President Paul Kagame wrapped up his trip in the Southern Province, yesterday, with an interaction with residents of Nyaruguru District, a moment he extensively used to urge Rwandans to continue working towards their economic self-reliance.
Thousands of Nyaruguru residents and people from other parts of the country, who had gathered at the grounds of Kibeho Parish welcomed the President with songs about patriotism, freedom, and good governance, as well as special thanks for his work to build and unite Rwanda.
Some of them showcased their businesses, especially schools and local cooperatives, as they competed in showing their economic achievements.
Then he boosted their morale with a speech in which he told them about the importance of self-reliance and how it is indeed possible to live without having to beg, but to have a vision and use other people's help to achieve their own goals.
"What has changed peoples' lives here in Nyaruguru did not come from somewhere else. It's not a gift from other people. It came from your own efforts, your own choice," he said, reminding them how poor Nyaruguru used to be in the past. "I will always remind you that there is a lot we have achieved with our own efforts even if we still have a long way to go to achieve everything that we need."
According to top officials in Nyaruguru, 20 per cent of people in the district moved above the poverty line over the last five years. The district's target is to take 30 per cent more people living in poverty out of it in the next three years.
At least 62 per cent of people in Nyaruguru District still live on less than a dollar per day and they will hopefully drop to 32 per cent in the next three years, said Emile Byiringiro, the Vice Mayor in charge of economic affairs in Nyaruguru District.
Residents speak out
The economy here has for long been based on subsistence agriculture but farmers have been recently investing in growing cash crops such as wheat, coffee, and tea.
The residents asked for President Kagame to help them build a paved road for the Huye-Kibeho-Akanyaru road so they can easily transport their agricultural produce to markets.
President Kagame had begun his last day of Southern Province tour with a visit to Educational Institute for Blind Children in Kibeho which was established by Polish Franciscan sisters and began operating in September 2008.
Kagame encouraged children here to study hard. He reminded them that handicap shouldn't be an obstacle for their progress.
Three of the five people from the crowd who had a chance to interact one-on-one with the president begged him to run for third term in 2017 but he asked them to keep that issue on the backburner.