The month dedicated to the Family Campaign by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) is over. The promotion of family however continues unabated. This year’s family campaign was organised to raise awareness among Rwandan families towards family development through performance contracts - imihigo.
Performance contracts have become well known to us in Rwanda and are a tool that has helped us assert ourselves and achieve in many areas.
When it comes to the family performance contract, many think of development in terms of financial and material development. With this thinking, middle class families regard such campaigns as grassroots campaigns that do not include them.
Well, here is the news - as long as you are part of a family – child, mother, father or any member of a family, this campaign should be promoted.
I was privileged to listen to a successful businessman one day. He talked about his family and how he was training his children to be good stewards. One thing struck me, he said one of the most important things he was teaching his children was to set goals and evaluate their performance against these goals.
Every Boxing Day –December, 26th this family sits down and reviews the goals they set for themselves as individuals and as a family for the past year and evaluate themselves - how well did they do, why did they not achieve what they had planned, what could they have done better.
They then set fresh goals for the coming year. Every year, they aim higher and as they look back, they set themselves right. As they share their plans and dreams, they are able to support one another and sharpen each other.
I can tell you that by the time these children are their father’s age, they will be even more successful at whatever they choose to do perhaps better that their parents.
So, if you think family performance contracts are only for those who have to struggle to buy a radio for their home or target to get a cow to improve their economic status, you are wrong. At that level the campaign has already achieved it. According to the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloisea Inyumba, her visits to the families in the rural areas were very encouraging. Heads of families have taken the campaign seriously, set goals for themselves and put pen to paper and written down their goals, which they are making every effort to fulfill.
A visit at several homes has revealed a conscious effort by families to improve their hygienic conditions; economic status and food security as well as an increased focus on the education of their children. These goals may appear simple but for these people they are goals worth striving to achieve.
So think about yourself; what targets do you need to set, what performance contract will you make? Modern life gets busier by the day. Targets at work are steep and you dare not fail to achieve. The things that get put on the back burner are those that will not show immediate effects, the people we assume will understand (our spouses) and those who will not complain (our young children). Unfortunately, these are the most important; they are what you turn to when that goal has been achieved. They are what you have left when you fail, they are those who stand by when the whole world walks away, when all you strived to achieve is gone.
Relationship is spelt T-I-M-E; what about including spending more time with your family in your performance contract, what about making it your goal to spend an hour each week from now with your spouse- just the two of you focusing on each other and renewing your marriage?
You may not have to set a goal to buy a TV, you already have all the TV channels on the market; maybe you need to set a goal to switch off the TV and have some family time, talk, listen to each other, eat the meal together with no noise from outside.
You already live in a mansion so not to worry about that, but what about actually being home sometimes and knowing what happens between those walls you built and filling those rooms with the security of knowing Daddy is home and the laughter of doing something with your family before dark.
What about a contract to spend less on your evenings out with the boys and spend that money acquiring a skill with your children? You could use the beer money to pay for music or art lessons or whatever you and your children would enjoy learning together.
You may not have any trouble paying health insurance; in fact your family has international cover but why not set a goal to eat healthy and exercise with your spouse and family – that family gym membership will give you opportunity to spend time together and improve your health.
The performance contract is for you as much as it is for our countrymen in the rural areas. Our goals and targets may differ but we all need to set targets to improve our families.
The importance of family and establishing happy marriages and building strong families cannot be overstated. You can only perform at your targets at work when you have had a good sleep and when you know your children are well taken care of – and I don’t mean all the bills are paid, there is more. The people who have happy homes perform better at work. Therefore the economic development of Rwanda and all those great targets we have as a nation depend on those targets we may ignore making or consider small targets. Let us be as anxious to excel at our family targets, to succeed at home as much as we are at work.
The family is the foundation of the nation but when that foundation is falling apart with unhappy individuals, divorcing couples, neglected children; it is only a matter of time before it takes a toll on you and subsequently on the nation.
So take care of first things first and do so before it takes a crisis to show you what is really important. Make your family targets, write up your performance contract and be sure to keep it and excel at the really important things!
Aryantu Otiti is a communication specialist with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.