An interdisciplinary collaborative project working to help UK youths of Rwandan background and Rwandan youths work together to build a better future for Rwanda.

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About the project

A participatory collaborative research project that is building knowledge exchange networks between young Rwandans aged 18-25 in the UK and Rwanda. The aim is to assess how those networks might be used to address key development challenges on young people’s own terms. In doing so, the project will assess the mutual benefits of using peer youth mentoring to build knowledge, skills and identity of young Rwandans, and empower them to contribute to Rwanda’s economic growth.

The project is funded by the University with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund; it addresses Sustainable Development Goal no. 8: Good jobs and economic growth.

The project

In the first phase of the project, which started in October 2019, 10 UK participants were selected to be partnered with young persons from Rwanda to design and implement a small social enterprise or initiative that created space or resources for supporting the wellbeing and resilience of people and communities in Rwanda.

In February 2020, selected participants were sponsored to travel to the capital Kigali for 7 days to meet up with their partners, receive training from the Aegis Trust and visit existing social enterprise projects and initiatives around Rwanda to inspire them. The aim was to assess the different motivations for engaging with one another, and to consider whether mutual forms of dialogue could build forms of solidarity and care that overcome traditional hierarchies between volunteers and recipients.

The result was two co-created initiatives that addressed two contemporary development challenges left in Rwanda in the wake of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The first focussed on inclusive education, the second drew from participants’ shared interests in the legacies of mental health amongst survivors to design a series of workshops on improving families' emotional literacies.

Evaluation and dissemination

The project was evaluated in June 2020 using site visits and follow-up interviews. The research revealed that while the above models of volunteering dialogue can offer transnational forms of solidarity and dialogue, they can also create unequal power relationships between civil society actors on the ground and members of the diaspora, and therefore need to be carefully managed.

Reports will be prepared for the project partners and academic papers will be prepared for knowledge sharing with other researchers.

Read Dr Dickinson's article about the Rwanda project on the Geography blog.

Research team

Both investigators are members of the University-led collaborative and interdisciplinary Forced Migration Network.

Project partners

  • The Aegis Trust, working to prevent genocide and mass atrocities worldwide
  • John Binama, Research Associate 

Background image: Programme participants during a workshop in Kigali