In 2019, singer Claire Mutimawurugo launched ‘Hashya Ibiyobyabwenge’, a campaign that aims at fighting drug use in Rwandan schools as she looks to contribute to the country’s drive against drug use.
Having had a successful campaign in schools in the City of Kigali last year, Mutimawurugo has now set her sights on the districts of Nyagatare, Gicumbi and Burera from January 20 to February 9 with an ambition to reach more schools across the country.
She spoke to Sunday Magazine’s Eddie Nsabimana about her ambitious initiative, her experience so far, and how the campaign can be successful.
How did you come up with this idea to fight drug abuse in schools?
Actually I am an artist whose music has played a big impact in promoting unity and reconciliation in prisons and, given how drug use among youth is a serious concern to the country, I realised that I can do the same in contributing to the country’s drive to save the young generation from drugs.
It is now not through my music but creating space for the young generation to play their role in crafting content in music or poetry that carry anti-drug use messages, through competitions.
Tell us about the competition and who is eligible to compete.
The competition is open to all students. We have judges who help us pick those with the songs or poems that resonate with our theme ‘I am against drugs because I am the future of the nation’.
How do you identify schools that take part in the campaign?
The local district officials help us identify schools for the campaign and at least one school is selected from each sector
Of course, we want that the message reaches all schools from across the country but this time we want to take our campaign to schools from districts which are near borders because huge quantities of drugs are smuggled from neighboring countries.
We don’t grow drugs and that’s why we should stop them from spreading on Rwandan soil.
Why is the campaign important for schools?
The main objective of the campaign is mobilizing students from Primary and Secondary schools to fight any form of drug use. We hope their contribution can be crucial in fighting drug use in their schools and their neighborhoods in general.
Besides, we will be able to detect students who have talent in music and poetry and see how we can nurture their talent.
Are schools interested in the campaign?
It’s as if the campaign came at the right time because schools are so committed that they help us coordinate the competition, from identifying students that participate in the competition to ensuring that all students are brought together when we need them during the campaign.
What have you achieved through the campaign so far?
Apart from the competitions, we also bring onboard speakers from different government institutions to educate students on the consequences of drug abuse on their lives.
Last year, for instance, when we started our campaign in schools from the City of Kigali, students who understood how bad drugs are, have already made steps to report wherever they know abuses or deals in drugs after realising how bad they are.
Their information helped the National Police, which is one of our partners in the campaign, trace drugs at 56 places across Kigali in just 18 days of the campaign and this has shown that our campaign is of great impact.
How do you identify the winners of the competition, and what prizes do you give them?
We have a three-member panel of judges in place that rate students’ works, including a music producer and musician plus a literature teacher from each school that hosts the campaign.
Prizes vary from school materials, sports kits and mattresses.
Have you encountered any challenges during the campaign?
Not everything can go the way you wish. I would wish to see people doing the same campaign in other parts of the country so that it reaches all schools at the same time.
I still need support so that the campaign reaches all schools across the country.
My impression is that concerned government institutions and private companies are committed to supporting the campaign and that gives me hope that more players can get involved to have a successful campaign.
What do you see as the future of your campaign?
This is a campaign which I wish can last until drug abuse is uprooted in our country.
I really want it to make a great impact in fighting drug use in schools to save the future of our nation, starting from schools.Follow https://twitter.com/@Eddie_250