First Lady joins Genocide survivors for end of year party

First Lady Jeannette Kagame, yesterday, joined youth orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and members of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG) in an end of year party where she urged them to uphold the spirit of resilience as it is their path to progress.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame (C) in a group photo with youth orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and members of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)
First Lady Jeannette Kagame (C) in a group photo with youth orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and members of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

First Lady Jeannette Kagame, yesterday, joined youth orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and members of the Association of Student Survivors of the Genocide (AERG) in an end of year party where she urged them to uphold the spirit of resilience as it is their path to progress.

The event, held at the AERG Hostel (commonly known as the One Dollar Campaign Complex),  was marked by the residents reminiscing about their life for the past 20 years and appreciating the support they have since got from different people and the government.

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First Lady Jeannette Kagame dances with excited youths orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the end of year party at Kagugu in Gasabo, Kigali, yesterday. 

In her address to the youth, the First Lady referred to the event as a way of giving love to children orphaned by the Genocide.

“It’s been a long journey of 20 years; one of rebuilding a nation and restoring people’s hope, those who were children during the Genocide are now parents in happy families while most are successful youths that the nation is proud of,” Mrs Kagame said.

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Chief of Staff Reserve Forces Gen. Fred Ibingira received a present, on behalf of the Rwanda Defence Forces, from the ‘One Dollar Campaign Complex’ beneficiaries, in recognition of the former’s support toward the housing project.

The Rwf2 billion hostel is home to 192 vulnerable orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, including 96 girls.

The beneficiaries, including young survivors from Umumararungu family (a hostel set up for young girl survivors who had no place to call home), moved into the four-storey complex in October.

“We will always be close to you but you also have to watch over one another and support those that are much younger. We are grateful for the One Dollar Campaign that resulted into having this hostel that is not just a home but a place to learn from each other,” Mrs Kagame said.

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The end of year party was also graced by elderly Genocide survivors, including widows.

The First Lady added: “You have made it through the hardest part of your lives, you have exceptionally achieved a lot and the path ahead has been made easier by your accomplishments.”

In encouraging the children to live a purpose driven life, the First Lady noted that although the children lost their parents, they did not lose a country.

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A view of the ‘One Dollar Campaign Complex’, which houses a total of 192 youths, half of whom are female. The first phase of the project, backed by Rwandans both in the country and in Diaspora, was inaugurated in October.

Right choices

“You have a nation determined to ensure that you are never hurt again. Our nation dignified you and now it’s upon you to make the right choices. You must know that you have to live twice, live for your own and live for the relatives you lost,” she said.

The AERG Hostel was built with contributions from Rwandans, including those in the Diaspora, and within the country, those in public service and members of the private sector.

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Guests during the party.

During the celebrations, the residents of the hostel and other members of AERG presented a gift to the First Lady, the Rwanda Defence Forces, and one of their mentors for their support throughout the years.

Jean de Dieu Mirindi, the national coordinator of AERG, prayed for the establishment of a training centre for children living in the hostel and also called for professional internships to the orphans that have completed studies.

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A talented youth entertains the guests at the party (Courtesy photos)

He also requested for them to be facilitated in public speaking proficiency and the First Lady pledged her support through the Imbuto Foundation which runs empowerment programmes.