23 January 2013

Rwanda: Youth Pledge Dedication to National Service

Rwanda youth have said they are ready to actively participate in the just re-introduced voluntary national services so as to better their communities.

In an interview with The New Times, the secondary school leavers vowed to work with courage and devotion and to dedicate their entire efforts, knowledge and skills to the service to make a positive impact on the socio-economic lives of the population.

Olivier Gatete, a 21-year-old from Ngoma sector, Huye district, said the national services are a 'wonderful opportunity for the youth to make an impact in the community while at the same time proving their abilities and improving their skills."

"I am ready! We are all ready and enthusiastic to participate actively," Gatete told The New Times on Tuesday shortly after the launch of the programme in the district.

"We have the capacity to bring about change in people's lives. Within the three months, we will work hard to transform the living conditions of the most vulnerable individuals within our communities."

Gatete said they are aware of the challenges awaiting them but noted that they will make every effort to overcome them.

"We have voluntarily committed ourselves to participate in these activities and we shall not step back. I know we might face a lot of challenges but that will not discourage us," Gatete vowed.

Shamima Uwimbabazi, another volunteer, said taking part in the service is a testimony of patriotism among the youth.

"This will be our contribution to building this nation, a testimony of our commitment to our obligations as citizens," Uwimbabazi noted.

"We should perhaps be using this time to make personal gains but now that is not the case. We are devotedly coming together to work for our great nation to attest to our patriotism," she added.

The programme, dubbed Urugerero, is an ancient custom that has been resurrected and incorporated into society. It is spearheaded by the Itorero National Taskforce.

Over 40 000 young men and women are set to participate in the three-month service.

They will intervene in various areas, including the sensitisation of residents on various key campaigns like family planning, development policies, HIV prevention, and gender equity, among others.

Campaigns on hygiene and sanitation, environment protection, adult literacy, infrastructure development and protection, constructing teachers' house and supporting the most vulnerable within the community are also part of the activities to be conducted.

After the working period, evaluation will be conducted and certificates awarded to volunteers, officials said.

While speaking in Huye District on Tuesday, the Minister of Internal Security Sheilh Mussa Fazil Harerimana challenged the youth to put their skills to good use in order to transform their communities.

"You have the capacity to operate a significant change into people's living conditions," the minister told the volunteers.

"This is a Rwandan custom and for it to be a success, you must take it as an opportunity [to contribute to building a strong nation] rather than a burden".

Speaking in Nyamagabe district, the State Minister for Water and Energy Emma Françoise Isumbingabo encouraged the population to actively engage in problem solving initiatives as well as development programmes.

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