What we can all learn from Rwanda's Ni Nyampinga journalists

Keisha-Monique Joseph is the deputy online editor at UK youth magazine Live Mag. She travelled to Rwanda to meet the Ni Nyampinga journalists and learn more about their mission to spread the girl effect even further.

In Rwanda, the girl journalists of Ni Nyampinga are the superstars. When they visit local schools they get the kind of welcome we'd give Rihanna. And they deserve it because they're redefining the role of girls in their community.
 
These young women make opportunities for themselves. They come up with the story ideas and they're the ones who see them through, from start to finish.
 
Together with a group of journalists from Live, the UK youth magazine, I travelled to Rwanda to share skills and experiences with the girls of Ni Nyampinga.
 
Ni Nyampinga is a magazine and radio platform dedicated to appreciating inner and outer beauty, and it maintains that all girls are born with both. The only magazine of its kind in the country, the name Ni Nyampinga loosely translates as "a girl who is beautiful inside and out and who makes good decisions", a mantra that we could benefit from here in the UK.
 
On our first day in Kigali working with Ni Nyampinga, not one of the local journalists jumped up for the copy of Elle magazine that I'd brought with RiRi on the cover. The Live magazine back issues, which had seriously weighed down my baggage allowance, caused much more of a fuss.
 
Girls in Rwanda aren't interested in the concept of celebrity; they're interested in people like them. Young people. Hard-working, normal people. People who are realistic role models.
 
During the week, we got right into the heart of the Rwandan community and saw the girls letting their hair down while also getting the job done. Journalism here is much more home-grown than in the UK, with young people wanting to know what's happening to other people like themselves across the country. And being 'the land of 1,000 hills', there's a lot to know.
 
We got stuck in with female drummers (a growing culture in Rwanda) and met a woman who turned her family's small-scale basket-making operation into a fully fledged business. It gave the women involved financial independence and attracted the attention and trade of American retail giant Macy's.

The Rwanda of 2013 bears little resemblance to the images [of genocide] that shocked the world in 1994.
 
What happened is still too difficult for a lot of people to talk about, and after visiting the memorial on our final day, the reality of what our new friends had faced in childhood was difficult to stomach. But Rwanda is so much more than what it was.
 
With friendship and harmony emphasised over difference, the power of the next generation of Rwandan women is a force to be reckoned with.
 
The journalists of Ni Nyampinga are spreading that power. Girls across the country already have parties at which they read the latest issue or listen to the national radio show.
 
Ni Nyampinga is changing the face of journalism and bringing people together in the process.
 
Read Keisha-Monique's blog for Live magazine
 
Discover the Ni Nyampinga story