My name is Anne, I am a Girl Guide from Senegal and YESS participent based in Rwanda. I am a passionate Girl Guide, ,I was a leader of girl guides in my parish back at home. The idea of applying for the YESS GIRLS MOVEMENT Programme has never crossed my mind. As Senegal is a French speaking country, I felt so shy to apply because I was not confident enough in speaking English but I was reassured by former YESS participants that language is not a barrier. A few weeks after my application, I was contacted by a national commissioner who told me that I had been selected to go to Rwanda.
Being selected surprised and frightened me at the same time. Questions like am I up to the task? Am I ready to break away from my routine? Came into my mind. I was going to have the opportunity to travel and to know more about culture diversity but the fact that it was so hard for me to break away from my routines and start embracing the opportunity made it was very difficult for me to adapt to the preparatory course schedule, I still had doubts about myself and wanted to drop out of the program but one day after talking to my mum, she told me that she trusted in me and from that moment everything became smooth and fast for me, I got then the courage to start getting ready for the new adventure. Few days later it was time for the bird to fly, I was so excited to travel on a plane to Uganda
We arrived in Uganda with a lot of energy, ready for the NOREC youth camp. My colleague and I directly started to make friends and more participants arrived, more I realized that a great experience was waiting for me. The Camp was incredible! Instructive, fun, relational, a very valuable cultural exchange. I developed beautiful relationships with beautiful people forever etched in my heart. I learned that prejudice should not exist; it’s better to learn to make up your own mind about things and no matter what happens, never let life’s circumstances change who you are unless you want to. It could not end that way, we still needed to be ready enough, then WAGGGS preparatory just kicked off. So different from what we started on, engaging and interactive with a lot of interesting activities. It prepared us for our exchange life and tasks. It took us to another level of cultural development, an acquisition of maturity and knowledge.
We were welcomed by AGR and its members. A very organized and dynamic association with really warm and passionate guides. I discovered gentle and hard-working people, who despite the tragedy of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, knew how to get up and face life with a lot of love.
We have moved a lot, and the Association des Guide du Rwanda had already put everything in place. Going to the field was my favourite part of the exchange, especially the Free Being Me session because I had never done it before. I understood that you can easily get someone to love and accept herself. I could see a progressive self-confidence on the girls’ faces during the session, it was magical.
Everything was going well until the outbreak COVID-19 pandemic. It was so difficult to get used to the new normal, working from home, 1 meter distance and no more hand shake. We found ourselves locked up for 2 months. Personally it affected me a lot because the pandemic was growing in my country, my family was far away from me, I had practically nothing to do to occupy my mind. Fortunately, my host association together with team WAGGGS came up with the brilliant idea of a challenge and other activities that boosted our creativity and kept us busy. I also took the opportunity to reflect on my future, to build my ideas and today I am working on a beautiful social project: “a women’s shelter in Senegal”. Now things have gotten better in Rwanda and we have resumed our travels by taking all the necessary measures.
This exchange is magical. It’s an experience to be lived absolutely. I learned to be more professional thanks to AGR, I developed my knowledge in graphics and design, I met a mentor who accompanies me in my project construction, I learned new cultures and gained sisters from other countries, I have grown mentally, professionally and my English level has evolved a lot, that’s my big achievement.