Yego has operated for the last four years and the biggest struggle is seeing kids in need and not being able to help them. If children cannot pay their fees they are sent home from school. The fees for public schools are 20,000 to 30,000 RWFs per semester (3 semesters per year (one semester holidays). Secondary schools, grade 7-12 cost closer to 150,000 RWFs. Vocational training schools are cheaper. These fees do not include the school uniform (20 USD) and backpack (10 USD). A year in secondary school would cost about 500-600 USD.
In addition, children need food. They often eat only once a day and it is not uncommon for them to go for three days without food. Parents need to contribute money for food at school (10 USD per month or 30 USD per term). If they cannot pay their children have to sit and watch the others eat.
There are many street children who have no skills and no food at home. They have to drop out of school because they cannot pay the fees. Yego encourages these children to go back home and pays for their fees. Home schooling is not an option here because the parents need to struggle to earn money for food for the family.
All schools are in English. In the public schools the first two years are in the local language and then they switch to English. The private schools started with English from grade one.
Funds for Yego come from Canada while the volunteers contribute in small ways. Theophile and Armel work three days a week as volunteers. Funds are needed for education because if the children get an education, they can get a job. A dream of Yego is to have a school with low fees and have wealthy children provide scholarships for others. At this point their primary goal is to bring healing and then to educate. The education will sustain the healing.
Yego (means yes) but also stands for Youth, Empowerment, Growth, Opportunity. The vision is to provide care, hope, healing, and reconciliation among the youth.
Programs of Yego:
1. Counseling/listening to facilitate psychological and spiritual healing. This will help break the isolation and integrate the youth back into the community. They need to feel loved and supported.
2. Education: Fees and materials are needed for the poor and vulnerable children. They are visited frequently and followed up to make sure that they are doing well.
3. Workshops: The people are brought together to socialize, teach social behavior, and build relationships.
4. Music, dance, culture and drama: Therapy sessions are organized after the dance sessions. The youth learn the traditional dances and can then earn money by performing. They do it well and can earn a living in the future. They make friends at these sessions and become part of a community.
5. Mother Support Programs: Sometimes students are missing from school because they don’t have food to eat. There are workshops for parents on parenting and reconciliation. The mothers are trained and supported financially. They get some income from small projects so they can feed their children.
20 children get their school fees paid. One young man has finished training and is now working.
60 children get school materials
20 youth are part of the dance and culture group. 10 have graduated and are all earning money.
Workshops are held every year since 2013. The goal is to increase these to twice a year.
One grad is now a policewoman while another grad has completed the A levels and is now at university studying agriculture.
Need partnerships, financial support to sustain the programs, and volunteers.
Vision: to bring healing
The 1994 genocide left many children orphaned. Estimates range from 1.5 million, 1 million or 400,000. The genocide affected both the Tutsis and the Hutus. There was so much abuse and rape. Living in camps resulted in lots of HIV/Aids infected people. There are so many kids on the street. There is no counselling and a lack of healing. Trauma is generational but affects even children born after the genocide.
Yego started in 2010 and there has been tremendous improvement so far especially in the dance/music, counselling and training. The problem still exists that some children cannot go to school because they have no money. There are many single moms. Counselling is needed for both mental and physical healing.
Yego staff feesl ready to have a school which will include counselling. They want to create an environment where the children who are struggling will be followed up. There is a building available for 150 million RWF or 214,000 USD. But everything starts with love. Out of love things happen.
Three men and five women on the board; Emmanuel, Anthaniasie, Armel, a lawyer, a Member of Parliament, a nurse, a social worker and a professor.