The New Times (Kigali)

1 May 2012

Rwanda: Serena Hotel Hosts Genocide Survivors

SATURDAY, April 28, marked the fourth time that Serena Hotel has contributed towards the memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The hotel organised a "Walk to Remember" in commemoration of the Genocide.

Over 200 people - comprising Genocide survivors, local authorities, Serena Hotels Country Manager and staff, as well as the hotel guests - walked two kilometres from Kigali city centre to Kigali Serena Hotel. The walk was followed by a time of reflection and testimony with speeches by representatives of CNLG, FARG Umudugudu, and Abahumurizanya Association.

The commemoration programme concluded with a presentation of donations from Serena, which included three cows and a check of Rwf3 million, to be shared among the three groups.

"We did the walk to draw the attention of the public so that they can get to understand the need for this commemoration," said Charles Muia, the Country Manager of Serena Hotels Rwanda, "So that such an act may not take place again."

Since February 2007, Kigali Serena Hotel and Lake Kivu Serena Hotel have been part of the five-star Serena Hotels chain that trades under the name Tourism Promotion Services Group with a presence in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Mozambique.

"This time round, we have done [the commemoration] a bit differently," said Muia, "This is the total Serena, all the staff in Africa, who have donated the three million (francs). We feel that from now on, it will be a Serena-Africa affair, and it can only grow bigger."

Serena Hotels Rwanda has consistently supported three groups: the FARG Umudugudu (Lake Kivu Association), CNLG, and the Abahumurizanya Association. In addition to providing for basic needs through the donation of foodstuffs and linen, Serena also invests in human capital.

"We take students from these groups and educate and train them within our hotels. We employ them," said Muia. "Over the last four years, we now have nine permanent employees and between four to five trainees in waiting."

Muia sees Serena as an investor in the country with a responsibility to give back to the community.

"We want to be fully integrated into commemoration activities, we want to be seen as supportive to the government and its activities because it is a national affair that occurs every year," said Muia, "We want to be fully part of it."

Looking ahead, Muia hopes that more people will recognise that small actions can lead to greater impact. "Genocide survivors that we support, contribute 20 per cent to go back to the other survivors who are in the village," said Muia.

"These are the people who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow and once you plant that seed remember that that person is going to support another."

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