Happy: In Real Life

Part One: Emile Kayitare’s Empower the Future Foundation: Rescuing Street Kids, Empowering Women, and Transforming Rwanda

In the heart of Africa, amidst the lush landscapes and capital city of Rwanda, a remarkable man named Emile Kayitare is leading a charge to reshape the lives of street kids and empower women through the “Empower the Future” foundation. I’m honored to count Emile as one of my dearest friends and to share his work with the world. Over a period of about 9 months, I traveled to Rwanda four times to assist one of Utah’s wealthiest giving families with a humanitarian project that had stalled. On each of my two week trips I worked closely with Emile and became aware of his giving nature and talented mind.

His compelling vision and relentless dedication is effecting profound change in the lives of those who need it most.

Emile Kayitare, Doug Richens, Breanne Ndayambaje in Kigali, Rwanda

This article delves into the incredible work of Emile Kayitare and his foundation, highlighting the rescue of street kids and the education and skills development of women in Rwanda. I’m so grateful to know him!

Unstoppable: Emile Kayitare

Emile Kayitare, a native of Rwanda, is a man with a mission. His journey as co-founder of the “Empower the Future” foundation with co-founder Breanne Ndayambaje began with a deep understanding of the challenges facing the most vulnerable members of his society. Emile was born in a country still reeling from the scars of the 1994 genocide. Emile’s early life was marked by hardship and adversity that can hardly be believed. He was determined to change the narrative, not just for himself, but for countless others who faced similar struggles.

Emile’s own experiences have fueled his passion for social change one soul at a time. He understood that education was the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and despair. With this realization, he embarked on a mission to make education, job skill training accessible to all, especially those often left at the fringes of society.

On one occasion, Emile and I were traveling about an hour outside of the capital city of Kigali to visit the infamous genocide perpetrator prison of Rwamagana. In route, we stopped at a Nyamata Genocide Memorial site. It’s an overwhelming experience where you stand in the small chapel where thousands fled for safety only to be slaughtered by neighborhood friends, trusted teachers and even pastors. My emotions surged as I searched for the ability to comprehend the series of events that lead to mass murder that took place at that site. And to my rescue was Emile. His words and wisdom surpassed my expectations as he walked me yet again through the history and meaning of that now holy place. I learned that the only way for Rwanda and for each of us to move on is to simply press forward. To learn from the past as we press into a new and better future. A few hours after our visit to Nyamata I stood in the Rwamagana prison surrounded by inmates in the pink uniforms that indicated their conviction as genocide perpetrators. It was in large part to Emile that my heart softened towards them and I was motivated to provide the needed support to help them rebuild their lives.

Rescuing Street Kids

One of the most compelling aspects of the “Empower the Future” foundation is its dedication to rescuing and rehabilitating street kids. In many countries, these children are forgotten and neglected, left to fend for themselves in the harsh realities of life on the streets.

Emile’s foundation seeks out these children, offering them a lifeline to a better future. The foundation provides a safe place, nutritious meals, healthcare, and, most importantly, access to quality education. These children, who had once been condemned to a life of poverty and potential crime, are given a second chance to thrive and contribute to society.

One of the foundation’s success stories is that of Jean, a former street child. Jean, who had never stepped inside a classroom, is now attending school and excelling in his studies. His transformation exemplifies the potential within every child when given the opportunity and support.

Doug Richens, Emile Kayitare and kids at the Empower the Future Foundation

Educating and Empowering Women: The Backbone of Progress

Empowering women is a cornerstone of “Empower the Future.” Rwanda has made significant strides in gender equality in recent years, and the foundation is actively contributing to this positive shift. Women, who have often been marginalized and denied access to education, are given the tools and job skills to improve their lives.

The foundation offers a range of programs, including vocational training, parenting and entrepreneurial support. Women who once lacked the means to provide for their families are now acquiring skills and knowledge that enable them to generate income and support their households.

Three cheers to the Stirling FoundationGray Space Experts, doTERRA and many others for helping Emile, Breanne and their team have the financial resources to fulfill their mission.

The Ripple Effect of Empowerment

The impact of the “Empower the Future” foundation extends far beyond the immediate beneficiaries. As rescued street children grow into educated and responsible citizens, they become agents of change within their communities. By empowering women with education and skills, the foundation contributes to strengthening the social fabric of Rwandan society.

The empowerment of women is not confined to economic independence alone; it extends to their active participation in decision-making processes, community development, and raising the next generation of leaders. On my many trips to Rwanda I’ve met with dozens and dozens of amazing women leaders with government and private organizations. This NPR report speaks volumes to the power of women to reshape and restore a nation. As women are empowered, they serve as role models for their children, shaping a future where gender equality is the norm.

The Challenges and Triumphs

Emile Kayitare’s journey to create and sustain the “Empower the Future” foundation has not been without its challenges. Adequate resources, from funding to volunteers, are vital for the foundation’s continued success. Additionally, the deeply ingrained cultural and societal factors that perpetuate the marginalization of street children and women present obstacles that require time and dedication to overcome.

However, the foundation has made remarkable strides. Their success stories, like that of Jean, continue to inspire others and attract support from well-wishers who recognize the transformational power of education and empowerment.

The Road Ahead: Expanding Horizons

The “Empower the Future” foundation’s work is far from over. Emile envisions a future where the foundation can reach even more street children and empower more women. This vision is rooted in a deep commitment to leaving no one behind, ensuring that every child has a chance for a better life and every woman can achieve her dreams.

To achieve this, the foundation is actively seeking partnerships, donations and support from both local and international organizations. Collaborative efforts will enable the foundation to expand its reach and impact, ensuring that Emile’s vision of transformation becomes a reality for more individuals in Rwanda.

Conclusion: A Beacon of Hope

Emile, his team and all those who support the “Empower the Future” foundation serve as a beacon of hope in the heart of Rwanda. Their unwavering commitment to rescuing street kids and empowering women through education and skills development is reshaping the lives of countless individuals, fostering a brighter and more inclusive future for the country.

As the foundation’s work continues to bear fruit and inspire others, it stands as a testament to the transformative power of education, empowerment, and unwavering dedication to a better world.