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Youth leader becomes a champion for education and world peace

November 14, 2016

Ian Manzi is a youth leader in Rwanda who has inspired other young people to further their education. He grew up in Rwanda’s post-conflict society, where 58 percent of primary school students did not complete their education in 2008. When Ian was in secondary school, the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda selected him to participate in the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State and is managed by FHI 360.

Ian Manzi, a Rwandan youth leader, has inspired other youth to stay in school and work for peace. His participation in the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program helped him develop his leadership skills.The program promotes leadership, civic responsibility and civic engagement through entrepreneurship to high school students from countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It also examines the principles of democracy and civil society as practiced in the United States and gives participants the training they need to develop leadership skills.

Since Ian completed the program in 2014, he has returned to the United States to study data science and economics at the University of Rochester. As a university student in the United States, he was eligible to apply for the Davis Projects for Peace, which provides funding “to encourage support of today's motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace.” Specifically, it gives university students funding to develop and implement grassroots projects during their summer break.

When Ian learned of this opportunity, he felt empowered by the project management, project promotion and budgeting skills he gained through his experience with the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program. He and a friend, Derrick Murekezi, submitted an application to organize a one-week peace camp in Rwanda for 32 student leaders, who would explore the issues of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Once the application was approved and the two young men received their funding, they got to work.

With the support of 16 Rwandan high schools, Ian, Derrick and a team of passionate youth associates hosted the peace camp this past July. They arranged for local civil society experts and lecturers to facilitate roundtable discussions, volunteer activities, lectures and a Model UN session to encourage students to explore peaceful solutions. Participants now have the tools and knowledge needed to promote peace in their communities.

Camp alumni returned to their communities and created clubs and projects for other young people, reaching approximately 150 students. The team put together a video, titled Critical Thinking for Peace Project, that highlights what the camp does and shares participants’ perspectives on the week’s activities.

The team has started to facilitate partnerships among the high schools and other organizations to develop Model UN Clubs where camp alumni are facilitators and leaders. Ian says the clubs “will serve as a discussion platform for all the students on the topics of peace, unity and our role in maintaining them.”

Learn more about the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program.

Photo credit: Monika Wilcox/FHI 360