The New Times (Kigali)

28 June 2014

Rwanda: Thousands Take Part in Global Umuganda

A number of foreign participants joined residents of Karambi village, Nyamata sector Bugesera district in a monthly communal work "Umuganda", which aimed at constructing houses for Rwandans who were evicted from Tanzania.

The event dubbed as the Global Umuganda, is taking place around Rwanda and across the world, was organized by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), as part of a series of events leading to Kwibohora20 , the 20th anniversary of liberation to be held on 4th of July.

Most of the foreign participants are in the country for the annual Gorilla naming ceremony "Kwita Izina", due to take place on 1st July, as well as the general Kwibohora20 events.

Among them include, tourism operators from Africa, Asia and Europe, plus other regional and international political organizations.

Dr.Anne Itto, the Secretary General of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), who participated in Umuganda, applauded the 'African spirit' of volunteerism and working for the common goal aimed at seeking home-grown solutions.

"This is the African spirit (talking of communal work); this is the spirit that we should never let go. This is our heritage, the heritage of voluntarism our fore fathers did, that we should be proud to own.

"We are brothers and sisters, who should be taking care of each other. I will make sure that when I return to South Sudan, I will advocate for communal work," she said.

Itto is leading a delegation of seven members of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), who are in Rwanda for Kwibohora20 events.

Most of the over 7,000 people who were evicted from Tanzania late last year are currently located in the transit camp in Rukara in the Eastern districts of Bugesera.

The eviction process left broken families, properties lost and homes burned down, during when Tanzanian security operatives were enforcing the expulsion exercise.

Most of the evictees were from the districts of Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Biharamulo and Ngara in the Akagera region.

Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, CEO of Rwanda Development Board, said that there was nothing better than being part of a life-changing initiative.

"We have with us, different people coming together for a common purpose, to bring a positive change in the community. The evicted people who are living in camps need shelter, and it's not their issue, it's a common issue. There is nothing better and stronger than being part of community development," she said.

Jacqueline Muhongayire, Minister of East African Community, acknowledge the spirit of international volunteerism expressed by regional and international participants, saying that the act would be a basis leading to building a sustainable regional integration, as well as promoting African tradition of volunteerism.

The Governor of the Eastern Province, Odette Uwamariya, welcomed the help extended to the people of Bugesera, citing that the spirit of problem-ownership had been a driving factor in Rwanda's development.

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