Over 25 youth from the African Great Lakes Region have convened in Kigali, Rwanda for a two-week Peace Building Institute (PBI) program that aims at training youth to become better leaders. This is the 13 edition of the PBI and will end on January 10.
The program was started in 2008 by Dr. Joseph Nkurunziza under the organization Never Again Rwanda (NAR). Over 150 youth from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have gone through the bi-annual program over the years.
Potential participants apply to be part of the non-political program and selection is conducted by the NAR board through an intensive process.
This year’s selected youth from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya arrived in Kigali on Sunday and for the past days have engaged with some of Rwanda’s venerable peace advocates from NAR and some genocide survivors. They visited Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gishozi and got firsthand information from the museum about the genocide that plagued Rwanda 21 years ago.
The event is running under the theme, “What Can Rwanda Teach The World?”
Mr Nkurunziza, on his part said the event targets young people with leadership aspirations.
“When the Genocide happened in Rwanda, it’s the youth that were manipulated to start it. They were not exposed to dangers of Genocide and just fell in the trap. Everyone ended up suffering. We started up this event to train young people be able leaders and also avoid participating in gruesome acts. We Rwandans want people out, especially Africans, there to get this information and be able to detect warning signals of genocides and prevent it before it breaks out.” he said.
One of the Ugandan participants at the event, Kezia Mbabazi, a human rights lawyer based in Kampala, says she has obtained a lot of important information by attending PBI.
“I think it is important learning from Rwandans that others can also open up their peace building systems for the betterment of their citizens. I am learning a lot here,” she said.
The African Great Lake region consists of countries that surround the African Great Lakes. It comprises Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.