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    Fixing up the youth center

    Day 290

    Nyabiheke Youth

    We’re hopping from Houston across the Atlantic to the rolling hills of northern Rwanda for the next few days. Nyabiheke Refugee Camp is home to over 14,000 refugees from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and many who live here have called it home for close to ten years, including the youth who sit on the camp’s youth committee.

    These youth have big dreams. They practice karate, study English, read about economics and play basketball. And, they even have a space meant for all these activities.

    “We are interested in so many activities and we use this space for those things,” explains Gitau, the president of the youth center. “These passions and studies can mean a lot to our future.”

    The youth center is a gathering, meeting and recreation space for all the youth living in Nyabiheke. But, it could use some upgrades. The lights have been burned out for months, the floors are dusty and littered with trash and metal scraps, several windows are broken and the doors stand without locks. The space is unsafe and it doesn’t feel like their own. All the games, books and sports equipment the youth committee has gathered over the years have to be carried home each night for safekeeping.

    So, we set to work alongside the youth to get the building back in working order. First, we installed new light fixtures so the space could be used past 6pm, when darkness falls on Nyabiheke. Next, we swept, scrubbed and scraped to get the floors and walls primed for painting. Then, new windows were put in with safety bars and locks installed on all doors.

    With just these few small changes, the youth center was already looking better! …and ready for a few more upgrades…

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