Youth Spaces: Is There Finally Something on the Horizon?

March is around the corner, and five Norwegian students will soon volunteer for Youth Spaces — they are even coming with funding for the program! Yet we do not know if the Gorilla Highlands Experts Organisation (our non-profit wing) will officially exist by then …

We had a general assembly in June 2022 and started the registration process the following month. But we are still submitting documents, making requested edits (we received the first useful feedback only in December) and doing constant follow up with Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). It’s exhausting and discouraging. We go to the RGB office with high hopes of receiving a decision but leave with no response at all. Worse, sometimes they are closed for weeks, and nobody answers calls. What once was supposed to be ready in September, then by December, then in January becomes, well … one day in 2023?

The struggle to register our organisation is a significant barrier not only to operating but also securing required funds. Our friends from around the world ask about volunteer opportunities and how to help us financially — but it’s hard to receive funds without the right to a bank account … Our Christmas Camp had to be financed utilising personal accounts.

We wondered whether this was happening only to us, but other budding NGOs face similar challenges. Everyone hopes for bureaucracy to be streamlined and to receive the proper support; the formation and growth of civic organisations in Rwanda would demand it. Are the youth of Rwanda even supposed to organise ourselves, or are we to leave that to the seniors and well-paid lawyers?

After more than six months of patience, we have decided to speak up. The best we can do as Rwandans is to openly share these challenges, for us to be able to serve our communities and make a positive impact. Yesterday we visited Mr Pascal Mutemberezi who manages the RGB registration process. He kindly checked if there was anything missing in our file and promised to fast-track our application. We felt assisted for the first time ever. Fingers crossed we will soon have good news to share.

photo by Miha Logar