Thousands of fresh high school graduates returned home over the weekend after completing six weeks of Urugerero, or national service, during which they constructed a total of 147 houses for vulnerable citizens across the country.
During the post-high school exercise, participants pitched camp at different sites across all districts, and officials have put the worth of their voluntary work to an estimated Rwf800 million.
Besides building new residential units, the youths, known as Intore in the course of the national service, also refurbished 199 houses, built 1,129 toilets, helped initiate kitchen gardens for 3,049 households to enhance nutrition, and set up two fruit tree nurseries.
According to the National Itorero Commission, which is in charge of organising the annual exercise, up to 8,221 youths took part in this year’s Urugerero, 3,814 of whom were girls.
The idea is to deploy young people who have completed their secondary school education – and are about to join tertiary institutions – to communities around the country to particular help improve the living conditions of vulnerable households.
Participants are selected at the village and cell levels across the country.
During the course of Urugerero, participants are also deployed to communities to help to raise public awareness on such important issues as drug abuse and malnutrition.
In Rwamagana District, Urugerego participants pitched camp in Nyakariro Sector. From this site, which hosted 250 Intore (134 of them girls), participants were able to construct four houses in nearby communities, which were subsequently inaugurated on Friday.
An emotional Theogene Nsabimana, one of the beneficiaries, said: “I never thought that one day I would have my own house.”
His brand new home is complete with a toilet and a ‘kitchen garden’.
Speaking at the occasion, the Governor of Eastern Province, Fred Mufulukye, lauded the youths, urging them to keep working hard and espousing the values of patriotism, volunteerism and community service.
Speaking during the launch of the 2019 Urugerero in Kayonza District last month, Local Government minister Prof. Anastase Shyaka described the Urugerero as “a home-grown practice” that must be preserved.
Urugerero, he said, is “a catalyst for accelerated development and a self-sustaining, wealthy and dignified nation.”
Urugerero, an ages-old Rwandan tradition, was first reintroduced in modern Rwanda for secondary school leavers in 2013.