COVID-19: Rwandans support needy families during lockdown

Some of the foodstuffs that was distributed to 350 vulnerable households in Rubavu District last week.

It's not clear how much money has been collected, so far, but able citizens in most parts of Kigali have started voluntarily putting together money and other essential items such as food to families that need help during this COVID-19 lockdown. 

The fundraising campaign is largely being done at village level, in communities, and in churches.

 

The New Times has seen lengthy pledge lists from different villages of the city. The lists are, as it appears, growing with more and more people gradually getting committed to the noble cause.

 

The fundraising campaign is now also being taken to social media where Rwandans - in and outside the country - who have already contributed are urging others to make a contribution.
 

Done on WhatsApp

Jean Rushekye, a resident of Akaruvusha Village in the Gacuriro Cell of Kinyinya Sector on Saturday told The New Times that they started the initiative on Monday.

Most of the mobilization, he said, is being done on WhatsApp. People pledge and then send money to a phone number belonging to one trusted member of their community. 

Rushekye said: "We have 40 families going through difficult times due to this COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are volunteering so that we help these families. People are contributing whatever they can; be it food and or money."

From Kicukiro District, Françoise Mukamunana, a resident of Nyandungu Village, in Rwimbogo Cell, said they started a similar campaign on Thursday.

"In our village we are counting people in various levels or categories, such as those who would usually eat depending  on their daily earning such as casual labourers who can't leave their homes to go and work because of the lockdown."

Already, 50 families in need have been identified but Mukamunana acknowledged that the list could grow. Mobilisation for support in her community is continuous.

Apart from the previously disadvantaged folks, many other usually hardworking and able Rwandans were rendered helpless during the Coronavirus containment period which is characterized by social and economic challenges. 

Mukamunana added: "The plan is that we economise and share the little we get amongst them so that everyone gets something. We shall buy them food. People are making pledges online using WhatsApp and we are doing our best to ensure openness so that contributions are fairly put to the rightful use."

Need for transparency

By late Friday, the pledge list on her village's WhatsApp group for the effort had Rwf400,000. 

Mukamunana stressed that in whatever they are doing,  they are mindful of the need for transparency throughout this entire effort. 

"We want to clearly report to all the people who contributed. They must know what exactly was bought and how much, and the full list of people who benefitted even though the handover will always be made in public," she said.

President Paul Kagame on Friday said the government will do everything possible to support Rwandans, especially those whose sources of livelihood have been interrupted.

Among others, the government considered developing a social protection plan to support the most vulnerable community members.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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