Throughout this 18th Genocide Commemoration period, the Brasseries et Limonaderies du Rwanda (BRALIRWA) Ltd, as part its annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, is engaged in a number of sponsorships to various communities that were affected by the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
When Hope Magazine visited the Bralirwa Plant in Kicukiro, Kigali on Wednesday April 11, 2012, it was quiet, with low activity going on and employees evidently in mourning mood.
Freddy Nyangezi Biniga, Bralirwa’s Corporate Affairs & Communication Manager said in recent interview with Hope Magazine that: “our commitment, particularly the active engagement in a number of commemoration activities is partly rooted to the history of our company. We’re one of the many companies in Rwanda that have very sad Genocide memories”.
He explains that Bralirwa in total lost 48 employees, including nineteen from the Gisenyi Plant and 29 from Kigali Plant.
Right at Kigali Plant in Kicukiro, close to the main entrance of Bralirwa is a Genocide Memorial Stone with names of 7 staff who were killed within the factory premises. With this development, Bralirwa now becomes one of the first private companies to implement this (Government) program—, a (program) of encouraging institutions (both public and private) to build Genocide Memorials within their premises. A similar memorial is also built at Gisenyi Plant, confirms Freddy.
Again, during that dark period, Freddy recalls that a staff minibus was ambushed in the morning by Genociders on its way from Kigali to Gisenyi plant, Rubavu District. “They (Genociders) shot the bus tyres and when it eventually stopped—majority of our staff were shot dead as they struggled to disembark to save life”, he narrates.
As such, Bralirwa’s Communications Manager empathizes that the company’s commitment to supporting families of those staff whose beloved ones perished in Genocide is not just long-term but rather perpetual. Bralirwa commemorates the loss of her staff annually.
Support to the families of all deceased staff caters for fees/university tuition for school-going orphans and medical insurance (Mitualle de santé). Support to deceased staff of Gisenyi-Rubavu Plant is channeled through their “Girimpuhwe” Association. Initially, Bralirwa used to pay fees for only primary and secondary, but the support has been scaled up to also cater for tuition (for the students) in higher education institutions like universities and colleges. “Paying for their fees we believe is one of the sustainable way of positively contributing to their lives, especially when the excel and eventually get good jobs in future to support their families”, observes Freddy.
Clearly, all this is in consonance with the company’s core value, which states: “respect for the people, society and environment we live in”.
Each year, Bralirwa staff and their family members, survivors and friends converge at both Kigali and Gisenyi plants to pray for those who lost their lives during Genocide. They also share life experiences, condolences, motivational speeches.