Promesse 5 years old Promesse is little for his age. “Compared to other kids he is a small size,” says his mother Uwamariya. “If he had full nutrition, he would be healthy,” she explains, her face stricken with guilt. To try and make ends meet Uwamariya works on neighbours’ farms, earning 90 cents a day. If they’re lucky the family can afford one or two daily meals. But some days they have nothing. Uwamariya can tell when Promesse and his baby sister are hungry: “They are sad and weak and crying.” Promesse dreams of going to school like his friends. But his family can’t afford food, let alone school. Education is just one more thing he’s forced to give up.
The reality of Rwanda is both beautiful and heartbreaking … the people will always have a special place in my heart – not just for their dignity and friendship, but also for their courage.”
Georgia, 17, is studying Mandarin and French part-time while she focuses on her Youth Ambassador duties. She has long been passionate about social justice, and was co-captain of the Amnesty International group in high school last year.
Georgia said one of the most amazing things about the Rwanda Study Tour was being surrounded by like-minded people who share her vision of a better future for all.
“[Being a Youth Ambassador] combines two things I’m really passionate about – social justice and engaging with people … I hope our collective voices can make a difference.”
Lucinda, 18, was exposed to global issues from a young age through her mother’s work with refugee families. After completing Year 12 last year, she is now taking a gap year to dedicate herself to the Youth Ambassador role.
The biggest impact the Rwanda Study Tour had on her was the realisation that many children and families battle every day with the uncertainties of poverty, having constant “worries beyond comprehension”.
“[For] many children we met in Rwanda, poverty and hunger took away their right to be a child, filling them instead with adult-like responsibility.”
Jordan, 18, was school captain last year at Mackellar Girls High. She hopes to one day teach children in developing countries who otherwise wouldn’t have access to education. Jordan is inspired by her faith and Jesus’s call to love our brothers and sisters.
Jordan hopes to engage other youth and encourage them to act. “Teenagers have so much energy, time and desire to help relieve global hunger,” she says.
“It only takes a quick look at [Rwandan] history to know that they have seen much human suffering – but they also trust in the promise of the future.”
Madina, aged 17, was school captain in Year 12 last year at Sheldon College. She believes her diverse cultural background (both her parents were born in Afghanistan) opened her eyes to global inequalities from a young age.
Meeting children like Chantal in Rwanda had a profound impact on Madina and cemented her determination to act. “Children like Chantal should not have to surrender their innocence or hope to hunger,” she says.