The eight-month fundraising campaign, (One Dollar Campaign), largely initiated by the Rwandan Diaspora, officially came to an end yesterday, but Rwf 246,132,563 have not been honoured of the Rwf 1,008,893,263 pledged.
This was revealed when the project was officially handed over to the beneficiaries – the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG), during the second day of the ongoing fourth Global Diaspora Convention at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
Initially targeting to raise at least Rwf 1.5 billion, the project aims to build accommodation for homeless orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The initiative was the brainchild of the Rwanda Diaspora Global Network (RDGN) during last year’s summit in Kigali.
RDGN officials presented the whole project’s accomplishments, especially the total amount of money raised, and how it will be managed.
“We are now closing the One Dollar Campaign, but we are starting a new phase – that of construction. There have been many achievements during the campaign, and many challenges. We will now publicly hand over the monies collected to those children,” noted Dr. Ismael Buchanan, the RDGN Secretary General.
Gustave Karara, the head of RDGN showcased some of the group’s accomplishments but also shed light on what he said were key challenges holding back the project.
Pledge defaulters are top on the list and the culprits include Gatsibo and Nyamasheke districts, the Rwandan community in South Africa, and several high-profile ministries.
“There were several hindrances and these must be explained to Rwandans. There are some people and institutions that pledged but up to now have not bothered to contribute. We are still calling them but they are not forthcoming,” Karara told a baffled gathering largely made up of the heads of Diaspora associations.
While the Defence Ministry with Rwf 41,280,000 and MINISANTE (Rwf 26,302,440) were among the top contributors in the category of ministries, others like the Local Government (Rwf 58,100) and Miniyouth (Rwf 84,300) are on the bottom of the list.
“And, surprisingly, MINALOC are on the task force, but we have only seen them, I think, twice in all our meetings!”
Astonishingly however, MININFOR, MIGEPROF, MINEDUC and the Ministry in Charge of Cabinet Affairs (MINICAAF), contributed nothing at all.
Real Contractors, Kobil, NPD Cotraco, and Mutara Enterprises, pledged Rwf 10m each, but have not honoured their pledges despite constant reminders from RDGN.
Among the other challenges, Karara also noted that banks’ inability to provide the names of certain big contributors also resulted into an unwarranted embarrassment.
“There are contributors who still remain “unknown” on the bank lists just because banks are unable to tell who deposited money,” he said, adding that some institutions have seriously complained of the lack of being recognized for their contributions.
• Project must belong to beneficiaries
Meanwhile, RDGN and MINAFFET strongly opposed some who suggested that the fund should not be handed over to AERG, as the group was alleged to be formed by young, inexperienced people.
Karara stressed that such concerns were baseless and noted that several measures were taken into consideration earlier so as to allow AERG to own their project.
“This should not be like what happened in the Gir’Inka (One Cow Per Family) matter – we understand this issue very well, and we decided to put the fund and the whole project in the hands of AERG but also put up a team to assist them since they own it – it is theirs,” Karara stressed.
“We must give AERG the responsibility – they must know that we did this for them – and we are handing over to them!”
Karara noted that an advisory board that includes officials from Minadef, CNLG, RDGN, the Aegis Trust, MINAFFET and MINALOC has been set up to assist AERG in monitoring and implementing the project as it heads into the second phase; construction.