Every year on May 12, the world celebrates Mothers’ Day. Rwanda will for the very first time celebrate the inaugural mother’s day with a writing essay competition, which will be capped by a dinner gala. In an exclusive interview, The New Times’ Doreen Umutesi spoke to Eva Gara, the Managing Director of ‘The Point’ the chief organiser of Rwanda’s First Mama’s Day event, and below are the excerpts.
The New Times (TNT): Briefly tell us about yourself...
Eva Gara (EG): I am the 3rd born child of the late Mzee Haje Gashegu and Ruth Gashegu. I’m married with three children. Like my father, I am teacher by profession although I have not been a practising teacher for several years. I volunteer as a Sunday School teacher at my church and I also started a children book club. I love working with children!
Since 2010, together with my sister, we have embarked on Event Planning as one of our business. We however pride ourselves in creating and organising events. Mama’s Day is a good example. It will start with a Writing Competition that is being organised jointly with The New Times and Izuba Rirashe newspapers where people will be invited to write about their mother figures. It does not have to be their biological mother.
It could be an adoptive mother, an aunt, a grandmother – any woman who played a significant part in raising you. Someone who without whom, you would not be the person you are today. The second part will be a Gala Dinner.
TNT: To be specific, what inspired you into organising the event this year?
(EG): The 12th of May is celebrated in the United States and many other countries as “Mother’s Day” or “Mama’s Day”. Celebrating “Mama’s Day” in Rwanda is therefore a chance to join millions of people who put that day aside to celebrate and pay tribute to their mothers.
About 5 years ago, while living in the UK, my daughter Joanna answered a newspaper advert inviting people to write an essay about their mothers. It was done without my knowledge and only got to know when her essay was chosen among the 10 best ones. The prize was a grand dinner for two as well as many other gifts. What I loved most was reading what my daughter thought of me. I felt really appreciated. I must have had a smile plastered on my face the whole day. She’s married now and I hope that when she has a child, she will one day feel the same pride that I feel.
TNT: When will the event be held and what activities are organised in the run up to the main celebration?
(EG): This event has two parts. The first part will be a writing competition that will run for three weeks beginning tomorrow (April 16th, 2013) and all members of the public are invited to write and send in their essays or drop them off at the The New Times office in Kacyiru.
The second part is the dinner gala which will take place on the 12th of May where we would like people to treat their mothers to a special night out. At the dinner, the best essays will be announced and there will be many prizes up for grabs.
Besides encouraging as many people as possible, we will target schools to get the children writing in. Recorded interviews will also be held with children who are not able to write yet and these will be played during the dinner. We are also inviting other companies to partner with us to provide prizes for the winners of this celebration.
TNT: How will the writing competition be conducted?
(EG): The title of the essay is “Celebrating my Mother”. The length of the essay should not be more than 400 words and we would love it if a picture of the mother is also sent in. There will be 3 main categories: children (5 to 12 years old), teenagers (13 to 19 years old) and adults (20 plus years). Leading up to the event, The New Times and Izuba Rirashe will be publishing some of the submitted essays.
TNT: How are the winners going to be selected?
(EG): Essays will be submitted to The New Times and the editors there will select the top 50 after which a panel of 5 judges will select the top 10 that will be announced at the gala dinner. Selection will be based on how well the writer has managed to deliver his or her tribute. We are hoping to compile all the submitted essays
TNT: What prizes are available for the winners of the writing competition?
(EG): There will be lots of prizes given out to participants of the completion. The grand prize will be announced soon.
TNT: What is the essence of carrying out the writing competition?
(EG): We’re paying tribute to a person who is referred to in our culture as Umutima Wu Rugo (the heart of a household). This is also to encourage a writing culture and a willingness to share or publish your writing. Hopefully in due course we shall have new writers born starting with this exercise.
TNT: What is your target audience?
(EG): Well, whoever has had a mother that they want to celebrate is my target audience. This essay writing is a channel one can use to express what their mothers mean to them. I believe that we will have essays coming in from people of all walks of life – students, business owners, top government official – everyone!
TNT: What is the future and vision of this event?
(EG): My dream is to have a yearly event with a different theme each year. This will be the first of its kind here in Rwanda and not the last. I also hope to have a Father’s Day event as well.
TNT: Have you organised a similar event before? What was it about and did it meet your expectations?
(EG): Oh yes! I have always been part of many charity organisations and parent associations wherever I have lived.
The first one I remember vividly was in New York when we organised a dinner and fashion show to raise money for children in Somalia. We managed to raise thousands of dollars. In the process we managed to get to know each other as Africans in the diaspora. Since then I have been involved in similar events.