On 16 June 2023, Jesuit Urumuri Centre hosted the African Child’s Day celebration at its premises in Remera, Kigali, Rwanda. Present at the event were the Regional Superior of Jesuit Rwanda-Burundi Fr Fabien Gasigwa,sj, the director of Jesuit Urumuri Centre Fr Ernest Ngiyembere,sj, Fr Gerald Kalisa, sj and the coordinator and trainer for children and vulnerable adults safeguarding in the Jesuits Rwanda-Burundi Region Mrs Marie Ange Nsabimana. Similar to last year’s edition, the Centre invited members of the AHAPPY generation program who had prepared songs, poems and plays to exhibit.
This year’s theme for the African Child day is “The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment”. Jesuit Urumuri Centre encouraged beneficiaries to combine this theme with the topic “Making cool decisions in real life” from the AHAPPY generation program manual to use in their exhibitions.
While giving his welcome remarks Fr Ernest spoke of the dangers of modernity and social media influence. He spoke of recent stories that broke out in the news where many youth were taking too many liberties and misbehaving proudly in public; “As you have noticed JUC/Christus premises are situated near the notorious place you have all heard of, Kisimenti, where the youth go to abuse drugs and alcohol and misbehave immorally in all sorts of ways.
All this is caused mostly by the easy access the youth have to influences such as social media. I implore you today to be vigilant in guarding your futures by staying away from such things. Don’t sneak away with your mother’s phone and start searching those other terrible sites. Young boys, stay away from older women who entice you with gifts and favors. Girls, the same for you, ‘sugar daddies’ don’t mean well for you. If you are to use the internet and social media, use them wisely, use them to grown and develop yourself, use them to build your life.”
Students displayed talents on stage, with recurring messages of the need to be aware of the influence of today’s technologies. The attendees performed engaging and entertaining plays, songs and poems encouraging their peers to use modern communication tools wisely. They put special emphasis on the influence of peer pressure as teens are most often influenced by their friends and their peers to experiment and try anything new.
GS Gihogwe won first place for the second year in a row after being the only school performing songs both times. The top 3 performances which were awarded by Regional Superior of Jesuit Rwanda-Burundi, Fr Fabien Gasigwa,sj, were ranked as follows;
No. 1 Groupe Scolaire Gihogwe Catholique
No. 2 Groupe Scolaire St Famille
No.3 Groupe Scolaire Kabuga Catholique
While delivering his remarks Fr Fabien expressed his delight at having witnessed that members of the AHAPPY generation program have internalized the teachings of the manual; “Those were wonderful performances you made today. There are a lot of teachings that should mold you all into well-rounded human beings who will make healthy and well-informed choices in all aspects of your life.” Fr Fabien went on to encourage them to collaborate with each in order to develop one another; “Please love one another, support one another, teach one another. Don’t keep good news that could help your peers to yourself. Don’t be jealous of one another. For example today, don’t be sad that a different school has won a prize, be happy for the schools that got rewarded, this way they will support you too and next time it will be you. That is how you get far in life”.
Reactions to the program have been mostly positive from teachers and students both; “The AHAPPY generation program was a prayer answered for our school. It came to address a very big pandemic that was threatening the futures of our youth. These are unplanned teenage pregnancies, drug abuse and HIV infections among the youth. Since introducing the program, we have seen major changes. There has not been a single pregnancy in the 3 years that we have been running the program at our school. Our children have access to good information , they are discussing and sharing among each other whenever they get an opportunity to gather together”.
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By, Henriette Mushimiyimana
JUC Communications Officer