The inside story of RYLA Rwanda 2014

When DRRE Vumi Kacheche stepped up to the stage to receive a Blackberry blah blah blah for his efforts in organizing RYLA Rwanda 2014, it was the culmination of great effort from a great team led by Guide Rotarians Sam Kebongo and Gerald Yemie and that comprised some of the most consistently active Rotaractors in Rwanda including Amon Bata (I think it’s spelled ‘Bater’), the very previous winner, also of a Blackberry- same model as above.

Senior Rotarians arrive; apart from the fluker in white.
Senior Rotarians arrive; apart from the fluker in white.
IPP Gitau (C) packs tea before opening RYLA 2014
IPP Gitau (C) packs tea before opening RYLA 2014

That Vumi’s Blackberry was lost somewhere in the dark of the night drew very few sympathies though, since it was his second Blackberry win in under five months but….let’s go back a little; to how it all began (the mathematics and complexities of organizing aside).

RYLA Rwanda took place starting the evening of 21st March and ended on 23rd March 2014 with a swing of the right boot of yours truly, when I let fly from 20 yards a thunderous shot in a football game that (rumour has it) left the goalkeeper dizzy- but we shall get to that.

Anyway, 90 Rotaractors and some Rotarians from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda swung by Agahozo Shalom Youth Village- home to some 500 secondary school going orphans- located about 80kms from Kigali City to pass the night over there, itself being the chosen venue for this year’s RYLA. Every Rotaractor and Rotarian was allocated a family with which to stay the night. The families themselves where quite the number, upwards of 20, each in an entire house named after such heroes (in the eyes of the village founder) as Benazir Bhutto, Fred Rwigyema, Vasco Da Gama, King David, King Menelik, St. Valentine, Martin Luther King, Benjamin Franklin and Sir Ronald Ross. When I grow up, I want to be among such luminaries.

There was some entertainment later in the night before everyone was required to retire to their place of residence for the night. Early the next day with interactors from King David Academy also now in tow, RYLA Rwanda 2014 was officially declared open by the IPP of our sponsor club, the Rotary Club of Kigali Virunga- Rotarian Gitau Wamukui- and training began officially. There were lots to learn from the trainings that were conducted by Rotarians Sam Kebongo, Joan M, Patrick, RCKV PE Russell, and Centennial Past President Paul Masterjab.

Business experiences and testimonies were shared as were different entrepreneurship ideas. Also discussed were the roles of leaders and each individual was tasked to find out whether they were diminishers or multipliers in the execution of their daily duties (for details, please refer to the your nearest RYLA Rwanda 2014 participants.

Also discussed was the art of public speaking, as well as what the three branches of Rotary can do better to improve the functionality of Rotary international. There was breakfast, lunch and dinner at the event that closed that evening with team building exercise outdoors.

Later that evening and through to the middle of the night, a music festival was arranged in an arena inside the village compound. Rotaractors together with the orphans at the village gathered for a karaoke fest that had everyone miming to the tunes of their favourite songs but before that, we had the small matter of awards and official closing of RYLA. Four Blackberries were handed out to different winners- two for the best participants at the event during the day and two for the most dedicated organizers. Vumi’s Blackberry was found somewhere under a RAV 4, to visible relief from- well, himself.

Everyone danced the night away and enjoyed some non-stop music churned out by Amon of Rotaract Kigali City and Christian, a teenager resident in the village. The skills were obviously there; dance moves and all. The village director ordered us off the arena just past 23.00hrs and into our chilly beds, claiming we needed to go to bed early in order not to miss breakfast.

Participants very attentive
Participants very attentive
The signpost leading to the village
The signpost leading to the village

Next morning, and with preparations to set off for the bright lights of Kigali, the Rotaractors demanded to square off in a football match with the village team. The obviously satisfied Rotaractors were expecting to follow on from their 8-2 spanking of the team at Kayonza during the launch of a library the previous week but this wasn’t to be, losing 5-2 to a much fitter team of teens. Whatever the result was, there were moments of brilliance from the Rotaractors that left the entire village team holding their breath.

There will likely be a rematch in a few weeks, given that we are due to complete the launching of an Interact Club there (clap clap) and will need to go back shortly. We will also be much fitter.

With all done and dusted, we boarded our three coaster buses and hit the road to Kigali. Meanwhile……..

…….The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village is an estate that houses over 500 orphans, distributed in various houses named after famous people who- they believe- were of great impact to their society before they passed away. They live under a core set of values, and they are insistent upon them. Rotaractors were briefed about these on arrival and requested to be patient and adhere to these rules in place. In our brief stay there, we gave up such things as alcohol, smoking, and everything else that happens in the outside of the walls that now covered us. It was a proud period to see everyone being as one, careful not to give money to the chaps, or phones to make calls outside. We hope to have a long and lasting partnership with these people.

Our host prepares breakfast
Our host prepares breakfast
Guide Rotarian Sam during his presentation
Guide Rotarian Sam during his presentation

Massive thanks to the management of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, to our sponsor club RCKV, DOT Rwanda for the blackberries, Bralirwa for 30 crates of bee….erm soda, participants such as the Rotaract Clubs of Kasese (Uganda), IHSU (Uganda), Ibanda (Uganda) and Bweyogerere Namboole (Uganda). Thanks also to Rotaract Clubs of Inyenyeri (Burundi) and Bujumbura (Burundi) as well as the hosts Kigali City, KIE and SFB Kigali.

You can follow more about what went down using the hash tag #RYLARwanda2014 on Twitter.

Let’s do this again, let’s make next year’s a much bigger event and guess what, the District 9150 is coming to Rwanda….BOOOOOM!!!


Peter King Oloo

3 thoughts on “The inside story of RYLA Rwanda 2014

  1. Lovely….but Vumi Blackberry was somewhere in a ditch next to a Honda CRV…thank God it did not rain…very well written piece!

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