Kigali – 2020 was a year I had very high expectations for since I was a kid because everyone was talking about Vision 2020.
The new decade started out like any other but rapidly unfolded into a scenario where the world will remember for decades to come; coronavirus—a global pandemic that has drastically changed people’s lives.
The outbreak has demonstrated that you can have the best laboratories in the world, the best technology, resources, but if you don’t have the appropriate leadership to use them; they will not function.
Ever since coronavirus was first reported in Rwanda, I have been hoping for the best, hoping that our country will emerge victorious after this very severe pandemic.
Hundreds of tweets that are posted every day with the hashtag #Tuzatsinda make me realise how optimistic we are as a society
As Rwandans, we have seen our country win many serious battles and we fully trust our leadership to appropriately handle this one as well.
Coronavirus has brought with it a wave of very negative outcomes, but as we say ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ the pandemic has also highlighted some important lessons that us, young people, can learn from our leadership on how it is handling the situation.
A few years from now, we might be having that same responsibility since pandemics and infectious diseases will keep coming and the world needs to be always prepared.
As we are on the road to INTSINZI, I reflect back on all the lessons I am learning during this continued battle against coronavirus;
We are blessed to have a visionary leader. I remember during Umwiherero-National Leadership Retreat, how our president was really concerned about getting ready to fight the battle if coronavirus ever attacks our country, and to be honest at the time I didn’t understand why we needed to have testing kits and all the necessary equipment available.
I had never imagined that coronavirus could go miles and miles and reach Rwanda, but as a wise man once said; “The person who is well prepared has already won half of the battle”.
The world spends far too little on being ready for rapidly spreading diseases/pandemics leading to financially costly reactions.
Unprepared health systems see costs spike, and suffer time lags in acquiring and moving resources that they could have earlier purchased over time and had ready for rapid deployment. Early preparedness is key.
The fact that Rwandans and foreigners who have contracted Covid-19 are treated free of charge, and the availability of well-equipped hospitals and health centres, in all corners of the country shows that rights to life and health are enshrined in Rwanda.
Coronavirus showed it better, and I hope those that continuously want to lecture Rwanda about human rights took note of that.
The pandemic has proven that it is through uniting efforts and developing homegrown solutions that people can get solutions and overcome major issues, as the saying goes; ‘Intore ntiganya ishaka ibisubizo (don’t agonise, organise)’. When the young people are well-trained they do not hesitate to lend a hand and support the country in times of need.
Many young people countrywide are now seen in public places reminding people to wash their hands, wear masks ‘appropriately’, comply with social distancing rules, and are doing so without expecting any reward but because they understand the need to join hands and fight against Covid-19.
Rwandans in different parts of the world also continue to support the government by providing food and hygienic products to their neighbours affected by Covid19. When a leader finds time for the people, no matter how far they are, they will also support the country.
Our president, just like he finds time for citizens in the country during citizen outreach, also finds time for Rwandans in the diaspora and that pays off.
The diaspora has kept proving that it is indeed the fifth province of Rwanda. They have been mobilizing funds during the pandemic to support the most vulnerable in the country without waiting for help from elsewhere.
When the #ConnectRwanda challenge started, some were probably still considering smartphones as luxury items that don’t need to be distributed to the most vulnerable.
But Coronavirus has actually shown how smartphones are like oxygen now. Jobs, shopping, etc. were possible with some few clicks on smartphones.
Drones hover over parts of the country informing citizens about the pandemic and measures to follow which could have cost if done any other way.
I cannot forget to mention how I always learn from our security organs. During this pandemic they have continued to set an example for everyone to work ethically, tirelessly and professionally.
Infectious diseases like Covid-19 know no borders and they can attack any country irrespective of the society or the level of development and should hence be reminders that health and medical research remain as vital as ever.
This pandemic will eventually be controlled by medications and vaccines.
However, the lessons we have learned and keep learning should help us build resilient societies, which are ready to withstand future public health emergencies.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.