Volunteering with Uyisenga Ni Manzi this summer for a week as part of a human rights delegation through Global Youth Connect, I learned so much about the work that UNM does and what an essential NGO they are in Rwanda. I decided a week was just not enough. Me and another GYC participant, Jamie, decided to return to Rwanda and continue volunteering with UNM. We returned in November for three months to do a volunteer internship. During my time working with UNM,not only I have come to appreciate all the work that they do, much of which I know I’m not even aware of, but have learned so much personally and professionally.
One of the main roles we were given while working with UNM was to help write different grant proposals. This included doing in depth research on different topics, some of which we were familiar with and others were completely foreign. With my educational background in psychology and my co-volunteers being in community development we made a great team for many of the grant proposal that we were asked to help write. For the first two months we focused on grant writing and worked with Chaste, who is a saint that keeps UNM together.
This past month we had the great opportunity to work on documentation of the Icyerekzo project. This project started about a year and a half ago to help vulnerable youth in the community become economically self -sustaining through agriculture and other non-farming activities, such as soap making. Jamie and I got to participate in interviews with some of the cooperative members and some focus group discussions. We filmed many days on the farms, and in the members’ homes and heard their personal stories.
Our three months are over and Jamie went home but I find myself still unable to leave Rwanda. I will stay a while longer and continue to work on documentation of the Icyerekzo project and make a short film about the stories of we had the privilege of hearing. In volunteering with UNM I have had some amazing experiences, met amazing people, and also learned many skills that I know will help me in my future career.
By Tara PIPES