A two-day public exhibition for International Non-Government Organisations (INGO) ended in Kigali last week. This was the first time the organisations had come together to showcase their contribution to Rwanda’s development, as well as share experience and knowledge regarding the work of non-profit international bodies in the country. Among other issues discussed were cultural shocks, the working conditions, and how the law governing the organisation and functioning of INGOs affects their mandate: Athan Tashobya spoke to some of them who shared their working experience in the country;-
Jackie Lewis, 25 from the US
I have been in Rwanda for about three years, working with Education Development Centre (EDC), a US-funded-project involved in promoting literacy in Rwanda. I have been able to travel in all parts of the country, as well as meet different people with different backgrounds. It has been a great experience.
There is always going to be a cultural shock; going to the field, and be called a ‘muzungu’ (white person). It is a shock but you get used to that, after realising that it’s not intended for anything bad.
We face challenges finding relevant solutions to the needs of the community as we continue to improve literacy and numeracy. There is still a lot to be done to improve the reading culture.
We are training teachers to use stories in classroom, and engage children in reading practices, because you cannot fully improve literally without reading. The good relationship with INGO office and the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration has made it easy for EDC to achieve its targets.
Christine Merz, 63, from France
I have been in Rwanda for two years working with Voluntary Service Overseas-Rwanda in Musanze District. The experience has been good as the locals are grasping the need to work with international organisations.
District disability offices have been so cooperative, working with them is a good experience. Musanze is becoming more aware of engaging disabled people in national programmes.
The government has responded positively to the needs of disabled people.
There are more openings for disabled people to access education, income generating activities and many others. And this has made our advocacy somewhat easy.
Josephine Uwamariya, Action Aid International country director
We are proud that we are active partners in the development of Rwanda, moving together with the people from below poverty lines.
There are still challenges in the field in terms of meeting individual goals. In the context of poverty, the need is still much and the resources are still a constraint. However, we teach the public to engage in activities that would lead them to sustainable economic breakthrough.