Vedaste Ndayambaje, 28, is the Rwanda Country Director for MindLeaps, a non-profit organization that uses dance to build cognitive skills among vulnerable children living in developing countries. His journey from a refugee student at Kepler Kiziba to an influential young leader in Rwanda’s social sector is a testament to the power of education and transformation.
Launched in 2015, Kepler’s campus in the Kiziba Refugee Camp in the Western Province of Rwanda, was one of the first programs to provide access to fully accredited university degrees in a remote camp setting. The program equips learners to explore expanded employment opportunities.
Ndayambaje, a beneficiary of this program, has been able to transcend the limitations often associated with his status. He is a proud alumnus of Kepler Kiziba, having graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, Concentrating in Business. This degree was earned through the partnership between Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and Kepler.
“Kepler Kiziba was a turning point in my life. I got the opportunity to pursue higher education and ultimately developed a sense of purpose and direction,” shared Ndayambaje.
Kepler’s innovative and comprehensive curriculum equipped Ndayambaje with a diverse set of 21st-century skills. Among these, problem-solving and computer literacy have been particularly influential in his professional journey.
“Kepler’s curriculum is designed to foster critical thinking and digital competence,” Ndayambaje explained. “These skills have been instrumental in my role at MindLeaps. They have enabled me to navigate complex challenges and leverage technology to enhance our impact.“
In 2019, Ndayambaje joined MindLeaps as a dance trainer and served as the lead trainer at the Kiziba Refugee Camp. Two years later, in 2021, he took on the role of Education Coordinator at MindLeaps’ Jim Bell Centre in Kigali, Rwanda.
As the Country Director at MindLeaps Rwanda, Ndayambaje guides the strategic direction of the organization, oversees program implementation, and leads a dynamic team of coordinators, trainers, supplemental assistants, volunteers and top students to ensure that all the activities are aligned with MindLeaps Global Mission. His hands-on approach and empathy towards the communities he serves have fostered an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.
Since he took on his role in 2022, he brought a unique set of skills, knowledge, and experiences from his background at Kepler. With a deep understanding of the power of dance for cognitive development, Ndayambaje strategically expanded the organization’s reach and impact. Through effective program management, Family Strengthening, Digital Literacy, youth empowerment expertise, and strong leadership, he optimized resources, secured additional funding, and built a dedicated team. In 2023 alone, MindLeaps was able to serve 1,159 youths and parents, a 23% increase from the previous year.
Ndayambaje has skillfully expanded the organization’s network by facilitating successful exchanges between various locations across the country, fostering an atmosphere of shared learning and collaboration. His immersive journey through different MindLeaps locations has provided him with an in-depth understanding of the diverse community needs, which he’s used to shape the programs to be more effective and relevant.
“Through my visits, I’m able to exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from the unique perspectives of our teams and the communities we work in,” Ndayambaje explains. “It’s a continuous journey of learning and improvement that drives our work forward.”
Looking towards the future, Ndayambaje has a clear vision for his career and the impact he hopes to make. In the next five years, he sees himself driving further growth and influence of MindLeaps, not only in Africa but also worldwide.
His aspirations extend to influencing policy around education and youth empowerment in the African continent. He aims to leverage his role and experiences to advocate for innovative, inclusive, and effective education policies that cater to marginalized and disadvantaged youth.
Since its inception in 2013, Kepler has been committed to developing an effective pathway for marginalized and economically disadvantaged youth to exit poverty. Ndayambaje’s success story demonstrates how education can empower individuals to rise above their circumstances and create positive change, regardless of their background.