Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
Aimé-Patrick Manirakiza, Burundi - Cohort 40
I have 4 years of experience in Telecom sector at Econet Wireless Burundi. Currently, I work as an associate at Higherlife Foundation, and International Organization which works in Education to support orphans and vulnerable children and has 5 years of experience, specially focusing on computer trainings and Database. Beside this work, I’m a Founder of Sayangana Association, where my focus is on clean up campaigns, protecting the environment, planting fruit trees at schools and mentorships.
The project is aimed at protecting the environment by doing clean up campaigns and planting fruit trees in different schools. The reason behind this project of planting fruit trees is that the harvest that will be obtained of these mangoes, one part will be sold to pay school fees to orphaned and vulnerable children, the purchase of school equipment and another part will be consumed by children at school. Before participating in YALI RLC EA, I did not have much experience in leadership and entrepreneurship. After participating, I acquired a lot of experience which allowed me to extend my project of cleaning up campaigns to create a new project to plant fruit trees to help children in difficulty and schools.
The clean-up campaign project has made many young people of Burundi proud to participate in community activities with the aim of helping their country to become clean. At the beginning, the association had only 10 people, but after 3 months of starting, the association was able to welcome 150 new volunteer members. Our message to make the city clean was well received by the community because it was manifested when we were doing community cleaning work, the local administration and the population support us. Today many associations have changed their way of working and doing the same work as us. The City of Bujumbura is today in progress of cleanliness. None is throwing rubbish in the streets; the government has putted recycling bins everywhere in town. After this observation, I changed my specifications, to integrate the project of planting fruit trees in schools. The purpose of this project was to help children in difficulty who could not afford school fees. After meeting with the members of my association and the directors of the schools, the idea of starting this project was well received. Now we have already planted 80 fruit trees which can yield up to 4000 mangoes, the cost of which can be up to 2 million. We continue every month an activity of planting 20 fruit trees of good quality. We hope to plant until December 240 mango trees. After planting, we create environmental clubs composed by 20 children. This will allow the children to be responsible.
Our project is a long-term project because we expect to have profits in 3 years. The children who will be helped by this project will be able to become good leaders of tomorrow. Overall, the project has impacts because it contributes to the protection of the environment.
I knew YALI through social networks and had tried many times to participate in the program, but my application was often refused. By the time I was accepted as a candidate for cohort 40, I had improved a lot in terms of leadership, entrepreneurship, civic leadership. Through experienced teachers, and materials like videos, clear books, I learned the qualities of a good leader and a good entrepreneur. In my association, I have 200 candidates and I managed to open other branches in other provinces of Burundi my country. Whenever there is a community activity, the local administration invites us, the young people also join the association in groups. This gives us courage. In the association, we support each other in terms of social and in business. If someone has a product or business, the members of the association support him by buying from him.
I intend to transform my non-profit association into a local NGO which will oversee social affairs. In 5 years, I intend to see also my project of planting fruit trees gives good results in terms of assistance to children in difficulty. The crops obtained, a part will be sold and help in the payment of school fees and another part will be consumed at school.
I collaborate with some alumni in my country who started before us and who have projects that I can gain experience from. The difficulties that I meet is to have funding from donors because many members of my association are still students they do not contribute. Buying fruit trees is expensive because a tree costs about $ 1. Members come on foot to the place of activity. People who knew me before participating in YALI RLC EA were surprised to see my leadership styles, and how I collaborate with others. When they ask me the source of my experience? I direct them to the YALI RLC EA site so that they can register.