Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

26 November 2012

Rwanda: 'We Are Unbreakable Rock' - Kagame

"While ours is a sad story, we don't accept absurdity and ridicule in our story. We get over our sad story and move on," President Paul has said while closing a retreat of youth genocide survivors at Petit Stade.

The President was on Monday addressing members of Genocide Survivors Students Association (AERG), among whom 478 concluding a retreat that discussed several issues including their education, school welfare, protection against sexually transmitted diseases including Aids and developing values of patriotism and dignity. The 12-day retreat, held under theme 'Youth: strive for a bright future, dignify ourselves,' took place in Burera district.

Kagame commended AERG's commitment for having undertaken such initiatives through which they look back at the past and draw lessons for the future. "The most inspired by history are the ones who take the lead so that they can overcome similar challenges and forge new ways ahead. That characterizes AERG and the new Rwanda we are building," he said.

AERG, bringing together students from secondary school and higher learning institutions, was created in 1996 at the National University of Rwanda with the purpose of striving for their well-being, commemoration of Genocide, discipline and caring for each other. It currently counts more than 43,000 members.

"Because they say 'we cannot accept to die twice,' what we can do is to provide them with support," President Kagame said, adding that this stance is crucial for a nation that is experiencing many external disturbances. "We are unbreakable rock. As you believe and want not to die twice, many things will come and leave us healthier than we are."

He added that Rwandans learned a lot from their history and culture that will help them to face challenges of life. He mentioned that the most important thing is to refuse to be prisoners of the past. "The rest is like polishing," he pointed out.

The students for their part commended President Kagame for his efforts to give equal chances to all Rwandans and the progress made so far, but also raised particular concerns including survivors who are still homeless and the issue of the students who do not get chance to go on with university studies.

While he made it clear he took note of the complaints, President Kagame pointed out that people should not be obsessed by university, but rather look at the reality on the ground. "In your pursuit of education, aim at being knowledgeable in accordance with the job market; don't study only to earn diplomas," he told the students, highlighting technical and vocational skills in making people more competitive.

Citing success stories from Germany, South Korea and Singapore, which have become major competitors on the international market due to their smart work and competitiveness, the President urged the students to do the same. "Progress cannot happen by accident, people have work for it," he said. "Things must change, but first of all there should be mindset change on how to achieve progress."

Reacting on the issue of some Genocide survivors who are still homeless, President Kagame expressed his worry about the issue. "It's unclear why there are Genocide survivors who are still homeless. The government has been allocating money to find shelters for them, but I don't see why the issue remains unresolved. This will be followed up with due diligence," he assured the students.

Members of AERG took the occasion to donate Frw 4 million to the Agaciro Development Fund.

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