First Lady shares Umuganda experience in Uganda
“I can’t believe this because I am very happy today seeing two first ladies of Rwanda and Uganda, it’s a dream come true and I can’t believe this,” said a happy Jonan Gumisiriza, head boy of Itojo Central Primary School in Ruhama sub- county, Ntugamo district.
Mrs. Kagame on Tuesday concluded a two-day visit to Ntungamo District, western Uganda, on the invitation of her counterpart, First Lady Janet Museveni, Member of Parliament for Ruhaama County, Ntungamo district, and Minister for Karamoja Affairs.
The two first ladies visited Itojo Central Primary School, where they took part in the unveiling of a foundation stone for the completion of a seven-block classroom built by Mrs. Museveni. They also visited Rwenkiniro Senior Secondary School, where another block of classrooms, donated by Mrs Museveni, in partnership with Hydrofoam International, was officially commissioned by First Lady Jeannette Kagame.
Speaking at the unveiling of a new classroom block of seven classes at Itojo Central Primary School, Mrs. Kagame pledged US$10,000 from Imbuto Foundation towards the construction of the school, and also announced the pledge of US$10,000 from Rwandan Women leaders, who were represented at the function.
Mrs. Museveni asked Mrs. Kagame to speak on the aspect of community development, sharing with Itojo community members the remarkable strides Rwanda has made as a result of Umuganda. Mrs. Kagame said that the visit was one that she had promised, when her Ugandan counterpart visited Rwanda last year, and participated in the construction of a school in Bugesera during Umuganda.
She added that she hoped the visit was the beginning of a series of community development exchanges between the two countries.
She shared with Itojo community members, gathered at the school, how some of the results of Umuganda in Rwanda have been very inspiring. She said that through community efforts, the year 2011 saw the construction of 8,600 classrooms and a total of 20,000 toilets for the Nine Year basic Education Plan. “This community development,” she said, “saved the government 85 billion Rwandan Francs, which is the equivalent of 225 billion Ugandan Shillings.”
The First Lady also noted that contributions from communities for all this was 67% and if it were not for this commitment from communities, it would have taken the government 10 years to construct these facilities. She also told the people at Itojo that the traditional practice of Umuganda which the government of Rwanda revived, has also served as an important tool of unity and reconciliation. “Instead of relying on other people to do it for us, we must realise as Africans, the power of bringing communities together for development and one must never underestimate the potential a united community has in developing its people,” Mrs. Kagame said.
She called upon the youth of Itojo to continue with the spirit of Umuganda, saying it’s through them that change and development can be sustained.
Mrs. Museveni thanked Mrs. Kagame for accepting her invitation to visit Uganda, adding that Rwanda and Uganda have a long shared history, and that is why she invited her counterpart to come and share the experience of Rwanda and also learn from Uganda. Talking about Umuganda, Mrs. Museveni said Umuganda is a traditional phenomenon across Africa, and that it is one avenue through which Uganda can catch up in time to achieve what it’s supposed to achieve in the shortest time possible.
Mrs. Museveni noted that there are many more things which Uganda could have achieved in the last 30 years through Umuganda, having observed the transformational impact of Umuganda in Rwanda.
The Rwandan delegation consisted of Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloisea Inyumba, as well as women leaders who are MPs and Permanent Secretaries. Also included were both Ambassadors from the two countries.