt connected to each other as the members of one community: the World Dance for Humanity Students. Many thanks to the donors who made this possible, and to WD4H. I hope the photos tell the reality of our appreciations. Without you, the training dream could not become a reality. I am also thankful to my facilitators, Danny, Chantal and Riziki for their hard work ensuring the smooth going of the training. It was life-changing work and that is why we can all celebrate the outcomes. – Justin

See photos below!

On December 10, 2014, something extraordinary happened in Rwanda: 93 of the high school and college students sponsored by World Dance for Humanity traveled from all over Rwanda to take part in a life-changing three-day Leadership Training in Kayonza, in the East of the country. The event was conceptualized by our Rwanda Program Director, Justin Bisengimana, and implemented and documented by Justin, his assistant Dany Rukundo, our WD intern Chantal Kubwimana, and local leader Riziki Mukamanzi. It was generously underwritten by a Santa Barbara Family Foundation, one of whose members is a World Dancer.

The goal of the training was to give the students a sense of purpose and direction as FUTURE LEADERS of their cooperatives, and acquaint them with the notion of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, the potential for creating their own source of income that will benefit their community. The gathering gave students from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds a chance to get to know each other, expand their worldview, and understand the responsibility of doing well in school and bringing back crucial knowledge and skills to their communities.


In the afternoon of December 9th, children from Kungabu, Abakundana, Cokawi, Abadacogora, Joy, Tubeho and Komera Cooperatives met at Justin’s office to board a bus for Kayonza. Before getting their bus, Justin invited each student into his office to talk about their studies and their goals. This gave Justin a chance to learn more about the students so he could fine-tune the training to suit their realities.

We talked about “Vision” - a picture of the future that creates passion in people. Trainees understood how visions are aborted and killed off quietly without telling anybody about it - what an interesting discussion hereLeadership – Before my father died, I thought he was the provider of everything for me and that there was no other alternative for me to live without him. After he died, it was very hard to cope or see any future. I came to realize that it was because I was not prepared. Leadership starts from early age. Our co-op leaders and parents and guardians won’t be there tomorrow. What will happen if the young people are not prepared to take over their responsibilities?

During the training we talked about the special kinds of courage needed for leadership: courage to define current realities within the co-operative, to change the situation they encounter, to establish and enforce values, to build a strong culture, and to lead every day until it is the last day.8.51 students

We also talked about “Vision” – a picture of the future that creates passion in people. Trainees understood how visions are aborted and killed off quietly without telling anybody about it – what an interesting discussion here

Entrepreneurship – In order to respond to a competitive global labor market, young people are encouraged to have an entrepreneurial mindset to be able to create their own jobs or to upgrade their co-op activities rather than waiting for jobs from others. Students were encouraged to move from sleeping with their logic they learn in schools to imagination and application in order to become creative while putting in action what they learn. Various concepts of entrepreneurship were discussed: the definition of an entrepreneur, the Rwandan job market, ways of identifying opportunities and turning a business idea into a commercial reality, and managing a project.

The students shared their own ideas about entrepreneurship. We focused on the experience of Jeannette Ingabire (Joy Co-op) who had encouraged her schoolmates to start a small project while they are still in school. They collected coins from all the students, and after some time, they were able to buy a pig and a sheep. The pig is now pregnant, and soon they will start getting a return on their investment by selling the babies. This money will be saved for Jeannette’s future business or, if needed, help her pay her school fees. Her story and her entrepreneurial spirit was very inspiring to the others.

Sponsorships – We also talked with the students about where their sponsorship money comes from. They came to understand how much love their sponsors have toward them, and they all committed to working hard so that they will also help other children in the future – as their sponsors have helped them.

A traditional song was sung and danced to honor the World Dancers who sacrifice all they have to make the program move. (A video was taken). They have also danced a song from “Soul Biscuit” band, which was sung to benefit Rwanda. The song was downloaded and projected so that everybody would join.

! girls lake


Lake Visit: One evening after the day session, all students were taken to see the lake. It was such an unforgettable experience for most of them who had never seen a lake – touching the water was a big privilege for them. The fourth day was for a community project: the renovation of a widow’s house which was broken down.


“Rebuilding Rose’s house was incredible and life-changing, but what really moved me and shook my heart most was not the house, but Rose’s feelings that a strong hope and confidence were built in her for the remaining days of her life. To see 93 young people at her dwelling was just enough. Nothing is small any time it is done from deep into our hearts. Rose was that woman who thought she was alone but from now on, she knows she is not alone.” Justin

Rebuilding Rose’s House: This project at the end of the Training was incredible and life-changing, but what really moved me and shook my heart most was not the house, but Rose’s feelings that a strong hope and confidence were built in her for the remaining days of her life. To see 93 young people at her dwelling was just enough. Nothing is small any time it is done from deep into our hearts. Rose was that woman who thought she was alone but from now on, she knows she is not alone.


66 Responses to Rwanda Youth Leadership Training

  1. Justin December 24, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    This is is such a big open door for these young people, future leaders.It is an effective way with which our young people can have an open mind for the possibilities in leading their communities.

    Thank you so much Janet for putting that together !

  2. Karen Stiny December 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    You can see the joy on the faces of the students! What a great coming together for Humanity. I am so proud to be a sponsor of one of these next community leaders.

  3. janet December 26, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    Justin’s response to Ed Diamond: What Ed said really drove me into the flood of tears, his gift to humanity is so incredible.We need men like this to heal broken hearts and inner wounds from any form of history in our lives. We love you Ed Diamond and please, keep up your great choice.

  4. janet December 26, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Ed Diamond: I have always been a lucky person. Lucky not to be aware I was growing up in poverty in a housing project. Lucky not to be the last in school. Lucky to know I needed to do better. Lucky to know that I would be underestimated. And lucky there was more goodness than evil in me. Of all the great experiences I have had, nothing has made me feel luckier than the ability to make people dance. That’s my gift to humanity. Not great science or medicine or scholarly pursuits. I’m a music man and the greatest gift I’ve ever received is a vision of you beautiful people in Rwanda dancing to the sounds of my spirit and SoulBiscuit. Thank you for your wonderful gift. Go out and spread your loving spirit and make the world dance with you.

  5. janet December 26, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    Dany Rukundo: After the training, I was speechless, struggling with emotions, wondering how the students’ sponsors faraway can become shape their new ways of thinking in a way they cannot get from school or parents. It is so emotion causing. What amazed me most at the training was that the students were able to understand their responsibilities in the development of their co-ops, to bring back what they acquire from school and use it to take their co-op into a sustainable development. As the saying goes “Repetition is the mother of science” and “Good rain is the one that comes back.” My wish is that we will be able to bring the students back for another training to learn more.

    Love and honor to you, members of WD4H, and to Justin for your great contribution toward the Rwandan community’s well-beings. I love you, wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014 together with your families.

  6. janet December 26, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Chantal Kubwimana: There is so much joy in me that I cannot fully express. Justin, I thank you so much for the heartfelt and very professional report. As I review it, I gain more knowledge, I will keep learning from it. WD4H, thank you for funding the training, which was the foundation of sustainable development of Rwandan society.

  7. Lynette January 5, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Beautiful work everyone! This could be a global model considering the stress and pressure being experienced in many cultures today. Teaching leadership skills and empowering youth really is our only hope…

  8. Mary December 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    What an energetic and engaged group comes through in all of the photos. I am glad you shared them with us with the captions to inform and draw us in to the training, the lake visit and the service to Rose at her home. I enjoyed reading about your adventures!

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