KIGALI - About 100 members of the UK Conservative Party are coming back to Rwanda for the second phase of ‘Project Umubano’. Led by Andrew Mitchell MP, shadow secretary for international development, hand-picked representatives of the UK’s opposition party, among them ten MPs, doctors, lawyers, and bankers, will arrive in Kigali at the end of July. Last year 44 volunteers spent two weeks learning first hand Rwanda’s development challenges and offering targeted professional help according to their expertise. This year’s continuation project which emphasises skill transfer and capacity building will be “much bigger, but more narrowly focused than last year,” explained Mitchell from London.
“We are glad to be able to come back to this beautiful country, to make our own personal, modest contribution but also to learn everything we can about Rwanda and development,” he said. The five projects covering much of Rwanda focus on health, the private sector, justice, education and construction.
A team of GPs, medical specialists and a dentist will work in rural health clinics and teaching hospitals. According to Mitchell’s office, the Conservatives are also hoping to install solar energy in rural health clinics across Rwanda.
12 volunteers led by another MP, David Mundell, shadow secretary for Scotland, will be working with the Ministry of Justice to help in capacity building, particularly in respect to the East African Community legislation.
Mitchell himself will lead a project of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in association with the Ministry of Education. As part of the ministry’s month-long training programme for 1,500 primary school English language teachers, Conservatives will help train participants in English communication skills.
Following the success of last year’s renovation at Girubuntu primary school in Remera, Tobias Ellwood MP, shadow minister for culture, media and sport, is to direct a building and decorating team at a community centre in Kinyinya where the majority of households are child-headed. The project will be realised together with Rwandan builders.
“We are very excited about them coming back,” said Eugene Rudasingwa, director of Girubuntu. This year Conservatives are also turning their attention to the private sector, “the key driver of Rwanda’s long term development,” says an aide from Mitchell’s office.
22 volunteers will be divided between the Capital Markets Advisory Council, the Kigali School of Finance and Banking and the Private Sector Federation where they will run workshops depending on the needs of their Rwandan counterparts.
“True to its name, the project aims to build on existing relations and make new friendships”, says Jessica Lever, Mitchell’s chief of staff, who is currently in Kigali preparing the project.
“Each project has an ongoing legacy; these two weeks are part of a long term friendship,” she went on to say. “We are happy to work with them again and appreciate any support they can provide,” says Health Minister, Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo.