Parlement des Jeunes Rwandais (PAJER) is a national civil society organisation working with local community based groups across Rwanda. The organisation has been in existence since 2000. PAJER was founded with the aspiration of promoting peace and co-existence through debate and dialogue, using a holistic development approach to enable communities to live together peacefully by improving their economic status. Its interventions comprise of economic development, humanitarian response, and youth programs.
Focusing on youth empowerment and micro-finance activities through the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) initiatives, PAJER empowers young people by giving them advice, support and advocacy and developing youth clubs, youth enterprises and businesses. PAJER’s approach and expertise relies on its staff’s proficiency to mobilise groups of individuals and guide them in the formation of clubs, which will grow independently, building a sense of ownership and the sustainability of the projects. By raising awareness, providing training, and organising a variety of socio-cultural activities, PAJER allows beneficiaries to get the knowledge and skills to adopt new behaviours, participating in their personal and social development.
Within several districts in Rwanda, PAJER is implementing the VSLA methodology, which regularly brings together 25 to 30 people to save money. Through this, members of the group can broker a small loan to set up or invest in their business and can also benefit from a social fund, which acts as an emergency insurance scheme. So far, PAJER has developed and supported 795 VSLA groups, involving 23,850 members out of which 80% are women. PAJER has also started the first VSLA group for deaf young people in the Muhanga District.
The scope of PAJER’s activities has grown to include humanitarian programs and health campaigns in various refugee camps and rural communities across the country. Since 2012, PAJER has been working in Kigeme refugee camp, partnering with the World Food Program, UNICEF and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. At first, PAJER’s work focused on food and non-food item distribution and organising education programs, events and work activities for the many young people living in the camp.
PAJER’s responsibility has now evolved into managing the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities in the camps. This includes the water supply, building and maintenance of sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion campaigns. Responding to the Burundian refugee influx that started in April 2015, PAJER has been involved in WASH programs of several reception and transit centres, and sanitation and hygiene in Mahama refugee camps. Providing a rapid and effective response to the needs of refugees , the organisation has gained the trust of its partners and donors and recognition for its hard work and dedication.
PAJER has developed partnerships with different institutions including: UNCEF, UNHCR, Imbuto Foundation (Rwandan First Lady’s initiative) and Plan International.