As the world celebrated Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday by dedicating 67 minutes to help others, the South African community in Rwanda yesterday also joined residents of Rutongo in Rulindo District and refurbished a children's home.
The day was instituted by the United Nations in recognition of Mandela's 67 years serving his community, country and the world. The South African community in the country participated in the developmental activities and helped beautify a children's home near Rutongo Mines in Rulindo District.
According to the Chargé d'Affaires (Counsellor) at the South African High Commission, Lara L. Swart, the team is inspired by the example of the Mandela Day theme; "Take Action. Inspire Change. Make Every Day a Mandela Day."
He said the day shares the same experience of Rwanda's peace, unity and reconciliation instilled after the genocide.
"We want people to develop Mandela's life in their every day life, changing communities and ensuring that their actions have lasting effects," Swart said.
Some of the residents who talked to this paper said whenever they hear Mandela story, they are inspired.
"I am always encouraged whenever I happen to listen to Mandela, he's really a role model one requires in his day to day life," a Rutongo resident said.
Another resident said: "All achievements I have managed to realise, it's because of Mandela's spirit. I am proud of him, and his life is changing the world. I wish him a happy birthday."
The South African community after 67 minutes of painting the children's home were joined by the residents to sing a happy birthday song to Madiba as he is fondly referred to.
In 2009, the United Nations agreed to commemorate Mandela's birthday every year to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's contribution to resolving conflicts and promoting race relations, human rights and reconciliation.
On this day, volunteers carry out tasks including building houses, feeding the poor and cleaning schools.
On Mandela's birthday, the UN calls on people to take responsibility in making the world a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mandela did.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years by the country's white minority government for resisting apartheid rule.
On his release in 1990, he led negotiations with apartheid rulers, a process that culminated in his election as the country's first black president in 1994.
Mandela stepped down as president in 1999, after serving one term in office and is still revered around the world for promoting peace and fighting against racism and HIV/Aids.