Their beloved club might be going through tough times, but a Rwanda-based Manchester United fans’ club is happy to impact lives off the pitch.
On Saturday, members of The Reds travelled to Bugesera District where they joined the residents of Karambi Village in Kayumba Cell, Nyamata Sector, to carry out community work and inaugurate a new look home belonging to a Genocide survivor, Francine Murekeyisoni.
The group, which boasts over 100 members, raised over Rwf2.3 million to rehabilitate the house, and construct a kitchen and washrooms for the family, while they also paid school fees and provided scholastic materials for Murekeyisoni’s five children.
The decision to undertake the project was taken back in May when the Man Utd fans, through Genocide survivors associations, identified Murekeyisoni as one of the neediest members of her neighborhood.
At the time, they donated foodstuff, a mattress and cash to the widow, and launched the works through physically making bricks and clearing the ground for the eventual construction of the kitchen and washrooms, before contracting locals to carry on with the rest of the works.
They also gave the family a goat and it has since given birth to two kids – a male and female.
“Initially the idea was to identify a needy Genocide survivor household and extend our moral and material support to them during the Genocide commemoration period,” said Felix Mutangana, the chairman of The Reds.
He added: “But when we visited the family we found that the house they were living in was in a very sorry state and was almost collapsing, they had no proper kitchen as they were cooking in the open and had no roof over what they would use as toilet,so we decided we could do something bigger, immediately we held a fundraiser during which we raised over Rwf1 million, while the rest was raised gradually.”
“We are football fans but, before that, we are people and Rwandans for that matter. We need to support the weakest among us.”
Mutangana said The Reds will continue to support the family and other needy households as much as possible, adding that the fans’ club had also committed to contribute Rwf150,000 towards a fund to buy health insurance policies for poor households in the village. Murekeyisoni heaped praised on the Manchester United fans’ group, saying that her life and that of her children had changed significantly from the time they started supporting them.
She said, “I can’t believe this is my home, plus I now own three goats, it’s amazing how God can use people who you never knew before to change your life, I am very grateful.”
Celestin Kalinganire, a district official, who represented the Bugesera District mayor, Emmanuel Nsanzumuhire, thanked The Reds fans’ club for the support, calling on similar groups in the country to undertake similar causes to help develop the country.
Mutangana said The Reds would continue to support Murekeyisoni and her children as well as other needy households in the area.
“For instance, we are planning to get the household get solar energy, which also underlines our conviction that renewable energy is the way to go to foster sustainable development in our country,” he said.