Anything from building a road in Masaka, working on their neighbours’ farms, to selling vegetables in local markets, Rusheshe-based Genocide survivors and Rwandans who were evicted from Tanzania have worked to eke out a living.
Rusheshe, a budding suburb in Masaka Sector of Kigali’s Kicukiro District, is home to Kanyetabi Settlement where some 60 families of Genocide survivors and 43 of Rwandans evicted from Tanzania more than a year ago live.
They were settled in Kanyetabi in 2013 and 2014 by officials after it had been clear that they were vulnerable people without a roof over their head.
Today, the families are grateful to the country’s leadership for having a roof over their head but they also yearn for more job opportunities in the budding neighbourhood of Rusheshe.
“Life is very hard here. It’s hard to get food because we have no jobs,” said Sophie Uwera, a Genocide survivor.
Like many other settlers in Kanyetabi settlement, Uwera is very thankful for the government that facilitated her to get a house where she now lives with her six children, but she says capital is needed so she can set up a business.
“We have a modern market here but we don’t have anything to sell,” she said.
If she had a capital of at least Rwf2 million, Uwera says, she would open a charcoal store because her neighbours travel several kilometres away to buy wood fuel (charcoal).
Her neighbour, Theoneste Rurangwa, used to be a farmer before he was evicted from Tanzania.
“Not having a plot of land for farming is a big challenge. Yes, we have a roof over our head but we also need to eat,” Rurangwa said.
To provide for the residents of Kanyetabi settlement, officials in Kicukiro District extended the services of Vision 2020 Umurenge Project (VUP) to them.
Through VUP, those who are strong enough to work, such as Rurangwa, have been employed in activities to build a murram road that links two neighbourhoods of Paris and Masaka, while the elderly or disabled are given cash handouts.
The Executive Secretary of Rusheshe cell, Emmanuel Niyigena, told The New Times that those who can’t work get Rwf7,500 per month per individual in the family while those who can work are paid Rwf2,000 per day for their work.
“We help them to get work everywhere and we will continue to support them,” Niyigena said of the settlers.
He also revealed that district officials have entered negotiations with land owners in Bugesera marshland so they can set aside some land that would be exploited by Tanzania evictees and Genocide survivors from Kanyetabi settlement.
With the nearby village of Mubano inhabited by other vulnerable groups, such as the demobilised ex-combatants and the historically marginalised, Rusheshe has been growing fast as a haven for vulnerable people but also a burgeoning neighbourhood with facilities like a market, schools, and a health post available.
Despite challenges such as lack of capital to start businesses and not having land for farming, residents of Kanyetabi settlement remain grateful to the government for giving them a place to live and many of them hope to acquire everything else that they need through hard work.
“Not everyone in Rwanda has a house and not everyone has land. We will work just like everybody else,” said Nathalie Karigirwa, an evictee from Tanzania.
The single mother of two used to rear cows and grow crops in her farm back in Tanzania.
“We can’t have everything we need right now but we will slowly achieve something,” she said.