First Lady Jeannette Kagame yesterday called upon youths to desist from mental poverty if they are to become responsible citizens in the future.
She said this while officiating the closing ceremony of a three-day retreat attended by 415 students sponsored by Imbuto Foundation which she founded to help Rwandan youths have a better future.
During the function, organised under the theme, ‘Educate, Engage, Empower’, held at Petit Stade, Mrs Kagame urged the students most of whom are orphans and children with poor family backgrounds not to succumb to problems caused by poverty but instead to be strong, work hard and to have hope.
“The worst of the poverty is always in the mind, but since you are not poor mentally, the country expects a lot from you as the future of the country. Love your country and work towards its development,” the First Lady challenged the youngsters.
During the retreat, the students received important information that will enhance their life skills necessary to make them successful.
These skills include sex education, abstaining from drugs and engaging in other risky behaviour often a result of body changes associated with adolescence. They were encouraged to lead patriotic lives.
During the event, the First Lady appealed to the children to shy away from people who are likely to lead them into risky behaviour that includes; sex and drug abuse and those who promote the Genocide ideology amongst them.
Mrs Kagame also handed over certificates and exotic cows to the 2008 Malaika Murinzi (Guardian Angels) in recognition of their exceptional parental care they give to adopted children.
This year’s Guardian Angels who are 60 in total chosen from all over the country were recognized for their effort to raise children mainly orphaned by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, and others abandoned by their parents.
“These are not the richest in the world nor do they have access to all the resources in this country, but they are selfless people who sacrifice all they have to cater for vulnerable children. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here,” said the First Lady in praise of the Guardians Angels.
She called upon them to encourage their neighbours to take on the noble cause.
“We are not just rewarding them with certificates but we are also giving you the seeds to go and sow all over the country for others to see.”
She thanked the UNICEF and other well wishers who have contributed to the Foundation and urged for more support for the project to increase the number of beneficiaries.
The Minister of Gender and Family promotion, Jeanne de Arc Mujawamariya commended the First Lady for her effort to educate vulnerable children and challenged parents to always plan their children’s future in anticipation of any eventualities.
The representatives of the students thanked the First Lady for the support, adding that from the retreat they had acquired life skills that will protect them from HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile, the UN Resident Coordinator, Aurelien Agbenonci, said that the world body is committed to supporting education and development projects in Rwanda, especially those that involve young people.
He said that Rwanda has over 3 million children classified as orphans who are in dire need of help.
He challenged the youth to emulate the current government and do even better, for they are the presidents and ministers of tomorrow.