Category Archives: Youth And Peace Building

Introducing Egide Ndagijimana – The Youth Together for Peace

Ndagijimana EgideEgide Ndagijimana was born in 1989 in Nyamasheke District, ruharambuga village in Rwanda. He completed his high school studies at the Group Scholaire de Nyamasheke. Unfortunetly he wasn’t able to take his studies further due to lack of funds.

Egide was amongst the selected youth who were trained in the youth champion program that was organised by The Aegis Trust in 2014. They were trained in leadership skills, advocacy, continuum violence and continuum of benevolence. These trainings aimed at nurturing the youth about peace building and encouraging them in carrying out peace building activities. After these trainings, they are required to start up peace building activities as well as projects in their perspective communities: Egide started up a club called ‘’urungano rubaga amahoro’’ which has 43 members. He hoped that by starting up this club, he would be able to have a positive impact in his community and engage his fellow youth in peace building activities.

Egide and his club members began by constructing two houses for two genocide survivors, Nyirahabimana Regine and Stansilas Ngarukiye in the Munini sector, Nyamasheke district.

‘’ I am grateful for the act that these young people did and I cannot seize to encourage them to do exceedingly to what they have done and mentor their fellow youth.’’ Ngarukiye Stansilas, a Survivor of the Genocide.

The Youth in Egide’s community also organise friendly football tournaments frequently and plays in different areas; these gather over 100 people. Egide and his young supporters use these types of gatherings to also teaching about peace building, its activities and creating awareness about the roles of the youth in peace building.

’’ “Being part of the youth champion programme was the motive behind my success in projects and activities regarding peace building. This has also enabled me to train to the youth about peace building.” Egide Ndagijimana.

Introducing Epiphanie – Your peace is my Peace

epiphanieResident in the nothern province, Rulindo district, in the Rukozo sector,  Epiphanie Musengimana is a 22 years old Rwandan lady that is a devoted peace builder that represents the youth and the women in her community. She was born in 1994 and is the second of two children: She attended the ‘Ecole Primaire de Rukozo’ in her early years and later completed her six years of high school at the ‘Ecole Secondaire St Jean Baptiste de Burehe’.

in 2014 Epiphanie was among young people who were selected to attend the youth champions  trainings , that were conducted by The Aegis Trust’s youth department. These trainings are aimed at teaching a select number of youth about peace building, leadership, and engaging their creativity to lay out useful peace projects in their perspective communities.

“to be honest when they told me that i was one of the chosen people to attend the trainings, i felt very happy and kept asking my self why I was the one and not others, without knowing what we were going to be learning there, it made me so  happy in a way i can not explain .” Epiphanie said.

After completing the trainings, Epiphanie returned home and created a cooperative with the help of her fellow classmates which they called “COYABICYU”. The cooperative engages in peace building activities like delivering rountable peace discussions in their village aout different topics and helping people in need by either providing them foods or other materials and domestic annimals to help them improve their standards of living. which will continue gradually as time passes. Epiphanie has high hopes for a peaceful Rwanda if the peace building method the youth are using is applied to communities all over the country.



Introducing Joseph Mugenzi – Seeking for Truth

egide..Joseph Mugenzi is a 24 years old person who was born, raised and living in Nganda cell, Musaza sector, Kirehe district in the western province of Rwanda. Joseph is the third born in a family of six kids and he lives with his parents. He went to school at Groupe Scolaire Gacuba for his primary studies and later attended Rusumo High school to finish his secondary studies: Due to lack of funds or other means Joseph never had a chance to continue his university studies.

In September 2015, Joseph was invited to attend the youth champions trainings, these trainings are meant to empower young people from different communities around the country with leadership, public speaking, advocacy and project management skills.

“I remember that it was around 10:00 am when I received a phone call from our district youth officer asking me if I am interested in attending a youth training at the Kigali genocide memorial. He didn’t specify what the trainings were all about but I immediately accepted because since my young age I always dreamed to visit the memorial.” Joseph explained. Later on he was contacted by one of The Aegis Trusts’ staff members and briefed on the trainings: “ I learnt a lot in the youth champions training than I expected, I didn’t know anything about peace building but I got to learn what peace is and my role in peace building” Joseph said.

The youth champions program is designed in a way that after the young people complete their training, they go back to their communities and start peace building project through which they can practice what they learnt and gain more knowledge.

After the trainings Joseph went back home and wrote a project proposal that he submitted to The Aegis Trust. Even before receiving funds for his project he went ahead and started reaching out to his community.

“Just one week after the trainings I was invited to a meeting of heads of villages and I requested for some minutes to tell them what I’d learnt from the trainings, I talked for 30 minutes and they liked it so much that they invited me in other meetings.” Joseph declared. He also started organizing public talks and discussion in schools and community halls with the youth and elders in the community.

“I loved sharing my experience and engaging others in discussions but I came to realize that I need more knowledge about the history of my country because there were so many questions that kids could ask me that I could not respond to. That’s how I came with an idea of coming back to the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn more about the history of genocide” Joseph said. With the help of his fellow youth champions in his community, He started planning the community group visit to the memorial.


the trip was organised for the 16 March 2016 where over 200 people had signed up.

“To me the memorial is a learning center which not only teaches about the history but also guides us on how to prepare for our future. I am very thankful to The Aegis Trust for empowering me and helping me to discover the potential that I have in me. I urge the young people in this country to be more dynamic and curious about what is going around them. For example I didn’t know anything about peace building or even the history of genocide before I was trained but now I know a lot of things and I even teach others…” Joseph stated.

My Rwanda


My Address during the Friends of Rwanda (FORA)  20th fundraising dinner, at Laguna Town Hall in Elk Grove, California, USA. 

My Rwanda

I am happy to be here today to talk about young people and post-Genocide reconciliation in my country, Rwanda.

Immediately after the Genocide, people lived with mistrust and communities were fractured. There was limited interaction between survivors’ families and perpetrators’ families. Some even suggested that Rwanda should be divided into two countries. But instead, we chose to stay together. We put aside our differences and made unity our first priority.

Let me share a short story to give you an insight into the Rwanda of today. This story is one among many others that I know and it inspires me every day.

Martin and Jacques are two young boys coming from different family backgrounds. Despite this, they became friends in the first year of high school. One day, Martin asked Jacques to stay at his home: “Your parents live so far away from the school. Come and live with us,” Martin said to Jacques.

When Jacques reached Martin’s home, his parents objected. “Why are you bringing a Tutsi to our house?” Martin’s dad asked.

When Jacques’ family heard the news, they were very angry too. The parents went to see their son and said, “You should not be staying with Hutus”.

Despite pressure from their families, Martin and Jacques said to their parents, “We are brothers. We are friends. Nothing will change that”.

Both families quickly realized how inflexible Martin and Jacques were. They started to wonder” “Why should we try to separate the boys? Why are we dividing our children”? They realized they were wrong; the influence of their children drove them to began working to unite people around them. Today, both families are closer than ever.

This is only one story among thousands where young Rwandans, my peers, have chosen peace, forgiveness, unity and reconciliation. It’s a story that shows strong conviction and determination to change bad behaviors and habits. We call ourselves “Agaciro Generation”. Agaciro means “dignity” and is one of our national values. Today, we no longer define ourselves by outdated and inaccurate concepts of ethnicity. Today, we are Rwandans.

In so many ways, as Rwandans, we are shaped by our past but we can’t allow ourselves to be defined by it. Remembering what happened in Rwanda in 1994 is important for my generation. Young people must learn from the past in order to build a brighter future.

Sixty per cent of Rwandans are made of young people. We are an important force with a huge role to play in post reconstruction activities. But we need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to be active citizens and peace builders.

There are a number of incredible organisations in Rwanda working with young people to help them become champions for humanity in their communities.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial is part of them. It is not only the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the genocide; it is also a home for survivors, a place where they can come to pay respect to the victims, remember and try to heal. It is also a place for education for all.

It is a place that drives community conversations about the past, peace and reconciliation. With this in mind, the memorial, which is run by Aegis Trust, hosts a peacebuilding programme that works with community leaders, teachers and students to equip and empower young people with the values and skills to be change makers and peacemakers in their own communities.


Across the country, many other peace building initiatives are being led by my peers. Never Again Rwanda, the association of student survivors of the genocide GAERG and AERG, iDebate and Peace and Love Proclaimers are bringing communities together, driving social transformation by encouraging critical thinking and teaching about genocide and mass atrocity prevention.

I believe the values of empathy, compassion and forgiveness can be taught – and they are the foundation of a new, unconventional generation that is rebuilding Rwanda as I speak. Young people, like you and me, are at the forefront of this effort by helping to share these values with communities across the country.

Rebuilding Rwanda is not easy and it will not be perfect, but Martin and Jacques have shown us that it is possible.

Building Peace in Rwanda and Around the World

Rwanda is celebrating peace with the world

Each year the International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on the 21st of September, and for the past few years, Rwanda has been joining the world in celebrating this day. Nationally, this year’s celebrations were marked by an event at Amahoro Stadium, in Kigali.

Held under the theme “Empowering a New Generation of Peacemakers”, the celebrations included the profiling of peace building activities initiated by young people. Many young peacemakers attended, including 260 youth champions trained by Aegis Trust through the Rwanda Peace Education Programme.

Aegis is contributing to peace education in Rwanda

Aegis Trust is involved in and has initiated different programmes to foster peace education and peace building in Rwanda. One of these programmes is the Rwanda Peace Education Programme run in collaboration with Radio La Benevolencija, the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace, and the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. This programme promotes social cohesion, positive values – including pluralism and personal responsibility – empathy, critical thinking and action to build a more peaceful society, and has been included in the national curriculum by the Rwanda Education Board.

Additional peace building activities run by Aegis include the training of youth champions. This training programme supports and promotes young people engaged in building peace in their communities through art, story telling and other activities. I cannot forget to mention the onsite and mobile exhibition activities run by the Aegis education team and Kigali Genocide Memorial. These activities are designed to teach the history of Rwanda and the importance of building peace. Thousands of secondary school students around the country, teachers, and others participate in these activities, and value this initiative.

Using lessons from Rwanda to build peace abroad

The latest and on-going peace initiative supported by Aegis is Walk For Peace. This walk was initiated in Kenya to inspire and engage young people from divided communities and help to break the cycle of violence. The Kenyan world champions in athletics, and the leaders from seven counties (Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu, and Baringo) approached Aegis to facilitate this walk, and to help them teach and build peace like it is done in Rwanda. The walk is open for everyone around the world to join in through this website. Moreover, Aegis has been invited by government leaders and faith communities from South Sudan and the Central African Republic to share their experience in peace education and peace building.

Please learn more about what Aegis is doing in these countries, and support its peace activities by visiting the Aegis website.

One Million Dead, Infinite Stories To Tell

“My sister, with her last breath, crawled towards me, trying to say something. She died with her hand on my arm. How brave that even in her last moment she wanted me safe.” Nelson Gashagaza recalls.

As I read about the brutal death of my cousin Penzi, memories from my childhood come back to life. I grew up with Nelson and our other cousins. Like many children, we spent a lot of time at our grandma’s house. A picture of Penzi, hung in the living room of our grandma, was a constant reminder that she once was here, alive and beautiful. No one ever really talked about her- at least not when I was there. For what I knew, this was an off-limits topic with Nelson.

Like many people around the world, especially Rwandans, I have been reading stories on the genocide. Reports on the commemoration events are flooding in from all parts of the world. Friends are calling each other to offer words of comfort. Families are gathering to remember their loved ones.


With every year that I take part in the commemoration events- mostly by listening to those who were there- I come to a new realization. This year, I am struck with the powerful personal stories that honor and give dignity to the victims of the genocide.

Over the years, there has definitely been a shift in how the stories about the genocide are told. The path that survivors have taken, I believe, directly impacts this. Overcoming loss and grief with stories of empowerment and triumph has been key in the sharing of testimonies.

I remember growing up in Rwanda, and dreading the months of April through July, but more so, the week of April 7th to April 14th. The stories were mostly filled with gruesome details. They offered no closure. Usually abruptly ended. Survivors choking on tears. Commemoration spaces startled with sudden wails from a survivor recalling an event. Red Cross workers rushing those overwhelmed with trauma. Counselors swarming commemoration sites to offer support.

Today, I am incredibly fascinated by the ability of the survivors to tell their stories in compelling and dignified ways. It might be the time that is going by, and people have found coping mechanisms that work for them. Maybe, they are just, different stories.

A dear friend of mine, Rwabigwi, wrote a very compeling piece this week. After I read it, I told him: “I have a headache from reading it- a worthy headache though.” What he was describing was harrowing, and for the most part unimaginable. I was thinking about Ange, the girl whose story he wrote about. Though I don’t know her, the family members that she describes in her story became real on my computer screen. There is a story attached to their lives, a worthy account of humanity. A story of unending love beyond the limits of our universe. An unimaginably beautiful transcendence of life and death by way of trauma.

When I read Nelson’s story, and the things that he remembers about his loving sister Penzi, I was completely taken aback by her sudden realness. I now feel that I can think of her, beyond her being a part of the one million people who died. She has a story, she has a name, and she has someone who has her memory.

Many times, we hear names. Names and places. Most stories lie in the hearts and the memories of those who remember them. Stories are powerful. They give meaning to our lives. They occupy a space in a universe parallel to ours. Our bodies will leave this world, but the stories we tell will be passed down to generations to come. As I read Nelson’s account of Penzi’s last moments, she is reincarnated through this story. Her love for her brother and her symbol of “holding on” humanize her for me, more than ever before.

To those who have memories, to those who heard the last words, I ask: If you find it in your heart, tell a story. When years have passed, and the first account bearers of the memory of genocide are long gone, the world will have stories. Stories to humanize the numbers. And that is important.

Remembering At Umudugudu

It is April. The seventh. Twenty-one since ‘94. Early morning, everything is quiet. You only hear a bird’s call. There is almost no traffic on the streets. Quite like in the previous years, on the same date.

Things are different today. No crowd is headed to Amahoro Stadium, the biggest in the country. Crowds are heading to the new meeting points. We meet here for the monthly meetings after the community service known as Umuganda.


This year, we gather to mark the 21st anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the village, umudugudu level.

There are approximately five hundred people here. I join them. Calm and reserved. I take a seat. There is no protocol. I show myself around.

At the gathering, there is a Senator. A Professor and an Army official. There is a boutique owner. There is a student, a young boy, and a young girl. There is a businesswoman; a taximan and a construction worker. A nurse, too. We all sit together. We all live in the same neighbourhood.

A woman takes the floor. She reaffirms why it is important to remember and what Kwibuka21 is all about. She is well listened to.

A man takes the floor. He details the history of ethnicity in Rwanda — one we have listened to over and over again, over the years. But there’s always something new to learn.

The young and the old listen. Carefully, as they all sit side by side.

An old man stands up, he re-affirms the origins of Tutsi, Hutu and Twa labels. He says he used to be called Tutsi; that, maybe, his grandfather (who owned no cattle or other properties) might have been something else — Hutu, or Twa. He goes on to explain the old strategies of the white.

There seems to be no absolute voice here. People speak freely and enthusiastically.

A young lady steps forward. She expresses gratitude to the people who have tirelessly shared their knowledge about Rwanda’s history over the years, and those who’ve spoken on the subject today. She, however, suggests the need to keep identifying and publicly acknowledging experts in the country’s history.

Another man speaks. He sounds uncertain, and his words sound unclear — at least to my ear. Some people in the crowd disagree. They laugh — in a strange sound of a “booo”. Some seem to agree. Others, simply chill.

At this point, people here discuss. They debate; they cheer, share, agree or disagree. They also exchange critical thinking. It’s all allowed. But above all, they honour those who lost their lives by re-exploring the past, looking farahead.

A young boy stands up. He looks 11. Or 13. Well, he’s definitely no older than 16 — you can bet. He greets the crowd: “Muraho!”

He says his name is Ngendayimana. He’s confident and clear. He uses words like “murabyumva” — in the polite sense. He also says, “twese turakuze.” We are all mature. He warns parents who do not want to share their knowledge of history with their children just because they “think we’re just kids” and not ready. He wants to see parents educating their children about Rwanda’s history, so that his generation too, is better equipped to do the same in the future.

It rains. But the exchange continues.

Few minutes later, at noon, we take a minute of silence. Seconds after, we listen to the President’s speech. It’s live on TV and radio. Poignant, like always, and reassuring — he says, “this country has changed. It will never be the same.” He adds: “It has changed for good and forever.”

Indeed. Rwanda has changed — better off.

Aba Youth

“Aba youth”- meaning “The youth”. That’s something I’m getting used to hearing every day at work and I wear the label proudly.

My name is Gael Rutembesa and I coordinate Film and Photography projects in the Aegis Trust youth department, which promotes peace and reconciliation through story telling. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world – A world where Rwandan youth are empowered to make a difference.Film & Photography

We organised workshops conducted by professionals to equip the youth with skills in filming and photography. I was impressed by the curiosity and passion the participants had. They asked endless questions, and with the trainers’ knowledge and experience in the field, a very fulfilling dialogue was formed. Later on, the participants were challenge to tell their stories under the theme, “Peace and Culture as a way to sustainable development.”

It is amazing to see the extent to which the creativity young people possess can stretch. All they need to do is to tap into the talents and abilities they have and to be pointed in the right direction.

“Aba youth” are the real deal – They are the future.