They wanted to do something creative.
A group of young Rwandan men and women recently travelled all the way to India to participate in a global solar car building competition. With just minutes until the competition was to begin, the team was waiting with bated breath to see what would happen. The cars were lined up at the start when... Suddenly a wheel from the Rwandan car flew off! They quickly grabbed their tools, ran out onto the tracks and as the clock ticked they got to work to fix the car. What led this group of bright young Rwandans to build a solar car in the middle of India? Well, it all started when their university teacher encouraged them to work together.
At the Sinhgad Technical Education Society Rwanda in Kicukiro District, six girls and six boys came together to form the Ibaze Group. The university students joined hands to promote innovation and job creation. Before Ibaze Group was formed, the young Rwandans were working alone. But that changed when their teacher encouraged them to come together and showed them what they could achieve by working side by side.
Teamwork enabled Ibaze Group to create a car powered by the sun’s rays. Indeed, it was this very car that earned them third place in the global solar car making competition. Since then, the students have returned home and made a similar car to show their innovation to fellow Rwandans.
When they formed the group, the students decided that they wanted to do something creative. The very next day, they heard about a competition in India to make solar cars. With the help of their teacher, they sat down and put their heads together. “We came together and said, ‘Let’s participate in that competition’. We knew we had the knowledge,” said Wilson, one of the group members.
After their university helped with flights and accommodation, they arrived in India and began the hard work to build a solar-powered car. As part of the competition, they were given materials and started constructing the car. But just when they thought they were done, they discovered that the car wouldn’t start!
Samantha, one of the group members, smiled and told Ni Nyampinga: “It didn’t move and of course we panicked! Fortunately, we found the mistake, fixed the problem, and the car worked.” Hitting their target is a result of their teamwork, the group members affirm. “The creation of that car showed me the importance of working together because each one of us played a great role,” said Anne. Wilson says that working together with his Ibaze Group teammates has helped him to think deeply about a project, and give it the time and energy it deserves.
This is different from how he used to work: “I now take time to think twice about what I am going to do.”
Even though they managed to make a solar-powered car, it was not an easy experience. Arsene, who is the team leader, said that the day the wheel flew off the car is engraved in his memory. “I will never forget that day, not because the tyre flew off, but because of how we all came together to make sure the car joined the race again, and that we managed to win a trophy,” Arsene said.
As soon as they arrived back in Rwanda, they made another solar car with the help of their university. “We brought back the knowledge and expertise we gained in India, and we made another car. It took us about one and a half months,” said Wilson. Even though they were making the car for the second time, they faced some challenges: “The car is 80% local materials, but we still had to import the battery and the engine, and they arrived late,” Arsene said. “When we started, we were aware that we had embarked on a journey that was not simple, but we helped one another, and none of us made a backwards step,” Narcisse said.
The members of Ibaze Group encourage everyone to work together because it makes a big difference: “There is nothing as awesome as having people with whom you can share advice and thoughts. It’s a massive advantage,” Arsene said.
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