“People must determine their own positive future”, What Rwanda needs 20 years after the Genocide
Today in rural Rwandan communities, people are proud that they have regained their hope
in life. Rwandans have started to believe in themselves, yet still struggle to be self-reliant and
maintain a sense of self-determination. This is a very long journey from the pervasive passive-
mindedness of 20 years ago in the horrible genocide of Tutsi.
Since 1994, Rwandans have dedicated their efforts into building themselves and their
communities. The first step to rebuild the country was to establish healing and reconciliation,
to unite Rwandans as one people, who respect all types of human dignity. So, now, who
should help Rwanda to have people who are self-determined? Who should play this role to
help the people of Rwanda to believe in themselves? Who will help Rwanda to drive its own
This is an obvious question, of course Rwandans themselves can help other Rwandans.
A young lady called Clenie Mushimiyimana of the Nyagisenyi village located in the countryside
of the Muhabura Volcano in Rwanda, was unable to continue her studies as a result of the
genocide. She decided that her future would be better if she had basic sewing skills which
would allow her to find job opportunities. She said: “I have been able to continue my studies
and I lost hope of living in the future but getting the chance to develop sewing skills will give me
an opportunity to create my own business and prosper.” Today, Clenie attends the vocational
school built in the Nyagisenyi village which was supported by Spark MicroGrants.
So, is Spark helping Rwandan people to determine their own positive future? Is Spark helping
Rwanda to be pro-active rather than staying with sorrow of Genocide?
I would strongly respond YES as Spark MicroGrants involves local people to change their
own lives. The Spark mission is community-led development, helping people to put their
own ideas into action. Through Spark, young graduates from universities work closely with
communities and engage them in a facilitation process of 3 to 5 months to help them to choose,
plan and implement a project. This is a very unique model for community-led development.
Spark involves the community in everything – ultimately increasing the sense of ownership and
creating sustainable solutions in communities.
I, Ernest Ngabonzima, am one of these young people, who have been touched a lot by what
happened in the genocide and questioned myself on how to help my country to regain hope the
a positive future. After finishing secondary school, I was concerned of how people were passive,
not thinking about the future but staying with sorrow and thinking about their relatives, their
parents, their friends lost in the genocide and even those who were stuck thinking about their
sins. I joined Spark in 2010 as a volunteer, it was a chance for me to start helping my broken
country to regain the hope of living the positive future and drive its own development.
I work with Spark to help Rwandan communities to alleviate poverty, to build good inter-
community relationships and to help these communities to learn the basic skills to give them the
ability to determine their own positive future.
As Rwandans, the positive future is in our hands, we should not be consumed by the sorrow
of the genocide but rather think about how to rebuild our broken hearts. It is time to question
ourselves: who am I? What is my history? How am I affected by the history? How is my
present? How should my future be? Who determines my future? What is my role in rebuilding
Rwanda? These are not only questions for Rwandan, but for humankind, everyone in this world
has a role to play to help Rwandans to realize their dreams, determine their own futures, and
take action in their own development.
Ernest Ngabonzima is the Rwandan Country Director at Spark Microgrants. For more on his work please
*Originally published on sparkmicrogrants.org