In early December 2011 RET Burundi recruited me to lead a small team investigating the impact one of their programs had made on the lives of young Burundians returning from Tanzanian refugee camps. Two months later, Higher Life Foundation Burundi invited me to join their team overseeing their growing activities in the Northern and Eastern regions of Burundi. While relatively short, this period of intense activity gave me a distinct opportunity to engage with a significant number of young Burundians both in and out of schools in almost every one of Burundi’s constituencies.
The more I interacted with my fellow Burundian youth, the more I realized that there was a critical need to create a platform that would challenge us, as Burundians, to discuss who and where we really are, especially in relation to the rest of the youth of the world, and define the visions we have for our communities and for our country.
When I started brainstorming potential ways of creating this functioning platform, many problems seemed to block potential progress. I worried about who would make up the team and how we would fund our operations. One early morning, as I was reading a list of my favorite inspirational quotes, I saw Zig Ziglar’s statement, “you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.” This statement sparked immediate action. I decided that I would start YouthGlobe, the social venture—or rather platform—that would inspire young Burundians to change the way we do things and contribute to and lead the sustainable development that our country deserves.
It has been a year now that we have operated in Burundi but the impact we make has been growing at an exceptionally high rate. With 2000 young people involved in our programs and 100 scholars scattered across the country, YouthGlobe currently stands as one of the leading youth-focused social ventures in the country. In our meeting, the Assistant Minister of Education said, “YouthGlobe is definitely poised to become the youth NGO of choice in this country.”
At the beginning, none of these developments seemed possible. In fact, I questioned even whether people would be interested in working with such an ambitious venture. However, overtime, I have come to realize that it all depended on the strength of the vision and the importance of the problem that needs to be solved. The time I spent with fellow young Burundians identifying the main problems haunting the youth was an unparalleled opportunity for the YouthGlobe idea to blossom and gain purpose.
Of course YouthGlobe is now more than a one-person idea. Many members have joined and their efforts are continuously taking YouthGlobe’s programs and impact to the next level. I could not be more excited for what the future holds! Often, things seem impossible and one can be discouraged from taking action. However, my experience with YouthGlobe has taught me that you do not need to figure it all out in order to start. As long as you are passionate about something, go and work for it—support is likely to come your way sooner than you think!