My name is Aina Cédrine FANAMBINIRINA, I am a young leader coming from Madagascar, more precisely a unit leader of Fanilon’i Madagasikara association, in my home country.
My story as a YESS participant started the day I saw a post calling for participants on the official page of my association with the photos of the YESS alumnae. After reading the criteria and the countries involved in the exchange I immediately applied because I am very interested in learning and gaining experience. Leaving my home to experience an adventure with people I did not know ignited my attention. The selection procedure was not easy because there were many applicants. But, I learned that success is always based on self-confidence and the courage to face it. In fact, it is through all these, plus my experiences that I got to share the roof with many people. Above all, I was happy to go to Rwanda because I had heard a lot about the country previously.
In January 2020, I left my country to start my discovery adventure. It’s the first time I’ve been away from home for a long time and I’ve always whispered in my mind that “I could do it!!!”Arrived in Uganda, I saw my team for the first time in the NOREC Camp and I started chatting and spending time with a few of them to build the expected relationship. The collaboration continued at the preparatory courses with WAGGGS which was only with the Guiding family. It was a pleasant moment and the word “bored” never exists in Guiding, everything is vibrant and with joy. During the WAGGGS sessions I spent time with my team and with others for breaks. We got to know each other, to exchange ideas and above all to think about how we will lead our lives together during the coming six months. Regarding the Rwanda team, we created guidelines based on the character of each.
After the preparatory courses, we flew to Rwanda and the landing marked the core and the goal of the adventure. Already we knew that Rwanda is one of the developed countries of Africa with a strict organization. What attracted my attention was to see the country of a “thousand hills” all clean without waste or plastic in the streets with young people well dressed and active but especially occupying positions at the head of companies, I even had impression that I am not in Africa. At our YESS home, life with a big team is not easy but we do our best to get along with each other. For us collaboration and mutual aid is important because whether we want or not we are under the same roof so each one must improve their sense of listening and understanding towards others to make peace prevail. We work with Association des Guides du Rwanda which is a very organized association in its functioning. Our coordinator tries to give as much support as possible in our activities and always help us in facilitating the realization of our projects. Also, guides of Rwanda are so friendly; they advise us and assist us during the YESS activities on field. My favorite activity is recruiting because it allows me to be close to the girls, to make them see my adorable world and recruits them in the guiding family.
Participating in the exchange from home is like leaving the comfort zone to another new planet. We sometimes miss voices of loved ones, especially during the lockdown, knowing that everyone spends it in family while we are far from home. Although, we never gave up because we are a small family and we chose to participate in the YESS program. Even so, life during COVID-19 is difficult because we have even changed our way of life, we cannot go out and all our activities have stopped. We were able to adapt to a new life and face a new survival experience until we knew how to maintain finances during the period of shortages. A new life, other programs!
To conclude, the YESS program helped me a lot to see the world in different ways. Being inspired, I want to make changes and realize the project for women and girls empowerment that I got in Rwanda. So, I appreciate so much my journey of a life time because it brought me a lot and made me grow, and as the proverb said “to travel is to grow”.