Training Site: Nyarusange
Sector and District: Muhazi, Rwamagana
Implementing Partner: Frontiers Adventures Great Lakes
As the youth in the Nyarusange training site make last minute preparations for their external examination, trainers Annet Mwizerwa, 31, and Cleophas Gasasira, 27, offer them words of encouragement and support. Fortunately, their support isn’t limited just to exam days. Annet and Cleophas consistently love and care for their students, not only because they believe in the power of HDAK, but because this program has improved them as trainers and people.
Annet and Cleophas have been training since 2010 and 2015 respectively, but did not intend to start off as such. Cleophas studied Business and Information Technology, while Annet studied Law. However, they soon realized their attraction to improving lives. “I have a passion for working with young people. When I have contributed something to someone’s life, it touches my heart,” Cleophas said.
“I love having fun with youth, and working to transform their lives,” Annet added. “I work with vulnerable youth, those who dropped out of school with no job. Through this training, you see these people improving their attitudes.”
“I have a passion for working with young people. When I have contributed something to someone’s life, it touches my heart." - Cleophas Gasasira
After they realized this passion and began to train, they themselves began to change and grow as people. “By becoming a trainer, I developed an ability to appreciate differences. I grew up in a situation where I could see someone completely different from me, and not give them much attention. But after becoming a trainer, I started valuing people regardless of their characteristics. I learned how to be humble,” Cleophas noted.
Based on their passion for improving youth livelihoods, Annet and Cleophas started training HDAK, so that they can best serve these youth by improving their employability skills. Early on, Cleophas noticed how the unique and valuable focus of the program made it so much more effective in reaching vulnerable youth. “Before Huguka Dukore, we didn’t put much emphasis on social inclusion. We used to just go to school and train students. After HDAK, we brought in the ideas of social inclusion, where no one is prohibited from being in the program,” Cleophas said.
Through her experience training HDAK, Annet identified some areas of personal growth: humbleness, care, and commitment. “Before I became a trainer, I thought about what I can do to help the less fortunate. Then I really fell in love with Huguka Dukore, and discovered that everything is possible when you have passion and love for the people you are serving. You become a servant rather than a master, learn about their challenges, and understand how to help them.”
Cleophas added that HDAK training has helped him reflect on his own life. “Whenever we teach others, we should think about our own actions. For example, in Module 1 of the curriculum, we taught them about goal setting and personal planning. Afterwards, I cross-checked with my business and personal work to see if I’m applying these lessons to my own projects.”
“Before I became a trainer, I thought about what I can do to help the less fortunate. Then I really fell in love with Huguka Dukore, and discovered that everything is possible when you have passion and love for the people you are serving. You become a servant rather than a master, learn about their challenges, and understand how to help them.” - Annet Mwizerwa
Though the lessons of HDAK are clearly relevant to improving one’s standard of living, accessing these lessons can sometimes be difficult. For the youth, attending HDAK training can often pose extraordinary challenges. Those without access to transport may have to walk many kilometers to reach the training grounds. Others who depend on daily wages are anxious that the time they spend in training could instead be used to earn for their dinner. For girls, pregnancy can also become a challenge in terms of prioritizing infant care against investment in personal growth. This challenge is similarly faced by young mothers, who must balance nurturing their child with their own livelihoods.
Despite these struggles, the trainers believe that HDAK is extremely worthwhile and beneficial as it provides these youth valuable lessons for both work readiness and life. Cleophas believes the most important learning is character development, as it teaches youth to live in varying circumstances. Meanwhile, Annet explains that goal setting is the key for these youth to unlock their futures. “Before, even though the youth may have goals, they didn’t know how to achieve them. But when we train them, they realize that if they follow the steps to their goals, they can get to where they want to be.”
Through the trainings, Annet has already seen youth change their attitudes regarding their futures. “Depending on the level of people’s literacy and social status, they may feel that they have less chances than others to succeed, and that they are meant to remain vulnerable. But when they join our trainings, they start to gradually change and start seizing opportunities.”
Both trainers acknowledge that their youth may face challenges after graduating from HDAK from non-supportive peers and leaders. But, through the learnings from the program, they are sure that the youth can persevere. “These youth will be strong in their values. They will face the challenge of discouraging fellows, but they will be able to overcome it, because they have something to make them stand strong,” Cleophas said.
For the future, both Annet and Cleophas hope to continue training and working with youth in some capacity. Annet wishes to become an international trainer and start working part-time as a lawyer, and Cleophas wants to continue exploring his passion for contributing to others.
Outside of training, Annet and Cleophas are both agricultural entrepreneurs. Annet works with her husband to keep pigs and cultivate banana, while Cleophas buys and sells cows. In their free time, Cleophas enjoys watching football, while Annet likes to go to church and spend time with her family.