Rwandan youth have been challenged to take on today’s challenges head on and relentlessly work hard toward a bright future.
The call was made by the First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, while addressing 400 girls who are members of the Association of Genocide Survivor Students (AERG), in Rwamagana yesterday.
She was speaking at the closure of a forum that aimed at instilling confidence in the participants, an event dubbed ‘Now I am Stronger.’
Mrs Kagame said that the success of the orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, both in schools and general life, has continued to inspire and give hope the entire nation.
“It is amazing that girls whose parents perished in a Genocide only 20 years ago can now stand on their own. You must lead a life that’s purpose-driven as you pursue your studies and careers thereafter,” she said.
The First Lady urged the students to work hard and put to shame the perpetrators of the Genocide, who wanted to exterminate a section of Rwandans.
“Ours is a turbulent history, but you have to draw on your inner strength and put the past behind, and I’m happy that you are already doing just that. But you must be cognizant of the fact that there are challenges ahead and you will need to remain vigilant and to confront them head on.”
Mrs Kagame challenged the girls and Rwandan female students in general to embrace critical thinking.
She warned the students that no one should use the excuse of poverty to indulge in promiscuous behaviors which normally lead to unwanted pregnancies.
“You must live a meaningful life...life that is purposeful. It is a shame that some of you couldn’t continue studies due to pregnancies. You must be able to say no to what is wrong and yes to what is right,” she said.
The First Lady further urged the students never to hesitate pursuing their preferred academic careers, adding that there were no longer disciplines meant for men only.
“From the records I have, few of you take engineering courses and other sciences...you should take courses that will make you competitive on the job market,” she said.
The First Lady warned students not to take for granted the support they receive from government, reminding them that they have to continue on their own at some point.
Martine Umuhoza, on behalf of the students, said the government and other stakeholders have helped the orphans to move beyond the country’s ugly history.
“We are proactive...we have managed the aftermath of the Genocide. We have been resilient and will continue in the same path,” she said.
AERG was launched on October 20, 1996, at the National University of Rwanda and was later to spread out to all institutions of higher learning in the country, and high schools.