Rwanda: Youths must shun short-cuts to success


By (Kenneth Agutamba)

An incident happened this week that left us with a ‘197-dollar question’ (pun intended) to reflect on, as we head into the freedom week; how much have the youth learned from the young men and women that led Rwanda’s Liberation struggle, 25 years ago?

He has since changed it but my friend, AC Group’s Patrick Buchana had the perfect Bio on his Twitter profile; ‘I have grown up watching and learning from the men and women that liberated our country; now it is time to do my bit.’


Considering that every country has its own liberation story, the ‘197-dollar question’here is not meant for only Rwandan youths but every young African in their respective country.

The incident on Tuesday morning was disturbing to follow; young Rwandans in their thousands, gathered at the Convention Centre, responding to what later turned out to be a false-call with a vague promise of returning home with ‘$197 value bonus’ to qualified participants.


The ‘$197 value bonus’ which was misconstrued by most to mean ‘cash handout’ at the end of the workshop only to learn otherwise at the event, left many wondering how it was possible for everyone to get it wrong; or whether the vague messaging was deliberate to attract revelers.

I am avoiding to say more about the unfortunate eventon purpose; to deny the organizers possible prominence and credibility that comes with being mentioned in this reputed publication.


It is instead the lessons from the wrecked event that deserve being highlighted with prominence. The first lesson to draw being that, our youths are paying attention to the internet, searching for opportunities to learn and enterprise, to improve their personal financial situations.

That is a good thing and we should not in any way use it to conclude that Rwandan youths are ‘desperate for jobs and money’ as some attempted to spin in various social media chat threads.


As my colleague Thierry Gatete pointed correctly out in one of the twitter threads on the same subject, ‘money, let alone $197 would have excited anyone in most parts of the world’ regardless of unemployment rates in their respective countries.

Indeed, some of those that turned up were employed young people who took leave from their workstations to attend the event which they saw as an opportunity to earn a quick additional buck.


That however leads us to lessons of caution and responsibility. From the story of our country’s liberators, which we are celebrating this week, the youth should learn that there are no short-cuts to success and that they should treat with caution whoever shows up with such promises.

In consolidating the gains of their respective countries, African youths must not substitute reason with excitement especially in the face of dappled promises for quick success;such an attitude is not only a danger to national security but also jeopardizes personal destiny.


The story of the now rehabilitated Kizito Mihigo, the once young celebrated musical icon provides a classical example of what happens when young people swallow the bait of short-cuts to success.

Consolidating Rwanda’s liberation gain requires youth that are steadfast on reason and caution before engaging in actions that could end up jeopardizing their future.


“The liberation struggle that we participated in, has set the foundation for you to succeed and consolidate what we gained to take our country forward,” General James Kabarebe said in an address to the youth, during the Liberation week last year.

He added, “It’s the youth, in fact over 90 per cent, that were at the vanguard of our liberation struggle; for instance, His Excellency our leader Paul Kagame was only 32 years old; Fred Rwigyema was 33, and many others were in their 20s, youths, just like you.”


Here were men, whom at 30, had just helped liberate a country and almost immediately embarked on a new campaign to liberate their own to regain the dignity of having a nationality and a country to truly call home, to which they would dedicate their lifelong effort to developing.

As someone in my early 30s, Rwanda’s liberation story has always left me and colleagues in the same age-bracket, challenged and questioning our own contribution.


These are men and women who had proven their worth in battle and were assured of lucrative careers worth more than US$197, in a foreign country they had helped liberate; no wonder, many were already holding senior positions in different government departments.

It’s steadfast attitude and visionary wisdom even at their tender-age that informed the brave decision to embark on a military campaign whose victory was not assured; they overlooked ‘bonus values’ and short-cuts to success in a foreign country, to take the longer route to their vocation.


Today’s youth have an opportunity to not only learn but also continue the liberation struggle which is now in the reconstruction phase after attaining victory in the military phase. But it takes strong character and steadfast focus to stay the course.

The youth of Rwanda and Africa at large, should not be distracted by short-cuts to success because real success is toiled for but the joy from such victories is very much worth it. Stay focused; think and act as the liberated youth that you are! Accept a hand-up but shun handouts!



Rwanda: TVET: Empowering the youth with practical skills

By (Michel Nkurunziza)

In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the country was devastated in many ways including a lack of skilled labour and trainers in different technical fields. Those in the workforce had either been killed during the Genocide, while others, who had participated in the massacre, were either in prison or had fled the country.

The Ministry of Education developed the first Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy, adopted in 2008, to address the serious deficiencies in trained human capital for technical professions and meet the major objective of Vision 2020, to create a knowledge-based and technology-led economy.

The new policy led to the creation of Rwanda Polytechnic, approved by Cabinet in December 2017, which took over the TVET implementation role previously conducted by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA).


In 1994, Rwanda had five technical schools and a small number of vocational schools. By 2010, there were 69 TVET schools which have since increased to more than 360 TVET Centers with approximately 103,000 students.The number of graduate students increased from a few hundred in 1995 to 97,000 in 2018 and over 400,000 to date.

Electrical wheel chair for the handicapped

Rwanda Polytechnic has eight colleges designated as ”Integrated Polytechnic Regional Colleges” (IPRCs) which are: IPRC Gishari, IPRC Huye, IPRC Karongi, IPRC Kigali, IPRC Kitabi, IPRC Musanze, IPRC Ngoma, and IPRC Tumba. They offer Advanced Diploma & Diploma courses in different fields namely Civil Engineering, Irrigation and Water Engineering, Agriculture Engineering, Hospitality Management, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Tourism, Forest Resources Management, Mechanical Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, and Mining Engineering.

Training Centers in coveted skills have also been established like the Africa Digital Multimedia Academy (ADMA) created to equip students with the skills necessary to work in all areas of the digital media industry with the same degree of talent and resources as anywhere else in the world.

Rwanda Coding Academy is a model school that aims to produce, in a more sustainable manner, a pool of top-end experts in the field of software engineering in order to address the current shortage of software developers in the Rwandan market and the region.

Impact on labour market

Dr Eugene Mutimura, Minister of Education, says that the future is tending towards Hi-Tech and that the Polytechnic colleges established all over the country are aimed at positioning TVET as a very attractive course option for young people. “The National Strategy for Transformation 1 (NST1) has a target of ensuring that 60% of our young people are enrolled in TVET schools by 2024.”

Besides TVET Schools, the Minister strongly encourages all schools mainly tertiary institutions to provide more practical industrial orientated trainings

According to National Tracer Survey and Employer Satisfaction Survey for TVET graduates of the 2015/2016 academic year, employers are satisfied with the graduates. The survey showed that the employment rate within 6 months after graduation was 64.9% among TVET graduates and 75.2% among Polytechnic graduates. Most graduates in TVET schools and Polytechnics were satisfied with the quality of education at 72.4% and 76.6% respectively while employers’ satisfaction with graduates was at 78.2%.

Milk selling machine

Eng. Pascal Gatabazi, Director General, Workforce Development Authority, said that the research raised awareness of where improvement is needed to ensure that students are empowered with employable skills and entrepreneurship capacity. “This type of research is necessary and will continue because it is feedback that informs us of what measures need to be taken to ensure that the knowledge and skills that students acquire in TVETs and Higher Education institutions meet labour market demand.

We are allocating more resources to increase the capacity of teachers and availability of equipment and training consumables. It is our responsibility to help students to develop their entrepreneurial and innovative capacity and thus be able to scale up their innovations and become proprietors of small and medium enterprises that create jobs.”

Innovative skills

The growth in the number of TVET students has increased innovation. Students at IPRC-Tumba designed a hybrid system that combines power from utility grid and off-grid (solar system). The hybrid system has a solar power part with the capacity to generate 800 Watts that can supply electricity to 2 families in rural Rwanda.

They also developed a Smart Egg Incubator to incubate and hatch poultry eggs. This machine increases the productivity of poultry farming by incubating and hatching a huge number of eggs in a short time. The farmer can save more than 80% of their expenses.

IPRC-Tumba students also fabricated a Solar Water Heater which, over the years, has been continuously improved to attain higher levels of thermal efficiency and cost effectiveness. “We have to put much effort on innovations that can lead to rapid development,” said IPRC-Tumba Principal, Eng. Rita Mutabazi.

A smart egg incubator.

IPRC-Ngoma students built an electric wheelchair for the disabled to enable them to move freely in all directions, without expending much mechanical energy and reducing the need of a helper. They also built strong pavers made from recycled plastic waste and sand, used to pave different places such as pathways and parking spaces.

Dr James Gashumba, Vice Chancellor, Rwanda Polytechnic, said that TVETs were instituted to ensure that students were equipped with academic and work skills and also initiate a change in the mindset of students and parents regarding their view of occupations that require working with their hands. “Rwanda Polytechnic plans to carry out a national awareness raising campaign that will last one year, with the assistance of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, conveyed by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency. The campaign will be characterized by interactions with people who have made their mark in TVET, involve young people and social media to ensure that there is a lot of conversation such that by the end of the campaign young people who are gifted and creative and want to earn a good income will choose TVET instead of choosing TVET because they feel they are not intelligent enough. We want to change that mindset and are hopeful that we will.”

Rwanda: Burera youths warned against drug abuse

By (James Peter Nkurunziza)

The state minister expressed concern over the growing number of mental health cases

Youths from Burera District were on Wednesday warned against the abuse of drugs, reminding them of the repercussions that include loss of life, destroying life goals and lengthy prison sentences, among others.

This call was made by Agnes Mukagashugi, the Deputy Prosecutor General during an anti-drug abuse campaign held at Burera playground in an event that was organised by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

“Drugs are responsible for the big number of cases of mental health patients in the country,” she said to a large audience that consisted students from secondary schools from across the district and area residents.

The meeting was also attended by the State Minister Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, local government officials including the Governor of Northern Province, and security officials among others.

Mukagashugi reminded the youths – whom he said are the main consumers of drugs – that drugs do not only affect the individual consuming them but also the community they live in and also the country as a whole.

She noted that in 2015-2016, over 4700 cases were recorded and in 2016-2017, the numbers significantly increased to over 5,600 cases but due to the anti-drug abuse campaigns that started soon after these findings, the numbers reduced from to slightly over 4,000 last year.

Ndimubanzi also expressed his concern over the growing number of mental health cases resulting from drug abuse that the country is facing at the moment.

“As a ministry, we shall not tire from fighting drug abuse through such types of campaigns throughout the country,” he said.

The Minister also cautioned residents to always be on the lookout against individuals that are involved in the abuse of drugs or selling them, saying that communities are destroyed where drugs are allowed to thrive.

Meanwhile, Ndimubanzi cautioned everyone present to be cautious of the Ebola scourge that had as of Wednesday reached neighbouring Uganda where three cases had been confirmed.

He argued residents to maintain proper sanitation at all times and also report individuals with symptoms such as diarrhea, bleeding from different body parts such as ears, eyes and nose among others.

During the event, assorted drugs were destroyed in the presence of the residents.

Rwanda: Youth ministry targets 100,000 jobs in one year

By (Michel Nkurunziza)

The Ministry of Youth will help create 100,000 jobs for the youth in the next financial year, that starts August 2019 through July 2020, a cabinet minister has said.

Rosemary Mbabazi, the Youth minister, was on Friday speaking to Saturday Times in Kigali after emerging from a meeting with members of the Chamber of Deputies’ standing committee on national budget and patrimony that focused on the ministry’s budgetary allocation for the next fiscal year.

The Youth ministry was allocated Rwf1.9 billion for the next fiscal year, up from Rwf1.7 billion it received for the current fiscal year.

Considering that the budget is not sufficient, Mbabazi said, the ministry was looking into ways to mobilise more funding from other sources, including through projects running under the National Employment Programme.

NEP is backed by development partners.

“Our focus is on developing projects for the youth,” she said. “The top priority is to avail the youth opportunities to create jobs in agri-business, environmental protection, ICT, tourism and arts.”

She said her ministry will continue to support the youth with different talents to turn them into viable projects.

This, she said, will be done in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Culture and Imbuto Foundation.

“Last year we conducted talent auditions across the country, attracting about 2,400 youths with different talents part,” she said, in reference to the inaugural Art Ubuhanzi competition.

The talent search lasted for two months, ending in December 2018.

We identified about 600 youths that stood out, she said. “From these we selected 70 who went to the boot camp for specific trainings and we gave them about Rwf33 million in start-up capital to develop their talent,” she said, adding that this project shored up job-creation efforts.

Minister Mbabazi said that some of the talented youths were now working in cooperatives to promote Made-in-Rwanda products in fashion, film, cinematography and writing, among other areas.

“We will also incubate the others for six months after which we will link them to the industry,” he said.

She said the annual YouthConnekt contest was another avenue forjob opportunities for young people.

“We select three projects from each district and come up with 90 projects at the national level. So far, we have established a network of 626 youths who have all received awards,” she said. “They managed to create companies and have hitherto created 8,309 jobs for other youths,” she said.

And, next year, Mbabazi said, the ministry will roll out a new competition for TVET students, dubbed ‘TVET Challenge’. The idea is to help mobilise capital for TVET graduates so they can go on and create jobs, she said, adding they hoped the students will leverage their skills and innovations.

Environment is another area which the ministry intends to exploit to help create jobs for the youth, she said.

Over 2,500 jobs will be created under the Nyabarongo Rriver Catchment project and other green undertakings under the Youth Eco-Brigades initiative, the minister noted.

This is part of a broader strategy to encourage the youth to partake in efforts to protect the environment, she added.

“We have trained about 500 youths and 2,000 others will be prepared for this project as well,” she said. “We prepare them in a way that they embrace the saving culture and make use of financial institutions so that even after the project has folded they will be in position to continue running businesses and creating jobs,” she said.

Youth constitute about 70 per cent of Rwanda’s population, with 77 per cent of them living in rural areas.

Tackling unemployment, especially among the youth, is one of the top priorities of the Government, which has committed to creating at least 200,000 off-farm jobs annually.

Rwanda: The Youths Must be Taught to Preoccupy Themselves With Giving Back to the Community

By Christine Osae

With the ideology of ethnic hatred continually reinforced and disseminated to the general public through radio, television broadcasts, print media, and in public meetings, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi became inevitable.

The seeds had long been planted in our schools, churches and in the confines of our houses, and the vicious call to “weed out the cockroaches” was just the last nail on the coffin. Had all educators stood their moral ground in fighting genocide ideology, perhaps we would be telling a different story today.

In order to fully grasp the gist of this article, two things must be made clear from the onset: one, an educator is not just a teacher but anybody whose conscious or unwitting actions influence behaviour. This loosely translates to all of us- teachers, religious leaders, parents…Second, educators, in whatever capacity, are opinion shapers, the sower.

In all honesty, the media’s role in amplifying the fear and genocidal ideology that had already been planted and silently circulating throughout the Hutu population is indubitable. This begs the question: who had planted the seeds of doom way before the media took its toll on the matter? Of course educators: parents, teachers, you… If we are to effectively eradicate the genocide ideology, we must leverage the role of educators.

World over, educators are intellectualised as agents of transformative change in nation building, identity construction and peace and reconciliation by imparting values that espouse peace- including tolerance, recognition and respect, as well as a range of skills such as critical thinking, negotiation, compromise, collaboration and interpersonal relationships among learners.

Whether you know it or not, young people listen to what you say and read even what you do not verbalize. If education wasn’t such a crucial part of the puzzle, Rwanda would not have been able to rebuild and become a modern hub of progress and development, putting in place social, political and economic systems that are grounded in national unity and reconciliation – with education reforms playing a central role. It naturally follows that educators are still our best shot at combatting genocide ideology.

From ashes- dismantled institutions with a profound lack of qualified teachers, a huge pool of orphaned children, insufficient funds and inaccurate textbooks- Rwanda has slowly but surely transformed its education system from one based on standard rote memorization where seeds of hatred are sown, to one that inspires discussion and a spirit of critical thinking and analysis- an approach that seeks to redress the biases taught by the genocidal regime, as well as prepare young people to thoughtfully and constructively enter the workforce.

Additionally, it has worked tenaciously in training the teachers to impart knowledge using the right methodology. Why not calibrate everyone to the same footing in this fight?

That being said, apart from adhering to the curriculum in teaching aspects of genocide that have already been incorporated in various subjects, educators must also find ways to incorporate critical thinking, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. We must repeatedly proclaim peace and insist on the value of life. There is need to teach the youths economic values and lifelong skills on coexistence and sustainability.

The youths must be taught to preoccupy themselves with giving back to the community and making Rwanda a better country. Educators can easily help the youth achieve this because they are voices of influence in the society. Believe me, the media would have had nothing to flaunt around had the youths been anchored on a well-grounded mainstay!

The scars from the past are indelible; educators should steadfastly steer learners toward tranquillity; toward a developed country where humanity is sacred. We must do everything within our capacity and strength as educators to counter genocide ideology.

Source The New Times

Rwandese Youths Urged to Embrace Unity

By Peter Nkurunziza

The youth were Tuesday called on to embrace unity as it is the only way the country will be able to move forward and fully recover from the effects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The call was made by the Rwandan Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye during a Genocide commemoration ceremony at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.

“Many of you were born shortly before and after the Genocide, this means that most of us are stepping out of Rwanda if it can be compared to an organisation, and you youth, are now the majority shareholders,” he stated.

“There is no way the country will be able to move forward if you are still divided along ethnic lines”.

The event, dubbed ‘Our Past’, is held annually by youth as a way to pay tribute to those that lost their lives in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. According to one of the representatives of the organising body, Sick City, Christian Intwari, the event has registered significant growth since its inception in 2012.

“The numbers have greatly increased given the fact that we barely had above 400 youths in 2012 but participants keep growing, this year we had over 2,100 participants from within and outside Rwanda,” he told The New Times shortly after the event.

Christian Intwari further noted that some of their achievements over the past couple of years, include renovating five houses of Genocide survivors, and now they are embarking on a project of extending piped water to the houses.

One of the Genocide survivors, Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, narrated how he witnessed his father being killed, aunties getting raped, and other inhumane acts. He is currently moving around the country sharing his testimony.

A play showing how the Genocide was carried out, and the role played by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) to bring an end to the Genocide was performed. Shortly after, young trees, of the same species, were brought before the stage to represent the new Rwanda after the Genocide.

Source The New Times

Nigeria: Close to 50 trafficked girls rescued this year – RIB

By Jean de Dieu Nsabimana

With the increasing uptake of technology in the country, new crimes are emerging and the sophistication with which they are committed is on the rise.

Among these crimes is human trafficking.

Amidst this, Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) has called on parents to constantly engage their children about dangers of human trafficking and to not fall in traps that hundreds of youths have already fallen into.

According to Colonel Jeannot Ruhunga, the Secretary General of RIB, most of the victims are hoodwinked into believing that they are going for high-paying jobs and end up into slavery.

He was addressing residents of Rwamagana on Tuesday as part of the ongoing Justice Week.

This year alone, he said, the bureau counts 49 human trafficking victims, all girls, repatriated to Rwanda from different countries.

“Girls had been to different countries, especially in Gulf States such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia while others were from neighbouring countries, including Uganda,” he said.

The victims are duped into believing they would get lucrative jobs and end up in slavery instead, Ruhunga said.

This year, government has already helped 20 human trafficking victims back to the country from Kuwait, five from Saudi Arabia and “more than ten” from Uganda.

“All of them had left the country thinking that they would get good life. But these are lies they are fed by unscrupulous individuals who are part of the racket,” he said.

Many of the victims leave without the consent of their families and drop out of school and when they get to their destination, these middlemen confiscate their travel documents.

They then end up being sold into forced labour, slavery, or prostitution.

“In some cases, they are killed and dismembered and organs such as kidneys, liver, heart, and so on are removed,” he said.

He blamed the increase in the vice to technology where it has become easy to pick conversation with a complete stranger through social media platforms.

“One person sits here and communicates with somebody in China, who sends them fake pictures, promises them miracles, send them ticket, the girl or boy jumps at what they believe is an opportunity,” he said.

According to Ruhunga, the majority of public have not been sensitised about the vice but with partner institutions, they will step up the sensitisation.

Major actions have already been taken, he said, including increasing vigilance by border security personnel.

“Most of them are returned home after being stopped at the airport before they depart, because they have failed to give necessary explanations,” Ruhunga declared.

“She or he says ‘I am going to Cameroon,’ who do you know there?’Nobody,’ they say. Where exactly are you heading? They do not know. And then they eventually show you a number, and they say, ‘this person is my friend’. Where do you know them? ‘We talk often’, have you seen them? The answer is in most cases no,” he narrates.

In such case, the person is returned right away.

Then these people are linked with those that returned to educate them on the dangers of such journeys.

“They inform them how they fell in such trap and the consequences they faced,” he noted.

According to officials, there is an office in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion that has responsibility to link these people.

The Justice Week runs from March 18-22, intends to raise awareness about such emerging crimes as human trafficking and cybercrimes.

Source The New Times

Rwanda Government Seeks Partnerships to Roll Out More Youth Centres

By Marie-Anne Dushimimana

Among the services delivered at the youth centres include skills that help the youth to fight unemployment as well as some health services such as information, especially on reproductive health and HIV prevention.

The Ministry of Health will collaborate with more partners to increase youth centres across the country as it intensifies efforts to ensure that young people have easy and full access to reproductive health services.

This was revealed yesterday as the Ministry of Health held a meeting with 350 youth from 20 countries ahead of the second edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference. The three-day meeting, which starts tomorrow, will discuss Universal Health coverage.

Based on some indices like Community Based Insurance and health services given to Rwandans as a basic human right, Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, said that Rwanda is on the right track to achieving universal health coverage.

However, there was need to make some health services more accessible to young people.

“We want to increase this partnership. We now have 32 youth centres and we still have some districts which don’t have them. We want to increase the number of these centres to help the youth have easy and full access to these specific health services, especially concerning reproductive health,” she said.

Among the services delivered at the youth centres include skills that help the youth to fight unemployment as well as some health services such as information, especially on reproductive health and HIV prevention.

Dr Githinji Gitahi, the Chief Executive Officer of AMREF Africa, a health organisation working across Africa, said health achievements are not even across the continent and that each country has its own culture and norms, which influence health systems.

“We are asking ourselves the question of how young Africans who are the leaders of the future, as the majority people in this continent, how are they participating in making sure the universal health coverage is achieved and how is it responsive to the needs of this part of people, especially concerning reproductive health rights and access,” he said.

There is a necessity to identify the needs of young people and make sure they are included in making universal health access possible and that they are benefitting from it, he added.

Magnifique Irakoze, a medical doctor in Rwanda, said any decision or policy to be taken at any level should be implemented by the youth in order to raise their participation in policy formulation as early as possible.

“Young people don’t get sick easily but if they don’t take care of their health during their younger age, they can’t fulfil the roles they are given in the future,” he said.

Source The New Times

Rwanda: Why the focus is on the youth

By Nasra Bishumba

Rwanda has recorded significant progress in rebuilding and rehabilitating its citizens twenty-five years after the Genocide against Tutsi.

However, majority of the citizens still suffer the consequences of the atrocities.

Ahead of the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, The New Times’ Nasra Bishumba sat with the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean Damascène Bizimana, who reflected on the country’s 25 year journey towards recovery and priorities for the future.


Rwandans will this year mark 25 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi. Can you paint a picture of what the days leading up to the D-day; April 7 will look like in terms of what is lined up?

The preparation for the 25th Commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi is ongoing and in fact some of the activities have already started. Most of our activities are focusing on the youth, especially with regard to teaching them about history.

For instance, we have an exercise where we pick 500 youths from each province and the City of Kigali starting with January and this programme will end March. We are targeting 2,500 youths.

That activity, which we call “Youth, Know History”, involves the youths visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi and the Museum for the Campaign to fight against Genocide at Parliament.

After that, they are joined by experts who they ask questions regarding the country’s history, genocide and genocide ideology.

This helps them to go back in their homes, school and places of work with answers that they can share with their peers. What we are aiming for is that by the time of commemoration, we need these children, the youth to know what genocide is and how the country has rebuilt itself in the last 25 years.

We also provide public dialogues in secondary schools and universities and we look into fighting genocide, genocide ideology, and genocide denial plus the role of the youth in supporting national development.

We are also hoping that the 25th commemoration period is an opportunity to educate the world about our history on the international level, talking about the genocide and see how the world can draw lessons from our experience.

We will have an international conference in Kigali from April 4 to 5th and it will bring together about 500 experts, politicians, international organisations from all over the world.

We will also call on the youth to visit ‘Incike’ who are based in Huye, Nyanza and Bugesera districts to fetch from their well of experience on the values of heroism, patriotism, defending the country’s honour and resilience.

There will also be an activity to clean up memorial sites all over the country and that activity will end on March 30. They will be cleaned up by the youth who will even then be talked to about history at that time.

This year, there has been some changes regarding what is usually done in the commemoration week. Could you shed some light on the changes and what motivated them?

In the last two years, we have reduced the number of dialogues to three between April 7-13. This year, we are marking 25 years since the Genocide. That means that the grief has reduced and the country has been rebuilt.

That is the reason we always insist on “Remember, Unite, Renew” because when you are rebuilding, it helps people to continue working hard for the families, for tourists to continue flocking in and for the country to continue to get a source of taxes.

It’s for that reason that we have now reduced the dialogues to two; with one running on April 7 from 9am to 12pm. Then we will have another one that may be on April 10 in all villages and this will end what used to happen in the past, where business would come to a standstill.

If for example you have a company, you can decide to send a number of your staff there and the rest can continue working.

While government institutions, ministries and private sector used to pick a day out of the 100 days of commemoration to hold their dialogue, this year, they will pick one day out of the seven days running from April 7 to April 13 to do that.

The main focus is on this week and then people can work but also visit survivors and memorial sites at their own pace.

What is being done to incorporate Genocide studies as part of education programmes in Rwanda and beyond? There appears to be studies that only focus on previousgenocides. How can we add the 1994 Genocide against The Tutsi to modern day curriculum?

A lot has been done.Led by the Ministry of Education, stakeholders like CNLG, Aegis Trust a lot has been done but, most importantly, we were able to come up with a specific teaching guide which will give teachers the direction they need to start imparting this history lesson. We will start with secondary schools because we felt that children in primary schools are too young to grasp genocide related lessons.

The second most important step is to train teachers to be confident to teach about the genocide. There are teachers who fear delivering these lessons because their parents committed genocide crimes and they teach in the same districts where these crimes were committed. It is not easy to mention your family’s crimes.

Then we have teachers who are Genocide survivors who are still hurting deeply and find it difficult to teach this particular lesson. However, as years come and go, these educational guides are being used in universities and teacher training colleges and since they are young and were not involved in the genocide, it is becoming easier.

In the past, the teachers were directly connected to the history and this used to cause fear and it gives us hope now than ever before.

In the past, your office has said that genocide ideology was their biggest challenge. Where does the country stand right now and what has your office been doing to continue your mission to change mindsets? What are the current trends of Genocide denial and what do they show us?

We conduct research about genocide ideology every five years because it is within a number of years that you can quantify something. The last research was conducted in 2015 and it indicated that genocide ideology had reduced by 87.3 per cent and that is really a big per centage.

In another two years, we will conduct another research to determine where we stand. What is evident is that it has significantly reduced and other indicators that we usually rely on like how many court cases are filed per year have reduced.

One other highlight is that the genocide law drafted in 2013 regarding genocide ideology and other related crimes was amended and it made some articles that had loopholes clearer.

For example, there was an article that said that genocide ideology could be prosecuted only if it happened in public. This meant that if for instance someone sent a survivor insulting, hurtful and pain inflicting messages using a mobile phone, they would get away with it.

Right now, whether you use an SMS, WhatsApp or even email to send such messages are punished by a minimum of five years.

Then there was sensitisation done by different stakeholders like grassroots authorities, Ministries of local government and education, National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and CNLG all work together to conduct dialogues with the masses and over time, this has helped.

Good governance has also contributed to the significant reduction of genocide ideology. If the masses rights are being respected, they are getting what to eat, getting access to health facilities and those who want to study can study, and then you will have a population who are going to fight anyone whose ideology is not constructive.

Last year, you said that you were struggling with the lack of preservation experts to help you preserve remains of the Genocide victims. How far have you gone in terms of getting for the right skills to help with this?

Projects regarding preservation ofmemorial sites rarely get funding as compared to others like, for example, agriculture. This could be because donors have their own priorities but, for us, it’s important because the foundation of every country is its history and culture.

We applaud the Government for the effort that it puts in ensuring that memorial sites are taken care of. We have a Memorandum of Understanding with Germany’s Hannover and Hamburg universities who have experts, especially in the area of preserving bodies.

We started off with Murambi Memorial Site where they are using their expertise to gauge how much water and oils, among others, are involved to determine which remains will be preserved for a long time. On April 21, these experts will present the findings of their research and what we are required to do.

The German experts are also equipping Rwandans in the University of Rwanda’s Medical Faculty and others from the National Forensic Laboratory with the skills required to preserve the victims’ remains, clothes and others.

We also have a Memorandum of Understanding with the America’s University of Pennsylvania who send experts here and are currently working with Ntarama Genocide Memorial where they have spent two years training CNLG staff on how to preserve victims’ clothes. Preserving clothes also requires a lot and most of what is required is not available locally.

For instance, the chemicals used must be purchases from Thailand or Europe. They will also present the findings of their project in May. It is then that we will know what can be preserved and what must be buried.

The issue of trauma is still a challenge. What in particular is being done to deal with this issue, especially among the youth, some who were not even here during the Genocide?

A studyconducted by CNLG and the Ministry of Health which was released in December last year indicates that all Rwandans have a degree of trauma but those who survived the Genocide are suffering more.

There are also people who committed genocide who are struggling with trauma because they never expected to be held accountable for their actions. There are those who served their sentences and are genuinely remorseful because they have to live with the knowledge of their actions and it has caused them trauma.

Their children also face trauma because they have to deal with the fact that one or both their parents is in jail for committing such heinous crimes and also face the people whose families were slaughtered by them.

The survivors have obvious reasons why they are traumatised. They were hunted down, their families were killed, they have to live with both physical and emotional pain so it is understandable that during the commemoration period, trauma cases shoot up.

The issue of poverty also contributes to trauma. That is why working with other organisations, we strive to bring them together in cooperatives where they can have income generating activities but also find solace in discussing their issues with people with the same background because loneliness can also cause trauma.

We are working with Ibuka this year to conduct a survey to find out how much of the vast pieces of land owned by genocide survivors can be used productively so that they can benefit the owners.

The issue of children born out of rape continues to be a controversial one. Their parents continue to raise a complaint of those these children who are not being considered as bonafide beneficiaries of the Fund for Support to Genocide Survivors. Is there something you can say about that?

The first and most important thing people need to understand is that FARG helps Genocide survivors. This means that women who were raped during the Genocide are supported fully but let it be clear that the children that they gave birth to are not survivors because they were not here during the Genocide.

However, people need to know that these particular young adults are being supported through other means, especially at the grassroots level.

The ministries of Justice and Local Government, CNLG and FARG discussed this issue and it was decided that first, their number must be established.

What is really important is that the parents and children come to terms with what happened. There are those still in denial because some women who were raped and impregnated have failed to come to terms with what happened.

Some of these survivors have not told their children the truth of how they were conceived only for them to find out on their own, and again, bring about the issue of trauma. Talking to them about the value of being open about what happens is a continuous process.

Rwanda has slightly over 200 memorial sites. These have proved to be a challenge to maintain them, what is being done to address this?

A lothas been done.What we had before was one article in the 2008 law that talked about graveyards and memorial sites. However, in 2016, the law regulating memorial sites was enacted.

The law gave CNLG the mandate to care for the national memorial sites and the rest were left in the hands of districts. We have other memorial sites outside the country; three in Uganda and two in Tanzania.

They are a responsibility of the foreign affairs ministry. The fact changed how these sites were being cared for because they apportioned direct responsibility which was not the case before. Today, there is a budget for memorial site maintenance and that was not the case before.

On the other hand, we are waiting for a ministerial decree that details how some of the memorial sites, most which share a history can be combined for better maintenance.

Some of the sites are in complicated locations or in small places where even commemoration events cannot take place. However, from the area where they will be moved from, we will leave a monument talking about the history of that place can never be forgotten.

Over 900 arrest warrants have been issued for Genocide fugitives; however, only 23 have been enforced. Why is that and what do you have to say to the international community?

There are different reasons. First of all, it’s expensive. It requires them to send teams of people to Rwanda to conduct investigations and, in the end, they choose not to pursue it.

Then, you have cases of people who committed genocide but completly changed their identity, so tracking them down has been difficult.

Then there are countries that are not so keen on doing anything about these perpetrators at all. What was done was to continously call on international organisations to fight impunity, to pursue the suspects and to enact laws to fight and punish genocide.

So far, the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council, the African Union, the European Union have all adopted these laws. What remains now is to push them to deliver.

Most countries, especially in Europe, did not have laws to punish genocide crimes committed by a foreigner on foreign territory. However, we also encourage them to extradite the suspects if they can’t try them.

What message do you have for Rwandans and the rest of the world during this commemoration period?

Remembering what happened is deeply painful and while we must remember our loved ones, I call upon everyone to remain strong, to look at the bigger picture and not to allow the pain to consume our lives. It is important for us to come together to build a united country because this nation belongs to all of us.

The second message I have is for adults who continue to poison children’s minds. When we visit schools to talk to these youngsters, they ask us many questions, some which are laced with hatred, segregation and genocide ideology.

There are things that a 10-year-old cannot know unless someone has told them. I am calling on adults who are imparting this kind of damage in our children to stop this because hatred has never bore good fruits. What these children need to know is love, peace and justice.

Source The New Times

Youth sensitized on fighting cancer Stigma in Rwanda

Dr Rubagumya (centre) explains to the audience, as cancer survivor Karen Bugingo (right) looks on. Emmanuel Kwizera.

By Hudson Kuteesa

There is a lot of stigma surrounding cancer patients both during the treatment process and survivorship, a situation that needs more sensitisation among people, according to experts and survivors.

The survivors and experts were speaking on Friday at the Kigali innovation village in an event organised by Rwanda Children’s Cancer Relief, a non-profit organization focusing on raising awareness of childhood cancers.

In 2018, according to world health organisation, Rwanda had 10,704 new cases of cancer, with cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers being the most rampant.

Although statistics about cancer stigma are not available, Dr. FideleRubagumya, a Clinical Oncologist at the Rwanda Military Hospital, said many people are ignorant about cancers, and this contributes to stigmatization of patients.

Rubagumya said he has encountered patients that were facing stigma during his practice as a doctor. Due to ignorance about cancer, he saw some lose partners; while others were stigmatized by relatives, among other things.

He shared a story of a young woman, a cancer patient, who refused to have surgery on her breast because she feared that her husband would leave her.

“I explained to her that we were going to give her chemotherapy, after which we would carry out a surgery to remove the tumour. She took the chemo, but refused the surgery because she feared that her husband would go,” he said.

“Because the chemo had made the tumour shrink, she thought she was cured. She went home. After four months, she came back with a huge mass. By this time, I heard that the husband had already left her,” he added.

According to Rubagumya, cancer patients go through such stigma. In some cases, some get isolated due to the ignorant belief that the disease is contagious.

Yet, he said that stigma can even spread more during survivorship, where for instance, spouses separate because one of them discovers that another is a cancer survivor.

Karen Bugingo, a cancer survivor, and author of “My name is Life” said that many people don’t understand survivorship, and they tend to ask a number of questions concerning their normality,

“Some people ask me, ‘Are you really cancer free?’” she said.

“People don’t understand when I tell them that I don’t take any medicine now, I don’t need any pill before going to bed,” she said.

Bugingo was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in 2012. Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body.

Despite being at stage four (the last stage of cancer) she was able to heal and seven years later, she is sensitizing people about cancer.

She said that the best way to recover from cancer is having hope that you will be well. For her, you need to be mentally strong, and not lose hope as you fight for your life,

“People talk many things about cancer. They say its incurable, and if you have it you are going to die. However, I am a living testimony that someone can be free from cancer. I am a survivor, and if survivors are there, the cure is there” she said.

Bugingo added that believing in God was very important during and after her sickness. She said it helped her to keep hope during the sickness, and she says she developed a good relationship with God even after recovering.

DeodatusRubayita, one of the youth who attended the event admitted to knowing little about how to behave around a friend or a family member suffering from cancer.

Bugingo said the best way to act when you are around a cancer patient is not to treat them as a fragile people, but rather as just normal, as if nothing has changed,

“They also need to have that sense of normality,” she said.

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Source The New Times