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It takes little to impact your community: Resourcefulness of Umugandathon graduates

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Community is a part of our daily lives. The people we grow up with, study with, work with, and interact with on a daily basis.

I believe that impacting the various people we meet on our journey as humans is critical. Not only because it shows a glimpse of humanity in us, but also because it holds this thing we call the world together.

If large corporations, industries, entrepreneurs, and even individuals in general worked to improve the communities around them, so many of our society’s problems would be solved.

Uwamahoro Blandine, an ICT student at the UR-Huye campus and an Umugandathon program graduate, saw her community in need and decided there must be something she could do.

Umugandathon is a program that was created to empower young people in higher learning institutions and secondary schools to create solutions to some of their communities’ most pressing challenges using locally available resources.

It was built on the assumption that they know their own context better and that they have provided the best solutions when given the right tools and space to act. This project aimed to create a platform for students to develop innovative solutions to challenges in communities while creating jobs for themselves and others.

The program was introduced by a social enterprise Love and Hands together with The Mastercard Foundation and the Development Startup Labs.

Uwamahoro and her eight other program-trained colleagues identified a need in their community. Because we live in a digital age, they felt it was critical to address the lack of basic computer skills among students, particularly those coming to university from different secondary schools.

They formed a group called the Digital Technology Skills (DTS) to work together to overcome this challenge.

This was significant for her because she believed that “everything is now done digitally, so it is important that they become acquainted with technology.”

They did, however, have two issues. They didn’t have enough computers, and they didn’t have enough money to buy any. But this couldn’t stop her from doing what she felt was necessary.

She learned through the program that ‘it doesn’t take much to help others,’ which she quickly put into practice.

“You don’t need much; you can achieve more with the few resources you have,” she said.

With this in mind, the entire DTS team banded together and agreed to contribute to renting computers over the weekend to teach students.

“Umugandathon and Love and Hands really showed us that it is possible to use what you have and achieve what you want,” she said of what she learned during the program.

Uwambaye Credia, a high school student from Agahozo Shalom, is in the same situation. Lifting To The Peak was a school project she worked on with several other students.

It was about providing unprivileged youth with the funds they require for basic necessities through agriculture. However, they were unable to accomplish this due to the large amount of capital required. They realized through the program that they can use the skills they already possess to achieve their objectives.

“Some of us knew how to make bracelets, others how to tailor clothes, and we would then sell those things and get enough capital to help these young people,” she explained.

The Graduates have one thing in common. They know they do not have a lot but they do not let this stop them.

While speaking at the Umugandathon graduation Ceremony Rica Rwigamba, the Country Director of the Mastercard Foundation, said it is important to use what you have but always strive to acquire knowledge through continuous training and self-teaching.

She said, “You are all here because you passed the training you need to do business. We tend to disregard the knowledge and skills we have, but knowledge is not acquired through formal education only; knowledge is acquired through continuous training and self-teaching.”

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