Members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing on Saturday conducted a special Umuganda dedicated to cleaning and rehabilitating Genocide memorial sites across the country.
According to Eric Bayisenge Twahirwa, the executive secretary of the youth group composed of about 250,000, the voluntary exercise was held in the context of the forthcoming 24th Genocide commemoration.
“Since December last year, we decided to conduct Umuganda twice every month, attending to issues at hand related to human security and government community development programmes among others. Since we are approaching the commemoration period, we have decided that we mainly dedicate our activities to cleaning and rehabilitating Genocide memorial sites but also supporting survivors in various ways,” Bayisenge said.
“This Saturday, we cleaned and rehabilitated six memorial sites. We also started the construction of six houses and renovated 121 others in different parts of the country, which include those of vulnerable Genocide survivors,” he added.
Other activities conducted over the weekend by the youth group, during special Umuganda, include construction of 179 toilets, 184 organic gardens locally known as Akarima k’igikoni; construction and rehabilitation of 67km of roads connecting communities and as well as water trenches; construction of four classrooms, planting of trees; and hygiene and sanitation on homes.
“It’s a moment of learning and understanding our history but also sustaining and building on what we have achieved,” Bayisenge said.
Naftari Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of Ibuka, an umbrella body of Genocide survivors’ organizations, said the youth’s exercise is both teaching and presenting a better future in the fight against genocide and its ideologies.
“In the past, cleaning and rehabilitating memorial sites had been left to the government and survivors only. The trend is changing, and it even becomes better when the young people stand up to protect these memorial sites voluntarily as we continue to accord respect to those who perished,” Ahishakiye said.
He added: “When these young people go to clean and rehabilitate these sites, they also learn about our history; they get a clear picture of what their fellow youth did to sink this country on grounds of ethnicity, and what they should do to make sure that such doesn’t happen again.”
The youth volunteers’ organization formed in 2013 with less than 300 members is composed of students and graduates, with leadership structures from the national level down to the grassroots.
As of end of last year, their human security and community development activities since it was founded, was valued at over Rwf630 million.