A young Rwandan artist wins the Youth with Refugees Art Contest
“Rain of love is enough (in the fighting against the virus). You do not need money or expensive devices. Your ideas and love can make the biggest difference.” – Faida, 20
Kigali, Rwanda. Faida Gaston, a 20-year-old Rwandan digital artist, was chosen among 2,000 participants from 100 countries to be a global winner of the Youth with Refugees Art Contest, an international youth competition launched by the UN Refugee Agency to illustrate that everyone counts in the fight against COVID-19, including refugees.
Like hundreds of youth [between 12 and 25 years old], Faida joined the art contest to share his ideas on how to get through the COVID-19 situation. “The message of my drawing is that rain of love is enough. If the whole world shares love with refugees and for the people in need, we will be able to face the situation together,” he said, “Anyone can share their love, and that will be enough to stay strong together.”
Faida always has people around him who witnessed the refugee life as part of Rwanda’s history. This makes him feel close to people who have had to flee their homes. He said that much love from people all around the world is needed for refugees to stay strong and bring changes to their lives.
“Refugees also need to feel happy, and love will be the key to that. If I can care for refugees, any other Rwandan can do. You don’t have to spend much money, or you do not need expensive devices – it’s what is in your heart that can change the situation,” he said.
Refugee life is harsh, but there is still a way to remain optimistic. Faida also encouraged refugee artists and youths to use their talent and convey their message.
“If you have talent, there is a reason. If you are drawing with your heart, it can send a message to other people and touch other people’s hearts. This can be the start of making changes,” he said.
Faida is hopeful that he will be able to interact with refugee young artists in Kigali and encourage others to stand with refugees from his experience.
Rwanda had hosted refugees for over two decades. The country currently accommodates a total of 149,149 refugees and asylum seekers living in 2 urban areas, 6 camps, and 3 transit centers including the Emergency Transit Mechanism center in Gashora. Out of this population, 51.5% are from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 48% from Burundi.
As of 22nd July 2020, Rwanda had 806 active cases of COVID-19, including 11 in the refugee population. The Government of Rwanda continues to take various measures to prevent further spread of Coronavirus. Similar precautionary measures have been put in place in refugee camps in collaboration with UNHCR and its partners to prevent the spread of the virus amongst the refugee population.