Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Youth Campaign for Somalia Collects More Than Frw 33 Million

Rwanda Youth Campaign for Somalia has winded up its activities and handed over a cheque worth Frw 33,628,087 to the Somalia's ambassador to Rwanda, Abdullah Sheikh Mohamed.

The campaign was initiated in August 2011 by Rwandan youth committed to support Somali people facing serious issues of hunger. The mobilization was conducted mostly through social media such as facebook.

Jean Nepo Sibomana, the coordinator of the campaign, said that the courage to take the lead was stimulated by experience that Rwandans went through.

"We suffered enough and we know much about it. This experience makes for us imperative to react when we see sufferance," the coordinator pointed out last week during the handover ceremony.

He added that the idea was channeled to the ministry of youth and sports and was taken to the cabinet for approval later in September 2011.

Among the notable donations include students of Agahozo Shallom Youth Village, a secondary school based in Rwamagana, who surrendered their food to contribute Frw 813,000 and students of ESPANYA in Nyanza district who collected Frw 1,000,000 in a week.

"There are even other unidentified ones who voluntarily contributed in millions," he said.

So far, the Youth Campaign for Somalia counts 2,827 members on its facebook page.

For Jean Marie Kagenza, the deputy chairman of the national youth council, the concluded action should be a starting point of collaboration between Rwandan and Somali youth in order to build a bright future. He also requested all concerned officials to play their role in building the partnership.

Amb. Abdullah Sheikh Mohamed was very grateful for the spirit of support that Rwandan youth have shown after that Somali people were suffering from the hunger.

"People were expecting a lot from the western world, but Rwandan youth showed that they are not less than them," he said. "We are not counting the numbers, but hearts donating."

The ambassador, who is also still new in the country, said that they have a strategic partnership with Rwanda where, he said, they will learn more from the country to rebuild their country that has been ruined by wars for about 20 years.

In this context, the ambassador announced that there will be an airline linking Kigali and Mogadishu by January of next year.

Rwanda's minister of youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, reiterated that such activity should be a starting point for a further collaboration between the countries.

"There are really several dimensions that we should explore and get far away," he said. "We take this momentum to bring this idea far."

The night was also marked by presentation of some background points about Somalia. The presentation revealed many commonalities between the two people in terms of culture such as the similar dressing and dance; the commonalities that made the gathering emotional for all participants.

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