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Imbuto Celebrates its First 12+ Graduates

When one thinks of girls’ education in Rwanda, they automatically think of projects that have been spearheaded by the First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame, to promote the importance of school education for girls. But education is not limited to a classroom. It happens all around us, in our daily lives. For the past two years, Imbuto Foundation has been implementing a programme that does just that.

12+ Programme is implemented by three organisations in Rwanda: Caritas, World Relief and Imbuto Foundation, each operating in 10 districts. Imbuto has been able to undertake this project through the continued support of DFID (The Department for International Development, a UK government department that administers aid to foreign countries), Girl Effect, and the Rwandan government.

The programme was designed to mentor young girls on social, health and economic aspects. It focuses on girls between the ages of 10-12, as they tend to be at an impressionable and vulnerable stage of life. The programme uses a unique method of teaching those three aspects to the young girls, through the use of mentors.

The mentors are a key and influential part of the programme. They meet the girls in safe spaces and conduct lessons every weekend. These lessons cover plenty of subjects, ranging from learning about their sexual health, to learning about the importance of being financially independent.

Each group of girls, from the 10 districts in which Imbuto implements this programme, undergoes a 10-month learning process, after which the girls graduate. This year, the graduation ceremonies of the first cohort of 4,023 girls, started on 27 September and will go on in the 10 districts for two consecutive weeks.

On 27 September, an event held in Twumba Sector, in Karongi District, saw more that 400 girls graduate.

The graduation ceremony attended by Imbuto’s Director General, the Mayor of Karongi, among other distinguished guests, was a platform to encourage the girls and the community to continue living and sharing the vast lessons that the programme has taught them.

Also in attendance was the Best Performing Girl (BPG) Tetero Solange, who delivered a speech encouraging the girls to always pursue excellence in all things, despite life challenges. Solange, who is currently carrying out an internship with BRAMIN (Bralirwa and Minimex Corporate), is a graduate of the National University of Rwanda where she pursued a degree in agriculture, animal sciences and veterinary medicine. Using herself as an example to the girls, Solange urged them to never stop learning and to always work hard. “You have to work hard, not only for yourself but for your parents and community. Getting an education gives you the chance to be successful, to be able to help others,” advised Solange.

During the event, the graduating girls showcased what they had learned over the past 10 months in the form of songs, dances and plays. Ending the event on a high note, the graduating girls’ names were called out, and they were presented with their certificates, for having successfully completed the programme.

With the graduation still very fresh in their minds, one question still arises.

What do the girls do, now that they have graduated?

The girls have been given important tools to not only help them, but their community as a whole. The responsibility therefore falls on the community to ensure that these young girls follow through with the lessons they learned.

These young graduates will continue to meet; they will lead their own clubs, and will check-in with their mentors monthly, as they carry these lessons into their next stage in life.