Taking Umuganda to a higher level

There are many things happening in this country that help to restore confidence in the human race once again, after the plunge it took during and immediately after the Genocide. There is so much goodwill registered as to the return and survival of human grace, that everyone in this country can look up, look into the next person’s eyes and smile with the assurance and satisfaction that we Rwandans no longer need to cringe in self pity, or fear for that matter, as to our humanness.

There are many things happening in this country that help to restore confidence in the human race once again, after the plunge it took during and immediately after the Genocide. There is so much goodwill registered as to the return and survival of human grace, that everyone in this country can look up, look into the next person’s eyes and smile with the assurance and satisfaction that we Rwandans no longer need to cringe in self pity, or fear for that matter, as to our humanness.

How else can one explain this: Ngoma residents in Huye got together and decided that they should dedicate their community work (Umuganda), to constructing houses for the vulnerable groups that include homeless Genocide survivors, orphans and widows. As many as 332 people are supposed to benefit from this act of munificence.

And with these people, talking is doing. When they took the decision, 700 of them used the following Saturday’s community workday and started making bricks for the houses. "If everyone takes up a hoe and starts working, we can have these houses up in one month," said a determined resident.

Which puts another perspective on how Umuganda can be taken to greater heights than previously. It is all well that now it is an entrenched culture for residents to clean up and free blocked pipes and drainage in their areas. But is this all it can achieve? The Ngoma residents seem to be showing Rwanda the unexplored potential that this programme has.

With determination and focus there is no project that needs just sheer manual labour that cannot be undertaken and successfully completed. The Eastern Province governor warned the people there, that he would no longer tolerate their ramshackle structures of mud and wattle, and advised them to put up better houses, or else. This is a fantastic opportunity to involve everyone by achieving for themselves what the Ngoma residents are doing for their shelterless brethren.

Under Umuganda, roads can be built; and as in this example, the government never fails to appreciate development efforts; it always lends a helping hand as it is doing for Ngoma by buying iron sheets and cement to complete the houses.

Let us rethink Umuganda and explore ways of utilising it maximally.

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