The smile on her face upon turning on the lights was nothing short of blinding. It was unbelievable that after a lifetime of struggling with candles and paraffin lamps, her house was at last connected to electricity; only a tap on the switch and it is all bright.
But what lit up her hopes most is that the lights came at the time when she needs them most. 21 year old Mukantwali Pascasie is currently in her fifth year of secondary school and just a few months from present day, she will be a candidate for the national Secondary leaving examinations; a determining point for her future and perhaps for that of her aging mother.
Now with the white light which she says will not hurt her eyes like the luminous flame of the candle has been doing in the past, she is convinced that her luck of passing the national exam is higher.
Mukantwali’s mother, 60 year old Rose Kankogo is one of the five genocide survivors in Gasaka Village of Murambi sector in Nyamagabe District who benefited from connection to the national grid; courtesy of Startimes.
A seventh survivors’ home which already had access to electricity was equally connected with piped water.
Connecting the genocide survivors to the national electricity grid was in efforts to support these vulnerable families on their journey to sustainable growth and in so doing contribute to improving of their livelihoods.
For instance with water close by, the old women will no longer have to struggle with fetching from distant wells, or using dirty swamp water.
Mukankwandi Glaciera is a 53 year old widow survivor of the genocide, who survived with six children after her husband and the rest of the family perished in 100 days of genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which cost the country over a million lives.
In the immediate aftermath of the genocide, Mukankwandi went back to her marital home in former Commune Mudasomwa in Gikongoro Prefecture but the security there was still shaky so she decided to settle in Gasaka from whence she had survived.
“I started struggling to bring up my children. Living far from the fields I would have tilled (unsure of security); we had no choice but to survive on casual work and handouts from the government. Then they constructed us a house and things started to evidently get better. Now we have also been connected the electricity grid. I cannot believe that my house now has electricity,” she noted.
Mukankwandi, who loves keeping up with current affairs in the country said she is most pleased that she will not have to worry about battery cells for her radio anymore.
Explaining the birth of the idea to connect survivor’s homes with electricity and bringing water closer to their homes, Hussein Kamanzi, the Brand Manager of Startimes said; “our intention is to intervene such that we support survivors improve their standards of living and facilitate them on their journey to self sustainability,” Kamanzi offered.
Other supplies given out by the pay TV service provider include food stuffs of rice and cooking oil in addition to other domestic products like soap.
Startimes support was highly appreciated by local authorities. Mugisha Philbert the Mayor of Nyamagabe noted that what makes such support important is that it fits into government efforts of improving the livelihoods of Rwandans.
“The support given by Startimes supplements government agenda of increasing access to electricity to at least 70 percent of all households in Rwanda by 2017 from the current 16 percent. We are very glad as a district that Startimes chose to give back to the community and in a sustainable manner.”
Besides, leaders of digital imaging gave out five decoders to rural sectors in the district in efforts to increase access to information.
More than 5,000 killed in just seven hours
Earlier on, the Startimes’ team paid homage to fallen Rwandans who are laid to rest at the Murambi Genocide Memorial Site, where they placed wreaths on mass graves and supported the site with Rwf200,000 to aid in its daily operations.
At the site, the team was taken through the horrors that befell the Murambi hill. The place of the Massacre in Murambi was former base for the French troops on Operation Turquoise.
Here Tutsi were gathered from nearby areas at this being promised of protection from government leaders and the French soldiers.
“Then the testing moment came on April 11th when the first attack by Interahamwe Militias was made. At this point, Tutsi men stood defended the group, beating off the attack. But according to the survivors, this attack was more like a trial to see how many people and what efforts would be needed to destroy them. Then on the 21st, they were attacked with military support, wiping almost every soul on Murambi hill,” Mukwiye Gaspar, the guide at the memorial site narrated.
After a tour of the site which included seeing preserved bodies of victims of the genocide, the Startimes CEO, Hans Huo, said he would never be the same again.
“It is one thing to hear about something and another to come face to face with it. Looking at the remains, preserved bodies of the genocide against the Tutsi at this site, I could not help but imagine the brutality with which they were killed. Innocent children, women; all killed in such a short time.”
“All one may say is that humans should pledge on their lives that never again should a similar atrocity happen anywhere,” Hans added.
With the white light taking away the darkness in her house and the shadows of partial lighting, Mukankwandi offered that no doubt, this extension of physical light has everything to do with bringing shinning hope into the lives of genocide survivors like her.