Throughout the streets and along the lake shores, hundreds of unemployed youth can be seen gathering. But all is not as it seems, they are cleaning! These Burundian youth are led by their role-model, Queen Immaculee Abimana. Queen is a woman with a multitude of trades and skills under her belt – from livestock breeding to nursing to MC-ing! She is also the founder of Tube Heza: a grassroots, community cleaning project involving 100 youth in Kanyosha.
After completing her nursing studies at the Ecole Paramedicale de Gitega, Queen served for 6 months at the Muramvya Hospital as an intern before joining SPARK’s Peace Builders’ Leadership Academy.
She says her passion for community organising and youth came from her work as an MC. While interacting with different crowds, she found that young people looked up to her and she wanted to take on the responsibility for doing something good for these youth. During the leadership and business development courses provided by SPARK and BBIN, her voice was regularly the loudest – standing up for her peers or raising challenging questions to further equip the Peace Builders’ class of 2017.
As part of her activities at the academy, Queen led the youth of Kanyosha to develop an action plan to do something about their biggest community concern: dirt! Kanyosha sits on the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika, an African Great Lake. It is the world’s second oldest and largest by volume, freshwater lake.
“The majority of the people in our community”, said Queen, “are unaware of the benefits of living in a cleaner environment. Those who do are unable to keep it clean due to the lack public dustbins or laws to promote a clean environment in our area. This has an effect on the efforts being made to keep our lake clean. Not many are aware of its value and there is no initiative which unites youth in keeping our community clean.”
Queen galvanised the youth of Kanyosha, who spent months in 2017 cleaning their community every two weeks. Towards the end of the year, Queen organised a boat race with the youth of Kanyosha to celebrate the launch Tube Heza at the Olympic stadium in commune Muha, as well as attract new youngsters to the cause.
Today, Queen’s organisation – Tube Heza – as well as community cleaning, also offers workshops on the production of brown paper bags. This activity funds the production of public dustbins and furthers Queen’s mission to increase her community’s access to cleaning tools.
“We urge the youth to hear the echoes of progress. We call them to spend more time reflecting on their development instead of gossiping about the political sphere”.