Kwibuka 22: As we remember, we must not be defined by our past

Twenty-two years ago on this very day, Adelphine Mukabayizere was a normal six-year old girl, enjoying the love of her parents and her seven siblings in Rusizi District (then known as Commune Kamembe) in the Western Province.

Twenty-two years ago on this very day, Adelphine Mukabayizere was a normal six-year old girl, enjoying the love of her parents and her seven siblings in Rusizi District (then known as Commune Kamembe) in the Western Province.

By the time that the fastest genocide in history ended one hundred days later, after the Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated the genocidal government of the time, Adelphine had lost her father, a brother and two sisters.

 

Adelphine, like the many survivors, refused to let her pain and loss hold her back and deny her a good future. To do so would have let the Interahamwe, and others of similar ilk, win.

 

And she was never going to allow that. With the support of FARG (the fund for support to vulnerable survivors of the Genocide) and her remaining family, she completed high school.

 

After graduating, she could have been satisfied with a high school diploma but she wanted more. She wanted to join and graduate from the college of her choice, the University of Rwanda; her challenge was paying the tuition.

In 2011, she sought and got the opportunity to work as a sales agent for Tigo Rwanda, selling sim-cards and airtime. Adelphine enrolled in the University of Rwanda-Rusizi Campus in the faculty of management and used her earnings as a Tigo product salesperson to pay her tui2tion.

Today, Adelphine is in her final year and she’s also risen up the Tigo sales ladder as well; she is now a Tigo sales ‘Team Leader’, directly supervising about 50 other young, ambitious Rwandans.

When I asked what message she had to give Rwandans, she said, “Everything is possible if you remain hopeful. If you stay strong and try to fulfil your full potential, the sky is the limit”.

I believe that Adelphine’s story is the very story of Rwanda post-1994. We chose hope ever despair and hard work over begging.

What I see as Tigo Rwanda’s role in our people’s (and country’s) bright future is facilitating these very same aspirations. That is why we aim to provide services that allow people to save more, learn more and talk more.

In addition to providing our various telecommunication services, we have provided direct support to genocide survivors over the years; last year we provided Mutuelle de Sante (health insurance) cards to 300 families in Kayonza District, handed over 21 heads of livestock to vulnerable families around the country, donated to genocide memorials and supported the orphans in Kamonyi District with school fees, clothes and food.

This year, we are launching the ‘Tigo 100 Days of Love’, an initiative that will cement our relationship with the community during the commemoration period. Teams will travel to all corners of the country and work with local communities in various projects that aim to raise the incomes of the most vulnerable among us.

We will also broadcast documentaries and hold talks to ensure that our hundreds of employees (both foreign and local) understand what happened in 1994 and what role they have to play in ensuring that ‘Never Again’ remains ‘Never Again’ especially when it comes to the issue of genocide ideology and what we need to do to combat it.

As we remember those that we lost in 100 days in 1994, it is important that we ensure that their lives were not lost for nothing. The lives that we lead today must be a testament to them.

And as a proud member of the Rwandan community, we here at Tigo are doing all we can to work and live by example.

The writer is the Deputy CEO of Tigo Rwanda

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