The First Lady Jeannette Kagame has encouraged students and young graduates who survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to go an extra mile as they pursue successful lives.
Mrs. Kagame made the call yesterday in Kigali while addressing members of the Association of Student Genocide Survivors, AERG and its alumni, GAERG during celebrations to mark 17 years since AERG was created and 10 years since GAERG was initiated.
“Those graduating should endeavour to go the extra mile and compete at the wider labour market of the East African Community. You shouldn’t also be afraid of going for Master’s or PhD programs,” the First Lady encouraged.
She tipped survivors who are still in school to seize all the available opportunities.
“Your elder brothers and sisters are willing to help you go through whatever you find difficult but do not take it for granted,” she said.
The Associations have helped genocide survivors in secondary schools and universities, most of whom are orphans, to restore hope in their lives following the Genocide.
The survivors were thankful to the First Lady for her advice, advocacy, and other forms of support that she has continually extended them.
She encouraged the students to consider taking courses that will enable them find employment such as joining technical and vocational training schools.
The First Lady, through her organisation, Imbuto Foundation has spear headed efforts to uplift orphans of the Genocide.
Through advocacy, scholarship programmes, counselling as well as sourcing capital for income generating activities, the survivors have slowly overcome their devastating past.
On the eve of the anniversary, Mrs. Kagame initiated a mentorship journey for over 300 university girls. These young women are AERG members and had requested the First Lady to support them through mentorship. About 100 Rwandan role models, including men and women, were selected and paired with the girls.
The mentors were called upon by the First Lady to commit their expertise and time, to guiding and mentoring girls in both professional and personal development. The mentorship program is expected to last one year.
Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for associations of Genocide survivors, also encouraged the young survivors to work hard.
“Since you have chosen to live, you also have to fight for it. Make money and eradicate poverty in your families,” he advised.
Members of AERG are now estimated at 40,000 from 400 secondary schools and 30 institutions of higher learning.
The 1000 members of GAERG have a mandate to help their young brothers and sisters in AERG.
The alumni has collected more than Rwf 230 million from its members and is now trying to create a business and increase revenues that would serve to help more needy survivors.
The 1994 Genocide, that killed over one million people left the country riddled with orphans and child headed households.
Through organisations such as Imbuto Foundation, coupled with a strong political will and government support, the country has restored hope among survivors.