By Tosan Soremi
Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." For some, this is a dream, but for Elyse Ruest-Archambault, it's her reality.
In 2012, Elyse travelled to Rwanda to see the impact of our play-based games. Sports and activities are used by our Coaches as a learning tool to teach the one million children in our programs worldwide how to protect themselves from disease, to understand their rights and how to support one another.
As a gender specialist, Elyse wanted to ensure our play-based programs were accurately promoting gender equality and positive social change.
They were. Each Coach-guided game promoted leadership and teamwork, creating acceptance around understanding and differences, like gender. And all were teaching the children how to manage stress, resist peer pressure, communicate, make decisions, set goals, motivate and lead one another.
Using this hands-on experience, Elyse met with the teachers to talk about the local schools' gender-based challenges. "They were working through a lot of gender problems, such as teenage pregnancies," says Elyse. "Another problem was that one of the schools had gone through a natural disaster and was missing half of their roof."
Working with our local partners and Coaches, Elyse helped repair the roof. She also collaborated with the teachers to develop proactive messages addressing the stigma about the roles of girls in their communities.
Now, over 50 percent of the children in our programs, including in Rwanda are girls, while 50 percent of our Coaches are female. Inspiring numbers, considering our Coaches act as mentors to the children, ensuring the skills and attitudes learned through our programs are encouraged, practiced and become routine.
"I'm really passionate about gender equality and creating change," says Elyse. "Through my job and through the help of our partners, we are making a change and it adds up."
If Elyse's story inspires you, click here to learn how you can join our team.