Students who survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, yesterday, awarded President Paul Kagame , a certificate of recognition for his role in leading the Rwandan liberation war and stopping the Genocide.
The students were celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Student Genocide Survivors Association (AERG).
“The certificate is in recognition of his efforts and courage to stop the Genocide as he led the Rwanda Patriotic Army,” said the national coordinator of AERG, Egide Gatari.
The Minister of Defence, Gen. James Kabarebe, received the award on behalf of the President, at the celebrations held at Amahoro National Stadium.
Kabarebe told AERG members that President Kagame was committed to keeping assisting them in all ways possible to attain a brighter future.
“The association was formed at a time when Rwanda was still facing many problems, but you went ahead and built hope amongst yourselves,” he said.
He pointed out that most of AERG members were still young by the time the Genocide ended, underscoring that the government had established the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) to ensure that children who survived Genocide could obtain basic requirements in life.
“Despite the harsh situation, you chose to fight on and are living a better life. You are now the pioneers of unity and reconciliation; your fight against Genocide deniers is of great importance,” said Kabarebe.
He called for partnerships to solve problems facing Genocide survivors saying that better solutions can only be achieved through collective collaboration.
“We encourage you to be more innovative by creating new jobs,” Kabarebe added.
The students also awarded city businessman, Egide Gatera, who donated a 1.5 hectare parcel of land at Kagugu, Gasabo District for the construction of the ‘One Dollar Complex’ for survivor children.
Others awarded include the UK-based Survivors Fund (SURF) and the headmaster of APERER Secondary School, Edson Nsengiyumva, for his role in ensuring that students who survived the Genocide acquired adequate education.
AERG was formed on October 20, 1996 by 12 students at the National University of Rwanda.
The association has since extended to all universities and about 350 secondary schools with an overall membership of over 43,000.
AERG’s figurative mother, Speciose Kanyabugoyi, said that the celebration of the 15th anniversary was in recognition of all the soldiers who took part in stopping the Genocide.
“Considering what most AERG members went through during the Genocide, I challenge them to have the courage and strength to lead a better life; it is the only way we can protect our country from evil,” said Kanyabugoyi.
She requested for increased support in treating Genocide survivors who still nurse Genocide wounds.
Nsengiyumva, said that his school registered its members in AERG in 2002 with only 10 students but now boosts over 450.
AERG has worked to provide shelter, education, social guidance and advocacy among its members.