FOR WILLIAM MUGISHA, last year’s eviction from Tanzania, a country he had known as his motherland for decades was very frustrating. He felt it was the end of his life and that of his young family.
The father of two, in his mid 30s, was together with thousands of others, hounded out of their homes and sent packing across the border to Rwanda by Tanzanian authorities, leaving behind everything he had toiled for.
“It was the worst experience of my life. I had nothing when I crossed into Rwanda in August last year, he said.
But lucky enough, once he crossed to Rwanda, the hospitality he received restored some hope in him.
“The warm welcome gave us hope that a better future was possible after the horrible things that had happened to us.”
But despite the hope, Mugisha says his prospects to ever own a house were minimal.
“While we were received by Good Samaritans who took us in and lived with us harmoniously, as a man with a wife and children, you definitely have to start thinking. I could not keep my family under the roof of another man’s house,” he said.
Ray of hope
Fast forward, Mugisha would later be chosen among 160 vulnerable families in Nyabihu District who would have houses constructed for them.
He gave his testimony at an event on Wednesday where officials from Rwanda Red Cross and Belgian Embassy visited the construction site of the 160 housing units being constructed for the returnees in Nyabihu.
The housing units, constructed by the Rwanda Red Cross with the support of Belgium Red Cross, are near-complete, and officials say they will be handed to the beneficiaries before the end of the year.Each house has three bedrooms.
“I and my family have been living in a small shark in someone’s compound. I was excited when I was shown the piece of land on which my house was to be built, I have since followed every development,” Mugisha said.
Other beneficiaries also said they were happy to receive houses after spending a long time under people’s roofs.
“I never dreamt of owning a house let alone a modern one. This motivates me to work hard and get my family out of the misery that we have experienced for years while living in DR Congo forests,” says Marie Uwizeye, who repatriated in 2010.
Uwizeye says well wishers have not only helped them own houses but also send their children to school, and cover health insurance.
Dr Bernard Nzigiye, the president of Rwanda Red Cross, said they constructed houses for the families to help them lead better lives and contribute toward the development of the country.
He said that apart from the houses, Red Cross also helps beneficiaries and other vulnerable families through educating their children, especially in vocational schools, among others.