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The green protector: Being part of the solution 

Dedication is one thing Grace Ineza Umuhoza had in 2017 when she decided to start a non-governmental organization ‘The green protector’ dedicated to contributing to the increase of an active youth engagement in protection of the environment. 

She started The Green Protector during her third year at the University of Rwanda (UR) graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Water and Environmental Engineering.  

That can surely tell you how much of an environmentalist she is. After participating in COP 14, at the time she came to a realization that soon gave her purpose in life. 

“I realized there is a gap of youth representation internationally. There were not many African voices and I just wanted to see if I could do something and be part of the solution,” she says 

With that realization in mind, Umuhoza decided to stop being a victim and start implementing the solutions she had in mind. 

“My drive was that there was a problem, coming from a country like mine knowing that agriculture is center of our economy, knowing that it is affected and also seeing that when disasters strike, women and youth are the most vulnerable.  I decided to not be a victim but part of the solution regardless of the fact that climate change is huge space.” 

She then started her organization. Umuhoza was the only one but soon realized she would need help from other young people committed to climate change action like her. 

“I started as one but we are now a team of 10 young Rwandans,” she says.  

Her team comes together to build solutions and implement change. “We design projects, we gather funds for it to be implemented, we have currently written five projects and three of them have received funding,” adds Umuhoza.

Ineza believes that you can either be part of the victims or be part of the solution

The young activist believed in her mission and seems to think many other young people should do so as well. She believes that above awareness, young people should start taking action. 

“The youth are interested, they are aware and want to learn but there is a need to do more,” Umuhoza says convincingly.  

The eco-feminist activist says that if young people start doing more, there will be a drastic change in all aspects of the country. She says, ‘we are all in this together where young people have to start taking responsibility’. 

“When I hear that phrase, I think that at the end of the day we are one people, one planet and the same responsibility especially to our younger generation because they are looking at us,” Umuhoza underscores.   

She says that the young people of Rwanda need to tackle the climate change crisis today more than ever before, the eco-feminist goes on to say that the youth needs to hold each other but also the leaders accountable. 

“Young people should speak up, know their rights and not be afraid to hold leaders accountable especially on an international level, we need to increase the level of accountability,” she advises.   

“We believe that the youth are the home of home grown solutions.

Other than that The Green protector aims at keeping the education at the center of it all. We believe that any change that is going to happen has to have education at the center where we meet with students through different initiatives we have.” 

Educating young people is key in building a resilient community

Umuhoza hardly believes that climate finance needs to be unlocked, that the international commitments need to be respected. She firmly says that loss and damage are particularly important to address.

“By addressing loss and damage, our communities will be resilient and have a bright future.” 

For change to be consistent and respected, the founder of this youth-led movement says, there has to be a common purpose among the community. 

“I believe that all together we are going to have a common purpose. It will make us stronger, and become a resilient community,” she observes.  

Umuhoza expressed optimism that with the constant effort and purpose, the result will be in our favor.  

“I just believe that we are going to be able to restore our ecosystem. Our biodiversity is going to be protected, our people are going to be respected and even our economy is going to be resilient,” she says.

“We are getting there slowly but surely,” Umuhoza highlights. 

Young people are urged to take part and responsibility in achieving the same climate action goals

Straight out of Twitter