|Sylvere, SHE Rwanda Business Development Officer
Ed Note: Business Development Officer Sylvere was selected by MTN Rwanda to represent the country of Rwanda at the global conference, One Young World Summit, a global gathering of young people from around the world, helping them make lasting connections to create positive change. Check out what happened!
I know many of you have been dying to know what happened at the One Young World Summit I attended in Johannesburg a week ago.
First and foremost, I want to give a word of thanks to the whole SHE team, all of whom give me strength and help me to realize my full potential. Your love and your professionalism gives me the energy to keep moving forward. I also thank MTN Group for sponsoring me so I can attend the 2013 OYW Summit 2013.
All I can say is wow, wowwww! This is our time as young people to shake down the barriers to change within our countries and change what remains difficult. I learned that the word “impossible” doesn’t exist. I was excited to come back to Rwanda and get involved in every single aspect of development in Rwanda. Of course as a young person, I wanted to immediately come back and start!
The One Young World summit has become my #1 source of inspiration. Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the UN inspired me when he said that “when the leaders fail to lead, take a lead and make them follow.” For me, this was great to hear and I learned that I do have the ability to create positive change here in Rwanda. For example, it’s a girl’s right to not miss school due to the lack of access to affordable sanitary pads; it is a girl’s right to have a proper education around menstrual health; and SHE must continue to make these rights a reality. We are the solution!
We must spread the word until leaders of this country understand that girls are missing school between 4 to 6 days every month due to lack of menstrual health education and lack of access to the sanitation facilities/products and we should break the silence around menstruation. SHE’s business development and market-based solution are what developing countries need to welcome and integrate them into their annual programs.
People should not only think about making money from communities. Instead, they should think of how we can improve our overall community, and that is what we at SHE are doing! That’s what SHE’s mission of investing into people and ideas that are typically overlooked (and often taboo) as vehicles of social and economic change is all about.
When I arrived at One Young World, I had a mission to talk about SHE28 and our initiative of addressing lack of access to affordable sanitary pads in Rwanda. I didn’t give up and One Young World’s organizers Kat Robertson and David Jones provided me the chance to take the mic and present SHE in one minute.
Following my short presentation, I received more than a hundred business cards from different people around the world and a special invitation to The B Team dinner on Saturday night that included Arianna Huffington, the President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, whom wanted to know more about SHE.
Everyone that I met wanted to get involved in helping SHE! Speaking about SHE on stage was an amazing opportunity.
I learned a lot at One Young World too. I did not know that in Swaziland over than 25% of the whole population lives with HIV/AIDS and it is our responsibility to help reduce that percentage. I learned a lot about international perception about the United States government decisions toward countries. I learned about the political climate in the U.S. when it comes to Obamacare. I didn’t really know at what extent that malaria is killing people in sub-Saharan Africa. But now I know and I am ready to provide any help I can.
In summary, I got to know that education is a powerful weapon that you can use to fight against poverty and entrepreneurship is a long-term solution than aid alone. I also learned that social enterprise are a solution to end extreme poverty and it is up to us young people to make it happen. It is my role to push Rwandan officials to support the social enterprises in my country!
Viva SHE, Viva girls we serve and Viva One Young World!