Murakaza Neza! Welcome!

At the Nyange School Memorial where students refused to separate into groups of “Hutus” and “Tutsis” and were killed — after, we watch the film “We are All Rwandans” and even the Internationals are encouraged to hear that as a mantra for the world not just for Rwandans themselves.

Muraho Mwese? (“Hello and How are You Everyone?” in Kinyarwanda)

It is our great pleasure to welcome everyone out there to Global Youth Connect’s Human Rights Learning and Action Programming in Rwanda!

GYC has developed this site to make the Learning and Action program accessible to other interested persons who cannot be here with us for one reason or another. We invite you and others you know to take part in the Human Rights Learning and Action in Rwanda virtually, send in comments, and check back for updates and developments.

We’re very proud of and deeply grateful for our partnerships with grassroots Rwandan organizations moving forward human rights in Rwanda, the region and around the world.  None of the excellent cross-cultural human rights learning and action of the Turikumwe program would be possible without the local partner organizations.

Here is an overview of our program’s key HR Learning and Action components:

        Human Rights Learning Workshop Discussions (special emphasis on Defining Human Rights from a personal perspective, on HR Law history, on Development, Gender, Conflict Resolution)
Site Visits related to the workshop and the work of our partnering Rwandan civil society organizations
Meetings with Key Officials and Stakeholders:  Advocacy Topics may Include: Police Detention Center Living Conditions, Human Rights of Historically Marginalized People, LGBTI Rights, Children’s Rights, Domestic Workers, Women’s Rights to Choose (Abortion), Rights of Refugees, and others that may arise during our work together
Volunteering with the civil society organizations for five days
Doing Human Rights Learning exercises whenever we can!



Some Intro to our Theory: What is your definition of human rights?

After arriving in Rwanda in December, Jesse Hawkes was discussing with a colleague about how Global Youth Connect approaches its mission — to empower youth to advance human rights and create a more just world. He mentioned that GYC’s definition of “human rights” is that of a holistic concept — in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — which includes both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

At hearing this, the colleague said, “I am so glad we had this conversation because when I originally saw that you were doing ‘human rights’ work, the hair went up on the back of my neck. I mean, ‘human rights’ is a highly controversial issue in the world today, especially here in Rwanda, because Rwanda is so criticized for its so-called ‘human rights’ record.”

This resonated greatly with us, for as you may know “human rights” is indeed a loaded and often divisive term today, heard most often in the media in reference to the negative aspects of a countries’ record, often looking mainly at civil and political rights. Narrowing the focus to fundamental freedoms and only pointing out negatives can stigmatize the terminology and the various partners, alienating international entities, including youth in our workshops, from taking part in a friendly dialogue with one another. This is why we  always try to de-stigmatize that term “human rights” in our Learning and Action Programs by bringing the youth into contact with so many different human rights issues, all under one framework. Dialogue is the crux of our work, and it begins with a shared vocabulary and a respect first and foremost for positives, for agreement, before focusing on negatives and disagreements.

This is why we open each of our workshops with the question “what is your definition of human rights?” After getting back to the basics of this definition, we have never found that youth are unable to find positive common ground prior to focusing on where they disagree.

In our workshop this time we will discuss not just the concept of “human rights” but also “development” and its relationship to “human rights”. In September, 2010, President Obama opened his speech at the UN concerning the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we recognized the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, including the right to a decent standard of living. And a decade ago, at the dawn of a new millennium, we set concrete goals to free our fellow men, women and children from the injustice of extreme poverty.

Thank you, President Obama for contextualizing the “development” ideals within the UDHR!


6 thoughts on “Murakaza Neza! Welcome!

  1. Hello GYC for human right learning and action community in rwanda,
    Can you(GYC & JIJUKIRWA) increase the ability to welcom many youth as you can,
    bravery for your work.

  2. hi guys, thanks alot for your self empting efforts towards enlightening rwandese especially the youth(future generation) about their fundamental human rights. its really owesome having you here!! william

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