Impact Stories & Blogs

Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.

By Alexis Arakaza, Cohort 18, Burundi

The notion of sex is seen as a taboo in Burundian culture. It is frowned upon to openly talk about sex to your child especially when they are in adolescent stage. Ignorance of their body changes and its probable consequences leads youth to sex practices at an early age. The repercussions are dire leading to dropping out of school, pregnancies, drug abuse, mental health issues, sexually transmitted infections and poverty. I vowed not to watch this happen. I organized and implemented a talk on sexual and reproductive health to high school students from Vugizo Lycee, Bujumbura. This was my most impactful event where I influenced 1,070 young students. They were eager to learn and engage in life changing conversations. This is part of my calling in servant leadership.

I currently lead a local organization, World Merit based in Bujumbura, Burundi. We work to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through creating awareness and implementation in responding to specific country challenges. In World Merit, we identify country issues, categorize them in the 17 SDGs and bring practical actions to handle those challenges where we involve the youth in coming up with the solutions and as key actors of change.

I attended YALI RLC EA in Civic leadership track as a leadership promoter and peace activist and I was impressed by the leadership program since it contributed to further understanding of non-violent communication course, which I facilitate. I have participated in various forums that foster for good governance and peace building.

I work with youth organizations in Burundi to make peace and stability. I have pioneered youth movements and workshops with the themes of peaceful co-existence and conflicts prevention in the rural areas since 2014 in collaboration with the East African Community Youth Ambassador platform.

Three months after YALI RLC EA, I was invited by Xaveri Catholic Movement, of which I am also a member, to present on non-violent communication and conflict prevention to all catholic movement members of Wisdom Spirit Parish, Bujumbura. I impacted around a

hundred youth.

Through my organization, during World Environment Day 2019, I collaborated with other local associations working in environmental protection for the whole month of June. We had open debates, conferences, radio programs to teach more about environment conservation. We mobilized hundreds of youth to join our campaign, ‘zero plastic’ where we collected non-biodegradable plastics around the city.

I recently won a grant from the US Department of State through Innova group, in the project competition for YALI alumni engagement. The call for proposals targeted alumni of all the programs supported by the US Department of State in Burundi. After being selected, I used the grant to organize sensitization sessions in Universities where we teach about SDGs, 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, Entrepreneurship and Social Media for Social Change to over 1,000 university students. I have engaged YALI RLC EA alumni to facilitate

on different topics.

In the coming days, the same events are going to be held in other universities under the same themes using the grant remaining funds. My objective is to have all university students know about SDGs by the end of this year and have the maximum of ground actions realized in response to different goals. We plan also to search for as many partners as possible to support our initiatives.

We also plan to impact high school students, teach them on transformational leadership, entrepreneurship in order to prepare future healthy and open-minded generations. Impact is our currency in World Merit. We are the change makers.

Friday, 14 August 2020, 9:07 AM