Gasan Mutesi – Amani Africa
Gasana Mutesi, President of Amani Africa, will speak about her experiences working with vulnerable youth in Rwanda for the past 10 years and becoming one of the youngest and most influential human rights activists in the region.

 

 

 

Program Overview

Gasana Mutesi has worked with vulnerable youth in Rwanda for the past 10 years, becoming one of the most influential human rights activists in the region.

Amani Africa is a grassroots organization striving to establish sustainable peace in Central African post-conflict communities by engaging young leaders in cross-cultural dialogue and providing opportunities to orphans and street children through education and training.

Gasana was born in a refugee camp in Uganda, where her family fled to escape the persecution of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda. She attended school in Tanzania and Kenya. Less than a year after the Rwandan genocide – a span of 100 days in 1994 during which nearly a million people were killed – Gasana's family decided to return to Rwanda. Shortly thereafter, both of her parents were killed by the Interahamwe, the local Hutu militia. At the age of 16, Gasana was left to care for her five younger siblings.

Gasana received a scholarship to the prestigious Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and attended classes while also working to support her siblings. While at university, she became very involved in human rights projects throughout the country and was one of the youngest women elected to the National Youth Council.

In 2001, Gasana began volunteering with Charles Nkazamyambi, a former Burundian Olympic athlete and genocide survivor who was drawing on his passion for athletics to reach out to street children in Kigali and form recreational sports teams. In 2003, unable to procure government or nonprofit support, Charles and Gasana used their personal savings to open an orphanage in a Kigali neighborhood.

Today, over 5,000 children in both Rwanda and Burundi participate in the Amani Africa activities on a weekly basis. Gasana and Charles have built up an association of over 70 young Rwandan volunteers who coach and mentor these teams every week. Their activities have expanded to include traditional dancing, drumming, and singing clubs, which perform at schools and events around the region. Amani Africa hosts regular conferences and workshops on human rights and peace-building with the goal of bringing together teenagers from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gasana and Charles also pay the school fees for over 250 orphans who would otherwise not be able to afford an education.

Charles and Gasana were married in 2002. They live in Kigali, Rwanda, with their six children, three of whom were adopted after the genocide, and four of Gasana's younger siblings.

Gasana is a founding member of the Network for Advocacy for Action and Sustainable Peace (NAASP) in Rwanda. She was selected to participate in the internationally acclaimed Women Waging Peace training program, which prepares young women to be leaders in the international human rights movement. While maintaining her commitments to human rights endeavors through Amani and the National Youth Council, Gasana worked for four years as the Public Relations Officer for the Rwandan National Institute of Statistics. However, she recently left this post to pursue Amani Africa's goals full time, focusing primarily on the construction of the new Amani Africa School and Center for Reconciliation in Nyamata, Rwanda.






   

Program Date & Time

04/23/08
7:00 pm

Admission

Free

Sponsors

Red Circle Sponsors

Norman & Mirella Smith