Members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing, on Saturday, conducted a special Umuganda dedicated to cleaning and rehabilitating Genocide memorial sites across the country.
According to Eric Bayisenge Twahirwa, the executive secretary of the youth group with membership of about 250,000, the voluntary exercise is in line with the forthcoming 24 Genocide commemoration slated for April.
“We as youth decided to conduct Umuganda twice every month…attending to issues at hand related to human security and government community development programmes among others.
“So, since we are approaching the commemoration period, we have decided that we mainly focus our activities on cleaning and rehabilitating Genocide memorial sites but also supporting survivors in various ways possible,” Bayisenge said.
“This Saturday, we cleaned and rehabilitated six memorial sites. We also started the construction of six houses and renovated 121 others in different parts of the country, which include those of vulnerable Genocide survivors,” he added.
Other activities conducted over the weekend by the youth group, during special Umuganda, include construction of 179 toilets, 184 organic gardens, locally known as Akarima k’igikoni, construction and rehabilitation of 67km of roads connecting communities and as well as water trenches, construction of four classrooms, planting of trees, and hygiene and sanitation around homes.
“It’s a moment of learning and understanding our history but also sustaining and building on what we have achieved,” Bayisenge said.
Naftari Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors’ organisations, said the voluntary exercise points to a better future in the fight against genocide and its ideologies.
“In the past, cleaning and rehabilitating memorial sites had been left to the government and survivors only. The trend is changing, and it even becomes better when the young people stand up to protect these memorial sites voluntarily as we continue to accord respect to those who perished,” Ahishakiye said.
He added: “When these young people go to clean and rehabilitate these sites, they also learn about our history; they get a clear picture of what their fellow youth did to sink this country on grounds of ethnicity, and what they should do to make sure that such doesn’t happen again.”
The youth volunteers’ organisation was formed in 2013 with less than 300 members and is composed of students and graduates, with leadership structures from the national level down to the grassroots.
As of end last year, their human security and community development activities were valued at over Rwf630 million.