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Vanessa Ishimwe

YIDA (Youth Initiative for Development in Africa)
Year Selected
Age at Selection

Vanessa is a Rwandan national who grew up in Kyaka refugee Camp in Uganda, where she moved to at the age of 9. Despite facing enormous economic challenges that meant her schooling was always interrupted, Vanessa’s tenacity earned her a scholarship to resume her studies in 2016.

Having experienced the challenges of trying to access education in the refugee camp, Vanessa decided she wanted to do something to bring opportunity to young people living in Refugee camps. She started her organization, Youth Initiative for Development in Africa (YIDA) to engage young people in education, entrepreneurship and leadership initiatives that can broaden their prospects for a better future.

Her initiative is aimed at the almost 20,000 young people in the camps, many of whom cannot access a quality education in the refugee schools which are oversubscribed and under-resourced.

YIDA bridges the gap by providing free Early Childhood Education to refugee children through special learning centres and schools. The organization has so far opened 3 learning centres that have educated 317 children, while also employing 18 refugee youth as teachers.

Over the next 5 years, Vanessa hopes they will be able to educate as many as 2000 refugee children and expand into adult learning and  university placement for older youths in the camp.

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